Wednesday, October 28, 2020

FNCE 2020: Translating the How in Eating Healthy

My takeaways from the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo 2020 include:

1) Own the Teaching Kitchen

Even if it means putting a blender in a conference room, find ways to translate the how in how to eat healthy. Start with healthy foods you prepare for yourself. Focus on skills. You don't need to be a chef. Tailor to a population you don't represent by encouraging swap-outs. It's up to dietitians to take it on!  

2) Boost Seafood

Americans aren't eating the recommended 2 servings a week. Seafood high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are even encouraged in infants between 6 & 12 months. Look at your own family menu-add more seafood and different varieties-experiment with seafood recipes. Know where to find seafood in the local grocery stores.

3) Nudge Healthy Choices in Food Service and Retail

Use "choice architecture"  by placing the healthiest choices first and in convenient or busy areas. On the deli lines, replace chip sides with raw vegetables. Buy smaller cans of soda; use smaller dressing ladles. Offer buy 6, get 7th free coupons on fresh fruit. Give students a cup of raw vegetables while they wait in line. RDNs in food service-it's your job to implement!

4) Eat More Whole Grains

Commit to eating more than half the total grains as whole. Even toddlers don't eat enough whole grains. Americans eat way too many processed grains. Dietitians expand repertoires of whole grains and experiment with unprocessed whole grains never tried before.

5) Saturated Fat reduction is most important in clients with insulin resistance.

Suggest replacing saturated fats with poly and monounsaturated fats. Make grain choices whole.

6) Bits and Pieces from Motivational Speakers and More

When working in global health-follow the partners' lead. Move global health out of charity to partnerships. 

Americans eat way too much added sugar. The recommendation for children is to avoid added sugars before age 2.

Oval plates could reduce waiste in university settings. 

Have a weird hobby. Choose one you know little about so that the learning curve is the steepest.

Older Americans are at risk for too little protein, Vitamins B6 & B12.

While I understand why FNCE 2020 was deemed virtual, I'm convinced I learn more and experience more cultural diversity by attending in-person sessions. The virtual poster sessions may be the exception-I enjoyed the audio presentation.  It was good to learn a little about the current AND President. I really miss the member-product booths and Mary Abbott Hess foundation sales.

The picture is from our local WIC office, where RDNS are constructing a teaching kitchen in their 100 year old building. Teaching kitchens are not only necessary, but bring an enjoyable dimension to the everday role of the RDN. The WIC team is excited for this opportunity.



Friday, October 23, 2020

Cookbook Review: Clean Treats for Everyone

Laura Fuentes ( tests and publishes cookbooks and recipes made without processed foods. This book was written in response to requests from her community of followers who asked for dessert recipes they could enjoy without feeling guilty. The recipes are mostly desserts, not to be confused as components of a healthy plate.

These frozen fruit cubes are an exception. Laura made fruit pop sickles-I enjoyed mine in the cube form.The recipes are made with ingredients that are easy to find in local grocery stores. The cookbook has pictures and clear instructions with allergen symbols.

I like that the recipes have minimum amounts of added sugar, as in these lemon macaroons.

Many of her baked creations are made with nut (seed) flours.

This carrot cake is the star of the book, made with almond flour, walnuts and plenty of carrots. Because this required a whole bag of walnuts and almonds (I grind my own seed), the dessert was pricey, yet worth it.

While there are many varieties of whole grain flours, she only used oat flour.

In the recipe for no bake peanut butter cookies, Laura uses raw oat flour. I roasted my flour first (5 minutes ate 325F) to remove any soil and air contaminates as recommended by many reputable sources.

My chunky chocolate bars crumbled, so I mixed the pieces with my homemade muesli. This elevated my breakfast muesli to an after dinner dessert.

Thank you Quarto Group for the complimentary review copy.  The above post and pictures are my own.  I received no other compensation for this review, other than the pleasure of an enjoyable read and eating experience! 
Clean Treats for Everyone


Healthy and wholesome recipes for desserts and snacks made with all-natural ingredients and no refined sugars. Clean Treats for Everyone, features dessert and snack recipes made with simple and easy-to-find ingredients for eaters of all ages.

If eating clean foods is a priority, then you know how difficult it can be to find snacks, treats, bars, and baked goods with suitable ingredients at the store. With the recipes in this cookbook, you don’t have to give up desserts or compromise your snacking.
All you need are a few real food ingredients you’re likely to already have in your pantry like fruit, nuts, seeds, oats, alternative flours (almond flour and coconut flour) and natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, and coconut palm sugar) to create delicious, treats such as: 
Double Chocolate Banana Bread | Pumpkin Spice Coffeecake | Chocolate Mug Cake | Raspberry Crumble Bars | Apple Nachos | Coconut Dip | No-Bake Magic Bars | Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
All of the recipes inside are naturally gluten-free, and you’ll also find customizable dietary options to fit the needs of your family, from dairy-free and nut-free substitutions to tips for swapping out ingredients and storage. The cookies, bars, balls, baked goods, smoothies and frozen treats will satisfy the craving for a healthy dessert, make a happy find inside a lunchbox, or as a midnight guilt-free treat!

About the Author

Laura Fuentes is the founder of, where she helps thousands of parents make fresh foods for their families with weekly meal plans.  Laura is the author of four other cookbooks: The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet, The Best Homemade Kids’  Snacks on the Planet, The Best Grain-Free  Family Meals on the Planet, and The Taco  Tuesday Cookbook. Laura’s passion for helping others get comfortable in the kitchen expands beyond print into video. She has competed on Food Network (and won!), appeared on TODAY and Good Morning America, and regularly shares cooking videos on her YouTube channel, In her personal blog,, Laura inspires moms to live a healthy lifestyle while juggling their family and work by offering fresh recipes and practical advice. Above all, her most important job is caring for her family. To find out more about Laura, visit The best place to find her is on Instagram, @LauraSFuentes and @MOMables.


