Packing Lunch for a Three Year Old

For the past three years I haven’t had to think too much about Paige’s lunch, since her sitter always made something for her and I really didn’t have to do anything.  Now she’s three and officially a preschooler (three days a week).  All of a sudden this dietitian has total control over what her daughter is eating, and while you’d think that would make me happy, it’s actually more stressful than I thought it would be. Just about every day her lunch box comes back only half eaten.  Paige has always been a light eater, but at times I feel like she eats nothing (but the girl has never had problems in the bathroom, if you know what I mean, so it’s like she eats and then gets rid of it all!).  Recently I had Paige’s teacher conferences and I asked about her eating habits.  They didn’t seem concerned, but they did say“Paige is more interested in watching the other kids, at times, than she is in eating her lunch. She typically goes very slow”.  True.  She eats slow like her dad (whereas I tend to eat too fast, I’ll admit it).  Overall I’m not overly concerned, I mean she’s growing and staying on the growth chart, but still, I’m over-analyzing all the nutrients she’s potentially missing out on;

  • Calcium and Vitamin D:The girl hates milk now. Literally, she will only drink it if I add chocolate to it and even then sometimes she won’t drink it.  Yogurt? She’ll eat it at school but not at home (what the heck?!).  I’ve recently been giving her the Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt pouches, which so far she enjoys (score!). We also give her a vitamin D gummy every day (especially in the winter months when she doesn’t get much, if any sun)
  • Iron and Protein: Paige is a vegetarian, aside from her occasional chicken nugget and fish stick (and this is not because anyone in our family is vegetarian).  She also will dabble in bolognese sauce or lean beef tacos, but that’s rare.  What about beans? Beans used to be a favorite of hers, but anymore it’s like pulling teeth to get her to eat beans.  And dark greens?  Loves them (phew!) but she’d have to eat a bunch in order to get the iron she needs. Enter, the Flintstone vitamin. I’m not sure if it’s just a coincidence but since she’s been taking this vitamin, and getting extra immunity boosting iron, she hasn’t gotten sick.  Seriously. Not once.  It’s been almost a year.
  • Fiber:Ok, this one may be an issue for some preschoolers but it’s the one thing that Paige has covered. The one food she will eat without fail? Brussel Sprouts. Who is this child?!  She also eats whole grain everything.  I don’t think she has ever eaten anything enriched (not that I’m against it, we just don’t keep enriched/white breads, bagels, etc. in our house). She’s always ever eaten the whole grain version of just about every grain food.  I’m proud to say that!

So I’ve done a little giving in when it comes to packing her lunch, since over all she’s still pretty picky at this point.  I want her to eat, I want her to like what she eats, I want her to grow and not be any shorter than she’s already going to be (Nick is 5’7″, I’m barely 5’3″).  So, here are some things I’ve been packing on a regular basis and she…well…usually eats;

Protein: Dietz and Watson Deli Meat (she likes it just as is, no bread)

Grain: She loves these pumpkin flavored Crunchmaster crackers

Fruit: The Pressed KIND bars are great for school because they are delicious and nut free!

Dairy: Paige has given up on milk, so I’ve resorted to chocolate milk. She has a love/hate relationship with it.

Dairy: You can’t go wrong with whole milk yogurt! I also do the pouches, as listed above.

Something I rarely buy, if ever, for Paige is the squeeze pouch veggie things. I think they are nasty and I don’t understand them.  Why are we asking our child to squeeze pureed veggies into their mouths?  Didn’t they give up on purees when they started eating solids as infants?  I’m confused.  Sure, they are a “convenience” but so are things like Cheerios and fruits, which make more sense to me, personally.  What are your thoughts?

Other lunch staples;

  • PB&J (without the “skins” as she likes to call the crusts)
  • Any veggie you can imagine, especially broccoli, brussel sprouts, pumpkin or squash
  • Any fruit you can imagine, but especially oranges and kiwi
  • Pizza (leftover pizza, she loves it)
  • Hot dogs and ketchup (she eats the veggie dogs. Have you ever tried them?!)
  • Spaghetti and meatballs or bolognese sauce (leftover, she loves it)


Low FODMAP Lunches and Dinners

While following a low FODMAP diet can be very difficult at times, it might be nice to know that there is still a plethora of great combinations that are low FODMAPs and rather tasty!  Today I’ll share some of my favorites that I make from home, along with some of my favorite away-from-home orders.