Clean Treats for Everyone

Laura Fuentes

October 6, 2020 | US $24.99 / CAN $32.99| Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-59233-964-8

Fair Winds Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group |






Friday, October 16, 2020

Dehydrated Asian Pears-a Sweet Fall Snack


This is the year we were happy to drive to the farmer to find seasonal produce. Asian Pears grow in West Virginia, though a late frost dampened local harvest. On a pretty October day, we drove some 140 miles to an orchard in the eastern part of our state to score a peck of the just picked fruit.

Asian Pears keep for several weeks if stored in a cool place. They are a firm fruit, full of moisture and fiber.  

Dehydrating these pears intensifies the flavor, producing a sweet and chewy snack. Because the skin of the fruit is strong, the pears are easy to slice. My oven has a dehydrating function that sets the temperature down to 150 F. An electric dehydrator circulates the air, producing the same result. I dehydrate the pears for 4 or 5 hours, so they are still moist but oh so sweet! I store in air tight containers, leaving only one at a time at room temperature. It is such a treat to open the container and grab a handful of the finished pears.

Here's how I prepare them:

Wash and core the fruit.

Slice thin slices, 1/8-1/4 inch thick.

Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg.  

Place trays in oven. Baked at 150 F for 4-5 hours. Rotate trays. Turn fruit with spatula midway.

Cool slightly and store in air right containers.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Picnic Preparedness

Though the origin of the word means "of little importance" a "picnic" to us is so much more. Our picnics are excursions, out of town retreats to parks with flowers, birds, views and a table to dine outdoors in beautiful surroundings.

Our picnic basket stands ready through three seasons. Inside are two portable utensil sets, salt and pepper, crackers and hand sanitizer. Nearby are enamelware plates and foil packs of salmon and tuna. For two seasons, I canned jello jars of baked beans and applesauce, favorite sides for al fresco dining.

Seasonal soups are perfect additions to pring and fall picnics. We keep it hot in a thermos preheated with boiling water, emptied just prior to adding the heated soup. I choose vegetable based soups that stay at a safe temerpature for our 60-90 minute trip.

We packed some seasonal produce and salads in insulated containers with ice packs. Greek salad, corn relish, potato salad and pickles were packed. We cut the fresh tomatoes at table side and packed olive oil non-refrigerated.
Besides the foil packed seafood, we often cooked hard cooked eggs for protein or added some thin sliced deli turkey and Swiss cheese.

Protein Foods

Cheese, turkey, hard cooked eggs, roasted chicken, tuna or salmon foil packed, baked beans, bean salad.

Seasonal Sides

Asparagus soup, corn soup, vegetable soup, Greek salad, pickles, cherry tomatoes, potato salad, applesauce, melon.

Whole Grains

Whole grain crackers, cornbread, corn relish.


Low sodium V-8 juice, water, coffee

Baked Beans

(7-4 ounce jelly jars)

Cook beans. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. 
8 ounce dried navy beans
3 cups water
Combine beans with 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, onion, sugar, salt, dry mustard, molasses, vinegar, paprika and chili powder.
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoon black strap molasses
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid from beans
Portion hot beans and sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band. Place jars in pressure canner containing simmering water to cover jars by 1 inch. 
Place lid on canner and turn to locked position. Adjust heat to medium-high. Vent steam for 10 minutes. Put weighted gauge on vent; bring pressure to 10 pounds (psi). Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat; cool canner to zero pressure. After 5 minutes, remove lid. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove from canner. Cool and check lids.
The best picnics are those we prepare together!



Monday, October 5, 2020

Flourishing with Fresh Figs

They're a symbol of prosperity, brought from Spain to the United States by missionaries. Fresh figs have a soft flesh and tiny seeds. They are very low in calories and good sources of fiber and antioxidants. 

I was so pleased to get a pint of fresh figs grown by my farmer's market friends. Their two fig trees grow right outside the front door . The tiny fruit grows upside down on stalks with large leaves. Mike and his Mom make jelly from the various bushes and small trees that grow in their yard. They share the goodness of the fresh figs by selling some in pint baskets while they are plentiful.  

While figs are delicious as is, I was happy to find a 6 page feature of recipes in the Taste of the South Magazine September issue.

Here's my version of Figgy BBQ Pork:

Figgy BBQ Pork

(Serves 12)

Pork Rub
Place paprika, chili powder, cumin, black pepper and dry mustard in a large zipper bag. Shake to mix. Place pork tenderloin in the bag and cover thoroughly with the spice mix. 
16 ounce raw pork tenderloin
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard. 
Place seasoned pork in slow cooker.
Mix warm broth with jam. Stir to dissolve. Pour over pork into slow cooker.
2 tablespoon fruit jam (Mike was out of fig jam, so I used his Goumi jam)
1 cup chicken broth
Surround pork with onions and figs.
1 small onion, sliced thinly
8 fresh figs, halved
Cook on high for 3-4 hours until internal temperature reaches 145 F.
Remove pork and shred. (I shred mine in a mixer with paddle blade attachment.) Return pork to cooker. Add BBQ sauce to broth in cooker. Stir and heat.

BBQ Sauce
2/3 cup ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup)
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoon molasses

I made mini versions of a spice cake similar to the one in the Taste of the South Magazine. It does not contain fresh figs though the cake includes the fruit jam. Mine has a ricotta, mascarpone icing.
In the winter, I savor the dried version of the fruit, ground in cornbread stuffing for turkey and mixed into whole grain breads.
Figs are good with cheese, ice cream, honey, oranges, walnuts and balsamic vinegar.