At Home Lunch/Dinner Ideas

  • Baked Potato with Broccoli (1/2 cup or less) and a small amount of sharp cheddar cheese. Add a dollop of plain Greek Yogurt for some more creaminess, and some Texas Pete’s hot sauce for some heat!
  • Brown rice or quinoa with sauteed veggies (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, mung beans, kale), add a little soy sauce (if you have Celiac Disease look for one that is Gluten Free)
  • Grilled salmon or chicken (with a simple oil and vinegar marinade, or just oil, salt and pepper) served over a salad of spinach with hard-boiled eggs, green or black olives, carrots, cucumber, and a bit more oil and vinegar
    • Alternatively, serve with sauteed veggies (see example #2) and brown rice or quinoa
  • Grilled hamburger (made from raw beef, salt and pepper), on Gluten Free bun with sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato.  Serve with oven baked potato fries.
  • Pizza on the skillet; in a food processor at 1 cup old fashioned oats, 4 egg whites and 1 egg, plus a dash of salt and some Italian seasoning for flavor.  Blend for about 20 seconds, pour onto a heated and sprayed skillet. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side. Add toppings of your choice (Rao’s Sensitive Formula Marinara Sauce is lovely!) and broil on high for about 4-5 minutes.  Makes 2 servings.
  • Eggs; scrambled with some spinach and sharp cheddar or a little Swiss cheese.  Serve with Gluten Free toast.
  • Simple Carrot Ginger Soup
  • Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken(use a BBQ sauce from my list)
  • Maple Dijon Cod
  • Gluten Free pasta with Rao’s Sensitive Formula Marinara Sauce and freshly grated parmesan (add sauteed zucchini or roasted broccoli!)
  • Deli sandwich with Gluten Free bread, nitrate-free turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, mayo and maybe some fresh red pepper, cucumber and black olives (my favorite, toasted with some Swiss cheese)

Eating Out Lunch/Dinner Ideas

  • Salad with protein added (hold the onions), ask for oil and vinegar for dressing
  • If Gluten Free pasta available, ask for it with olive oil and fresh parmesan
  • Burger on a Gluten Free Bun with Swiss cheese or sharp cheddar, order of fries or a side salad without onion (oil and vinegar on side for dressing).
  • Grilled protein (most places offer salmon or chicken), ask for it with only salt and pepper seasoning if possible.  Sides might include brown rice, steamed broccoli or green beans, spinach, mashed potatoes or roasted redskins


  • Baked potato with sour cream, bacon, broccoli
  • Side fries
  • Salad; Side Salad or Power Mediterranean (omit onion, ask for oil and vinegar)


  • Salad is pretty much the only option (NOTE: The following salads contain FODMAPs but should be handled by most individuals as long as oil and vinegar is used to replace dressing)
    • Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken
    • Chinese Citrus Cashew Salad with Chicken
    • Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken


  • Chipotle is difficult, as there is onion just about everywhere you look!  The following options are lower in FODMAPs, but not FODMAP free
    • Bowl – With brown rice, light black beans, corn, tomato, lettuce (note: without being rude, pick out the onion!)
    • Corn Tacos – with chicken, lettuce light sour cream
    • Salad – Lettuce, light beans, corn, tomato (pick out onion!), add chicken if you want. The chicken is marinated in seasoning with onion, but if you’re not really sensitive it would be ok.

What are your favorite go-to low FODMAP dinners, lunches or foods to eat out?


Low FODMAP Snack and Breakfast Ideas

Need some low FODMAP snack and breakfast ideas?  Here you go!

Snack Attack

  • Clementines or an orange with gluten free crackers (plain or sea salt)
  • Gluten free crackers (plain or sea salt) with low or no-lactose cheese; string cheese, Swiss, hard cheddar
  • Gluten free toast with peanut butter
  • Snack mix with Kashi Indigo Morning or Simply Maize cereal, 2 Tbsp peanuts and 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (and some M&Ms!)
  • Plain Kefir topped with frozen blueberries or strawberries (blend for a smoothie!), add some chia after blending
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Flourless Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Sweet Carrot Butter with gluten free crackers
  • Protein Bars with Oats, Chia and Dark Chocolate
  • Carrots with 1/2 T Ranch dressing
  • Oatmeal Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cups
  • Plain Greek yogurt with a scoop of Smucker’s Natural Jelly and peanut butter
  • Lactaid cottage cheese with clementines, berries or tomatoes
  • Butternut Squash Muffins(great for breakfast too)
  • Chia Pudding
    • Try this Chocolate Chia Pudding(make into a Raspberry Parfait!)
  • Fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple, melon and bananas, topped with chia seeds or nothing
  • Nut mix; walnuts, macadamia nuts and peanuts
    • Put this on top of some Lacaid-brand ice cream (or any favorite lactose-free ice cream)
  • Snack bars (see my list of ideas)


  • Oatmeal or quinoa (made with water, Lactaid milk or almond milk), with berry toppings and banana.  Sweeten with a dash of maple syrup.
    • Try this recipe for “Banana Split Oats”
  • Eggs and gluten free toast (add 1/4th of an avocado if you want!)
  • Cereal with Lactaid milk, almond milk or Greek yogurt (plain), and bananas or raspberries (see my list of low FODMAP cereals), plus these;
    • Cheerios
    • Rice Krispies
    • Rice Chex
  • Pancakes (use any basic recipe, but instead o wheat flour use Oat Flour or Rice Flour)
    • Carrot Cake Pancakes
    • Buckeye Protein Pancakes
    • Egg White and Oat Pancakes
  • Greek Yogurt Parfait — Plain Greek yogurt with chia seeds, any of the low FODMAP cereals on my list above, berries and bananas
  • Gluten Free waffles with a smear of peanut butter and some maple syrup
  • Scrambled eggs maid with Lactaid milk or almond milk, top with some sharp cheddar and a dash of Pete’s Hot Sauce (or even 1/4th of an avocado and 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt)
    • Try this Goat Cheese Spinach and Tomato Quiche
  • Breakfast Quinoa Bake
  • Quick breads (any! Just substitute the wheat flour for rice or oat flour)
    • Try Whole Grain Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Do you have any favorite low FODMAP snack or breakfast ideas?  Please share in the comments!  Next week I’ll post some of my favorite low FODMAP lunch/dinners.


Pumpkin Breakfast Parfaits, and a Probiotic Update

The other day I posted about Pumpkin Health Halos and talked about how many foods these days are labeled as “pumpkin flavored”, but sadly aren’t as healthy as they sound.  You’re all smart enough to know that pumpkin Pop-Tarts and pumpkin donuts aren’t healthy, obviously, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a delicious pumpkin treat that actually was healthy?? My pumpkin ice cream was, well, not healthy, but a better choice than most of the pumpkin ice creams on the market these days (because at least with homemade ice cream you know each and every ingredient that is going into the mix).  Today I want to share a simple breakfast idea that is not only a treat, but it’s healthy. Yes, I said healthy.

Pumpkin Breakfast Parfait


  • ½ cup chilled pumpkin puree
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup plain 0% fat Greek yogurt**
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder**
  • Stevia liquid drops, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Old Fashioned Oats


  1. Mix the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice into the pumpkin puree in a small bowl. In a separate bowl mix the yogurt, whey protein, Stevia and chia.
  2. Get out a parfait glass (or a regular glass) and layer; pumpkin, yogurt mixture, pumpkin, yogurt mixture, then top with oats.


** If you are very sensitive to lactose, you may be better off using 100% lactose-free kefir instead of Greek yogurt (although plain Greek yogurt typically only has about 5-6 grams of lactose per cup, which is a tolerable amount for most individuals with lactose intolerance). Also, choose a lactose-free whey protein (most are lactose free!). As far as other FODMAPS are concerned, pumpkin hasn’t been tested by the Monash University yet, but from what I read it’s safe at smaller amounts of <1/2 cup. If you are in the elimination phase of the diet, I would avoid pumpkin, just in case. You could replace with mashed banana and maybe a tiny bit of pumpkin (banana, pumpkin and yogurt parfait..why not?!)

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 parfait Calories: 300 Fat: 3.6 g Saturated fat: .9 g Carbohydrates: 27 g Sugar: 11 g Sodium: 136 mg Fiber: 8.2 g Protein: 33.4 g Cholesterol: 25 mg

Nutrition Highlights:  Only 300 calories (which is great for breakfast. I might even recommend slightly more, closer to 400 calories), excellent source of fiber, vitamin A and protein (remember my post about the importance of getting a lot of protein for breakfast??), and zero added sugars (the sugar in this recipe comes from the pumpkin, and possibly 1-2 grams from the protein powder, depending on which type you buy. My protein powder is sweetened with Stevia).

The chia seeds swell in the yogurt, and also swell in your stomach, therefore helping to keep you full for quite some time.  When I made this for breakfast I was full for 3 hours, and I mean full.  The fiber from the pumpkin puree helped too.

I haven’t talked about probiotics on this blog for quite some time. I do not take a probiotic supplement, which some people find strange since I have so many GI issues, but I do eat yogurt on a regular basis.  I get my probiotics (or “friendly gut bacteria”) from my 2-3 daily servings of yogurt.  Check out this little blurb from an article in Today’s Dietitian Magazine;

If you’ve ever had questions about probiotics, what they are, how they work, and where you can find the best sources (including some reputable probiotic supplements), read this article from Today’s Dietitian’s last issue.  When I was working in the supermarket setting I used to get a lot of questions about probiotics, and I know the topic is only becoming more popular as the years go by. This article should shed some light on some frequently asked questions.

And I couldn’t end this post without showing you this pumpkin that was carved by one of the talented OSU chefs. I know Halloween was last month, but I forgot to post this pumpkin on my blog and I couldn’t get through Autumn without posting it.  It’s amazing, right?  And this isn’t even one of his better ones (so, can you imagine what his others look like?!  They take your breath away).

Enjoy your day everyone!  And … happy pumpkin eating.


Breakfast Quinoa Bake, with Peanut Butter and Syrup

As a dietitian and a foodie, my friends and clients often share with me their favorite recipes that they believe I might enjoy. They text me, e-mail me, call me, or personally hand me recipes that they’ve either tried and loved, or that they think I should try and let them know if they are actually as good as they sound. Last year I met someone very special and worked with him to adapt a healthier diet for his extreme endurance sporting events.  The first time we met he learned that I love to cook and blog, then afterwards he sent me a few of his favorite recipes, including today’s recipe.  It took me a while to try it, but boy I’m glad I did!I modified the recipe a tad, because that’s just what I do.  I think I ended up with close to perfection. This was extremely tasty and filling, to say the least.

Breakfast Quinoa Bake, with Peanut Butter and Syrup


  • 1½ cups cooked quinoa, cooled (~3/4 cup dry quinoa)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup vanilla soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • Peanut butter for topping; ~ ½ Tbsp. per serving
  • Optional: Extra syrup for the top (I used sugar-free) **


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with lightly greased parchment (or just grease your pan and forget the parchment).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, soy milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Add maple syrup and whisk.
  3. Add egg mixture to cooked and cooled quinoa. Stir with a large spoon to combine. Pour into baking dish and spread around to ensure that it’s even.
  4. Bake ~20 minutes until set and golden.
  5. Gently remove the bake from the pan as soon as possible so that it doesn’t steam (or stick to the pan). Cool completely on a rack or plate and cut into 9 squares. Serve with peanut butter and top with syrup, if you’d like.


** If you are following a low FODMAPs diet you will be happy to learn that this recipe is free of FODMAPs. However, if you use sugar-free syrup for the topping like I did, be careful not to use one with sugar alcohols. If you do, don’t use much (maybe 2 Tbsp, max). This is a gluten free recipe.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 square Calories: 131I stacked the squares for photography purposes.  It just looks better this way, right?

You could eat one square, two squares, or three.

But, the nutrition facts below are for one delicious square.Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/9th of bake

Includes peanut butter on top

Doesn’t include additional syrup


Nutrition Highlights:  Under 150 calories and a good source of protein (although you could have two squares and be just under 300 calories, which in my opinion is a good thing, remember my blog post?  Add some Greek yogurt on top or whey protein and bam, you’ve got 30 grams of protein!).I saved the rest of the “Squares” for breakfasts throughout the week. I actually made the following a couple times for breakfast; 1 quinoa bake square, topped with Greek yogurt, frozen berries, PB2 and sugar free maple syrup.  Oh yum.


Italian-Indian Fusion Breakfast Burrito

I love the idea of breakfast for dinner.  Nick and I eat eggs for dinner probably twice a week.  That being said, the concept of a breakfast burrito is sort of like eating dinner for breakfast.  I mean, yes, there are eggs, which are typically found in breakfast foods, but burritos are typically eaten at lunch or dinner. Typically.

Imagine eating a Chipotle burrito for breakfast.  Ok, that might be pushing it a bit.  As I’ve mentioned in the recent past, breakfast is important (you knew this) but it may also be important to make sure you aren’t just “Breaking your fast” but instead that you are eating a substantial amount of calories while doing so.  Research is showing that not only is breakfast important but that it might be best to make it the largest meal of the day( that is, instead of lunch or dinner, which is when most people have as their largest meals).  There was a recent study that showed women with metabolic syndrome lost more weight over a three month period when they consumed 50% of their calories at breakfast, vs. those who consumed 50% at lunch (all calorie consumption was the same for both groups; 1400/day).  Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about the importance of including at least 30 grams of protein at breakfast? Many of you were floored with this high amount of protein because it’s not possible to reach that amount without eating a large amount of calories. But the reason why it seems like a lot is because most Americans are used to eating very small breakfasts, with very little protein, and then consuming the majority of their calories in the late afternoon and evening hours (I won’t lie, I’m still working on reversing this habit myself).

It’s time for all of us to reverse that trend.  Let’s start with a breakfast burrito.

Italian-Indian Fusion Breakfast Burrito

Source: Substitute Yourself Skinny

Serves 2


1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fennel
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped broccoli **
1/8 tsp. salt
2 eggs and 1 egg white, beaten
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh chives
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 medium whole wheat tortillas (9-inches) **

** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, the broccoli and the whole wheat tortillas might be an issue.  For most people, the amount of broccoli in this dish shouldn’t cause problems (typically 1/2-cup or less is tolerated well).  As for the tortilla, you can use a gluten-free variety instead.


  1.  In a medium saute pan over medium heat, heat the oil.  Add the fennel and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli and salt.  Saute until tender, about 5 minutes more.
  2.  Transfer the veggies to a bowl, and set aside.  Scramble the eggs until just cooked, adding the turmeric about halfway into the cooking process (and incorporating well).  Equally divide all the ingredients, including the eggs, veggies, basil, chives and cheese, among two tortillas.
  3.  Fold and enjoy!

Just a side note, the original recipe called for onions, but I used fennel.  I don’t eat onions so fennel seemed like a good (but slightly odd) substitute.  In my opinion, it worked.  If you haven’t tried fennel, you must.  It might sound like strange ingredient for a breakfast burrito (because, it is) but sometimes it pays to take food risks!

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1 burrito


Nutrition Highlights:  Good source of an iron, excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

The turmeric did a nice job of turning the eggs orange.  Pretty, no?

QUESTION:  Have you tried fennel? Have you ever made an Italian-Indian fusion dish??

I hope you had a nice weekend and have an even nicer week.  Happy Monday, and thanks for reading!


30 grams of protein for breakfast. Do it.

I went to a nutrition conference earlier this year and one of the speakers’ topics was protein.  At first I thought, “what on Earth can this guy talk about with regards to protein, for a full hour?!”.  The hour flew by as I learned more about protein than I ever thought I wanted to know (and yes, I wanted to know it, it was unbelievably interesting. Yes, I’m such a nutrition nerd).  One of the things I will never forget was what he said about the importance of protein at breakfast.

I know I know, you already know protein is important at every meal, but did you know that research actually shows that 30 grams of protein at a meal can stimulate muscle growth?We tend to get very little protein at breakfast, then slightly more at lunch, then too much at dinner (the excess just turns to fat or it turned to glucose unless you actually use it).  What we should do is try to evenly distribute our protein intake throughout each meal, so rather than getting ~10 grams of protein at breakfast, and 20 at lunch, and 50 at dinner (yes, this is typical of many American diets) we should aim for 30/30/30. This article from Science Daily explains some of the science behind this concept.   Here is a bit from the article;

“Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, eat a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. When was the last time you had just 4 ounces of anything during dinner at a restaurant?” Paddon-Jones said. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle-building during the day, and at night we’re taking in more than we can use. Most of the excess is oxidized and could end up as glucose or fat.”

A more efficient eating strategy for making muscle and controlling total caloric intake would be to shift some of extra protein consumed at dinner to lunch and breakfast.

If we can aim for ~30 grams per meal, our muscle synthesis, in theory, will be more efficient.The speaker at the conference said that “one study showed those who consumed 30 grams of protein, or more, at breakfast showed muscle growth compared to that you would get from a workout” (here is one of the studies to which the speaker referred)

Nick will kill me if he sees this on my blog.
Oh well.
I wanted to show you that we order breakfast even when on vacation (as in this photo) and I’m proud to say that Nick, a  one-time non-breakfast-eater, now eats breakfast daily.

If you read Today’s Dietitian Magazine (which, I’m guessing most of you don’t, but I highly suggest it, even for non-RDs!) you already know how important breakfast is because they include articles about breakfast in almost every issue (ok, maybe not almost all, but many).  There was an entire article about the benefits of breakfast in the latest issue (here is the article).  I’ve added a small piece from the article here;

Studies also have found that a breakfast rich in protein may improve satiety and diet quality in teens and adults who are overweight or obese.5,10 A recent study used MRI to assess brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior, and found that these signals were reduced following a high-protein breakfast—evidence that breakfast may be a valuable strategy to control appetite and regulate food intake.5

Ok, enough talk. How in the heck can you get 30 grams of protein for breakfast, anyway?! It takes some serious determination, I’ll tell you that right now.  In all honesty, you’ll have to start putting some effort into your morning prep, but I think it’s worth it.  Here are some ideas….

5 egg whites, in a bowl, with cinnamon, vanilla, and 1/4th cup oats. Allow to sit for ~15 minutes, then pour onto a hot non-stick skillet.  Cool like an omelet, flipping after about 2 minutes.  Make sure whites are cooked through, then top with blueberries and ~1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (and sugar-free syrup).
30 grams of protein

1-cup frozen blueberries, 1-cup skim milk,  some stevia and 1-scoop chocolate whey protein, blended well.  Top with 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.
~30 g protein, total

Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars
12 grams of protein in 2 bars (~300 calories)
Add more protein by topping them with more yogurt, or adding whey protein to this recipe.
Ok, this is a stretch, but these bars are yummy.

Banana Split Oats
~250 calories and 5 grams protein
Modify the recipe by adding a scoop of whey or soy protein powder, and making with regular milk for extra protein (instead of almond milk)
~30 grams protein, total

Spicy Granola Bites
~ 230 calories and 5 grams of protein in 2 bites
Enjoy 2 bites with 1-cup of plain Greek yogurt (look for one with 25 grams of protein)
~ 30 grams protein, total

Popped Amaranth and Toasted Wheat Berry Breakfast Sundae
~370 calories and 20 grams of protein
Add more cottage cheese, sprinkle some protein powder on top, and/or chase with a glass of milk
~30 grams protein, total

Chocolate Teff Pudding
~162 calories and 5 grams protein
Add a couple scoops of protein powder or PB2
This is another one that is sort of pushing it….ie: not easy to reach 30 grams protein.  A scoop or protein powder and some PB2 should get it up there…

Summer Frittata
2 slices, ~250 calories and 20 grams pf protein
Chase down with a glass of skim milk
~30 grams protein, total

Dark Chocolate Quinoa Bars
~230 calories and 6 grams protein
Enjoy with 1-cup plain Greek yogurt (with about 25 grams of protein)
~30 grams protein, total

Chocolate Chia Pudding and Raspberry Parfait
~17 grams of protein
Serve with ~1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
~30 grams protein, total

And of course don’t forget my all-time favorite breakfast (seen in the first photo on this post); Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, 1-scoop whey protein, stevia and unsweetened cocoa, plus some high-protein cereal like Kashi Go Lean.  Yummmm.  I swear, it’s tasty.  Want more ideas? Check out my Breakfast Board on Pinterest!  I’m especially a huge fan of all the breakfast burrito recipes (egg beaters are another great way to get protein in the morning, without the extra calories and cholesterol from eggs).  You could also go one egg and then 3/4-1 cup of the egg beaters.

QUESTION:  What’s your idea for a 30 gram protein breakfast??

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  I’m happy to say this will be be my first full weekend off of work in a very long time.  I plan to live it up (ie: catch up on all the chores I have been neglecting).  haha, yes, I do love my life.

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Editor’s Note:  After publishing this blog post a reader provided this article about protein recommendations for preventing muscle loss as we age.  While the research might have focused on the elderly population, there is nothing wrong with starting this higher protein habit early (and remember, a balanced diet is still key, so be sure you aren’t increasing your protein at the expense of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables).


Chocolate Chia Pudding and Raspberry Breakfast Parfait

Today’s post is a teaser for Friday’s “FAQ Friday” post.  I’ll be discussing why it’s important to get more protein in your breakfast, and of course why it’s important to simply eat breakfast, period (you did see the latest news about men, breakfast, and heart disease, right?!).  I saw today’s recipe on Marianne’s blog a while ago and knew I had to make it (starting the day with chocolate is never an issue for me, is it for you?).  I made a few minor modifications, as I always do, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.It took me a while to get into chia seeds, and in fact I’m still slightly hesitant to include them in my diet on a regular basis because I swear it’s no coincidence that when I started eating tiny seeds (chia and amaranth) I got my first cavity.  Ok, maybe it is a coincidence, but I’m not certain (afterall, since starting to enjoy these tiny seeds I now have to carry floss with me wherever I go.  No, I never did that before).

Chocolate Chia Pudding and Raspberry Parfait


3 Tbsp. chia seeds

1 Tbsp. hulled hemp seeds

1 Tbsp. chopped dark chocolate (any brand)

1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. chocolate whey powder (or vanilla)

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. maple syrup

1/2 cup fresh raspberries


  1. Combine chia seeds, hemp seeds, chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, whey, almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup in a bowl.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes for chia to absorb all of the liquid.
  2.  In a parfait glass or other dish, alternate layers of chia pudding and raspberries (or simply put the raspberries on top of the pudding, without layering).

**NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPS diet you will be happy to know that this is low FODMAPs!

I think this kept me full for about four hours.  That’s a lot.  Read below to see if you can figure out one of the reasons why I was full for so long……Estimated nutrition facts for 1-serving

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 400 calories, good source of protein and vitamin A, excellent source of FIBER (wowza! I think this explains my fullness), iron, vitamin C and calcium.

You can always cut down on the calories by omitting the maple syrup, but in all honestly a 400-calorie breakfast is pretty reasonable.  In fact, I typically suggest making breakfast one of, if not the, largest meals of the day.

Truth be told, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  It used to be the opposite, I despised breakfast! Do you remember when they used to serve breakfast for lunch in school? Yuck, I hated it.  Pancakes, french toast sticks, I was just not a fan.  I’m still not a huge fan of french toast sticks, and I really rarely eat pancakes, but overall the idea of having breakfast for lunch is much more appealing to me now (and even for dinner…who doesn’t like a big ol’ scrambled egg tortilla with salsa?!).


Popped Amaranth and Toasted Wheat Berry Breakfast Sundae

I wear a walkie talkie (of sorts) at work, making it easier to communicate with team members and customers who have questions about products.  During the past year our store was given a major bulk section makeover, which meant carrying many new types of legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, etc.  One grain (or technically “pseudo-grain”) that has become very popular over the last year is Amaranth. I have been reading about amaranth in the blog world for a while, and kept meaning to try it, but it wasn’t until last month that I finally bought some and tried it in a recipe.  Amaranth is actually the grain of the month on the Whole Grain Council’s website, so please, read more about it here.  I think the main highlights are that it’s gluten free, provides a high-quality source of protein, and is the only “grain” that provides vitamin C (who knew?!).  Today I want to share one of my knew favorite breakfasts (yes, I’ve finally strayed from cereal and Greek yogurt ….. slightly…. and have moved on to popped Amaranth and cottage cheese….on occasion).

Popped Amaranth and Toasted Wheat Berry Breakfast Sundae


1/4 cup raw wheat berries **

1/4 cup raw amaranth

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup plain 0% fat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese **

1 1/2 cups fresh and/or frozen berries (Without sugar added)


  1.  Heat a small, heavy saute pan over high heat.  Add the wheat berries and cook shaking the pan frequently until they start to crackle and swell up (about 2 minutes).  Remove to a bowl.  To the same pan over high heat add half the amaranth and hold a lid over top of the pan with one hand to prevent the amaranth from flying all over the place (because they will!), and stir lightly with a spoon with the other hand so they all cook evenly. Allow to pop for about 5-20 seconds (yes, the times vary depending on what type of pan you have and how hot you have it.  This might take some practice because the amaranth tends to burn easily.  Mine burned a bit but was still very tasty!  Play around with this a couple time and don’t be ashamed if it takes a few practice rounds to get to the perfect “popped” amaranth!).  Do the same with the remaining amaranth.  Toss to combine the grains.  Put aside.
  2.  Whip the heavy cream with half of the sugar, until soft peaks forms (or until the mixture starts to thicken to your liking).  In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt, cottage cheese, and remaining sugar together until fluffy and smooth.  Gently fold the cream/sugar mixture into the yogurt/cottage cheese/sugar, then dollop the mixture into two separate serving bowls.  Top the mixture with the grains and berries

** NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPs diet you may want to avoid the wheat berries.   You could always use oats or just extra amaranth instead of the wheat berries. They didn’t seem to cause me issues because I’m not very sensitive to wheat (it only causes me problems when I eat large amounts, as in more than one typical serving).  Also, be sure to get a lactose-free brand of cottage cheese.

Estimated Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Highlights:  Excellent source of fiber, protein, and vitamin C.  Good source of calcium, vitamin A and iron.

If the fat content is too high, or the sugar, make this without the sugar and heavy cream.  I did that once too (and just whipped the cottage cheese and Greek yogurt with some Stevia drops) and enjoyed it almost just as much!

Toasted Wheat Berries
This is what raw amaranth looks like.  Tiny!See the raw vs. the popped?  They don’t get very big when they pop, but you can tell they are popped because they look like small popcorn.This is when I turn off the heat.  Almost all of the amaranth has been popped.

As you can see, some of the amaranth aren’t popped, but they were definitely toasted and the flavor added a great flavor to the breakfast sundae.

I think the combination of cottage cheese and yogurt, whipped (even without the heavy cream and  sugar) is my new favorite morning-time treat.  It’s amazing what a little air can do to the texture of dairy!

This being National Celiac Awareness Month and all, my goal is to keep experimenting with new gluten free grains.  What should I try next?!

QUESTION:Have you tried amaranth?  What about wheat berries?  What’s your favorite unique grain (or “pseudo-grain”)??

I hope all the mothers out there had a great Mother’s Day yesterday.  I can’t wait to experience motherhood myself one of these days! I had a nice time with my mom and a close family friend of ours on Saturday night. We drank wine and ate cheese, crackers, and fruit, while just laughing for hours.  Good times.

Thanks for reading.

The Candid Rd


Nick Makes a (Sustainable) Seabass Dinner, with Three Pepper Relish

 I told Nick that all I wanted for my birthday this year (the big 3-0) was for him to make me dinner.  I know he gets nervous making me dinner because a) I have a lot of dietary restrictions due to my low FODMAPs diet and b) I like to eat pretty healthily, even on my birthday.  So, right away he started researching and planning ahead (planning ahead is rare for him, so I was impressed).

I got some heat from a not-so-happy reader recently when I posted a recipe using a fish that was on the “avoid list” on Monterey Bay Aquarium‘s Seafood Watch Program.  To be fair, the recipe I posted was one that could be modified to fit just about any fish (especially the lighter white fish, which is what I mentioned in the blog post).  I wasn’t promoting the fish, necessarily, but the recipe, and the fact that you don’t need to eat salmon or tuna in order to reap the benefits of fish. That being said, I realize I am a health care professional and need to be careful about what I post, so when Nick picked up “Seabass” for my birthday dinner, I freaked! Chilean Seabass?  That’s a no-no.  That’s a fish that is certainly not sustainable, and I was shocked to hear that the seafood department where Nick purchased the fish (which is that uses very sustainable seafood policies) was even carrying it!

If your supermarket is selling Chilean Sea Bass and abides by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards, it’s a much better product.  If you don’t know, ask!

But the good news is that it was not Chilean Sea Bass, but instead a Mero Hawaiian Seabass (which is actually a type of grouper, sold under the name “Mero Sea Bass”.  Yeah, grouper and sea bass are in the same family…who knew?!).  The Mero Hawaiian Seabass is actually “caught using environmentally friendly methods to reduce habitat damage and bycatch”.  Nice work Nick. High five!  So, I went ahead and gave Nick the “ok” for this one.

Nick had it planned out pretty well.  I worked until about 6:30 pm, and he started making dinner right when I walked in the door (because he knows how I like to take my time and unwind after work). I could smell the deliciousness of the sauteed vegetables, roasted potatoes, and the fresh fish wafting through our house…..

It was dark by the time we ate, so the color wasn’t great, but the end product was amazing.  Once again I thought; “Nick needs to cook more often”!

As it turns out Nick had gone to the grocery store looking for halibut, because the recipe he had was for halibut.  Of course, halibut can’t be found fresh here in Ohio until later in March (not late January/early February….come on Nick, didn’t you know?!  haha, jk. I didn’t know that either).  That being said, you could make this recipe with halibut, if you can find it fresh.

Grilled Mero Hawaiian Seabass (or Halibut) with Three Pepper Relish


1 yellow bell pepper, quartered
1 red bell pepper, quartered

1 orange bell pepper, quartered

Cooking spray
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced **


1/2 tablespoon olive oil

8 (6-ounce) skinless sea bass fillets (or halibut)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

**Note: If you are following a  low FODMAPs diet , omit the garlic and replace the olive oil with a  garlic-infused version.  And because Nick loves me so, he made sure to omit the garlic and use garlic-infused olive oil to make up for the garlic flavor, even though he loves garlic (I mean..who doesn‘t?!)!


  1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
  2. To prepare relish, coat bell pepper pieces with cooking spray. Place pepper pieces on a grill rack; grill 3 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Remove from grill; cool slightly. Coarsely chop bell pepper pieces. Combine chopped bell peppers, parsley, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic); set aside.
  3. To prepare fish, brush oil evenly over fish. Sprinkle fish evenly with thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place fish on grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with relish.

Nutrition Facts for 1/8th of recipe, made with Mero Hawaiian Seabass
** If made with halibut the calories will be only slightly higher **