Healthy Grilled Cheese Please

National Grilled Cheese day was in April. This fan-favorite comfort food can actually provide the body with some health benefits and can be an easy treat to prepare in not a lot of time. Modern grilled cheese is believed to have originated in the 1920’s in the United States when it’s two man ingredients, bread and cheese started to be readily available.

When using bread, try to use multi-grain or whole grain. Whole grains provide the body with some powerful nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. One slice contains about 2 grams of the carbohydrate fiber or 8% percent of the daily recommendation. Fiber aids the body with digestion and is great for heart health. This type of bread also provides the body with iron which helps keep blood strong. Whole grains also naturally contain B vitamins which are important for proper development and brain health.

There are many different types of cheese and each are unique in their nutrient profile. Most cheeses however, are a good source of protein which is necessary for healthy body structures like muscles, nails, skin and hair. Cheese also often contains a significant amount of calcium which is essential for bone health. Try to stay away from processed cheese like American cheese and opt for a reduced or low-fat option. 


Photo from TasteSpotting

Try this healthier version of a grilled cheese sandwich for additional nutrient benefits!

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese


Green Goddess Herb Pesto:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ small shallot, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Handful kale, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Grilled Cheese:

  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 Tbsp. Green Goddess herb pesto
  • 2 slices mozzarella
  • Handful fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil (or butter)


1. Start by making the pesto. Pulse garlic and shallot in food processor until chopped. With the food processor running, add lemon juice, parsley, kale, and chives. (It won’t process very well yet, but don’t worry.)

2. Very slowly drizzle in olive oil until kale and herbs get sufficiently chopped and everything is the consistency of a pesto. You may need more or less of the olive oil depending on how big a handful of herbs is to you. You can also turn off the food processor and push herbs down the side of the bowl with the spatula every once in a while. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Spread one tablespoon of Green Goddess Herb Pesto onto each slice of bread. (If you’re sensitive, go light because this pesto is strong.)

4. On one slice of bread, add a slice of cheese, sliced avocado, crumbled goat cheese, spinach, a second slice of cheese, and a second slice of bread. Press together gently.

5. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the sandwich to the oil, and cook until the bread is golden brown. Press down on the sandwich lightly, and then flip it over to cook until the second side is also golden brown.

Recipe adapted from MuscleforLife


Good Foods for Good Teeth

What we eat and drink can have either harmful or beneficial effects on oral health. World Oral Health Day is March 20th this year and we can celebrate by making a commitment to eat more foods that are good for our teeth!

Add these dental friendly foods to your diet to brighten that smile!

  • Milk – The calcium and protein found in dairy products helps build strong teeth AND bones. There is calcium in almond, soy, coconut and other plant milks as well if you prefer that option!
  • Kale & Spinach – These vegetables are also high in calcium as well as B vitamins which may help your gum health.
  • Carrots and Celery – Their fibrous texture helps to clean the teeth and they are also high in water content which can flush away toxins from the mouth.

Try this healthy and yummy dental friendly smoothie for breakfast to get energy and healing going from the very start of the day!

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Kale-Apple Smoothie

1/2 cup chopped kale, ribs and stems removed                                  
1/2 stalk celery                                                                                            
1/2 banana                                                                                                   
1/2 apple, sliced                                                                                     
1/2 cup ice                                                                                                   
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Remove ribs and stems on kale before chopping.
2. Tear fibrous strings from celery stalks.
3. Add all ingredients to blender.
4. Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Power Up With Breakfast on the Go!

marchnationalnutritionmonthAre you always rushing out the door without a moment to grab a bite to eat?  Do you get to school or work in a fog because you have not eaten and somehow it is already 10:30 in the morning? Breakfast is important for everyone.

Get the morning nutrition you need with these quick breakfast ideas.

Whole fruit – banana, apple, orange
Peanut butter on whole grain toast, bagel, English muffin or waffle
Oatmeal with raisins or dried cranberries and walnuts
Breakfast smoothie with low fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana
Stuff a whole-wheat pita with sliced hard cooked egg and low fat shredded cheese
Spread a flour tortilla with peanut butter, add a whole banana and roll up
Lean ham and low fat Swiss cheese on a toasted whole grain English muffin
Low fat yogurt with crunchy cereal and blueberries
Hard boiled eggs
Leftovers – you do not have to eat breakfast food for breakfast
Make ahead freezer breakfast burritos

Freezer Breakfast Burritos
Yield: about 20 burritos (depending on the size of your tortillas)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
2 large baking potatoes, chopped into small chunks
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound chicken or turkey chorizo or breakfast sausage
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
12 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese
20 whole wheat flour tortillas
Optional add-ins: Spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, avocado, olives, sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, zucchini, tofu, salsa, corn, broccoli, carrots or jalapenos.
Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the meat, beans, pepper, and onion, and cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces, until just cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the potato and cook over medium-low heat until the flavors are combined. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs together with the milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat the remaining teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring to scramble, until just cooked through. Remove from heat immediately. Do not overcook. Top each tortilla with the chorizo mixture, eggs, and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up into a burrito and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all the tortillas. Freeze the burritos until fully frozen. Remove to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, wrap the burrito in a paper towel and place on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 2 minutes, or until warmed through.

Warm, Healthy, Easy, Mexican Minestrone

Looking for a crowd pleaser this winter?  Celebrate National Soup Month with this recipe that is so easy and yummy that you are sure to please everyone.  Plus, vegans can indulge in this deliciousness as well.

This is a recipe that we tweaked a little to make it a healthier choice.  This recipe calls for low sodium or no salt added foods as canned foods can quickly add a lot of sodium to the diet.  We also chose sweet potatoes as they are richer in vitamins and minerals than a white starchy potato.

Mexican Minestrone


·         15 ounce can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

·         14 1/2 ounce can no salt added Mexican-style stewed tomatoes

·         14 ounce low sodium vegetable broth

·         15 1/4 ounce can reduced sodium whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained

·         15 ounce can reduced sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

·         cups diced sweet potatoes

·         cups frozen cut green beans

·         cup salsa

·         Low fat sour cream (optional)


1.    In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker combine drained black beans, undrained tomatoes, broth, corn, garbanzo beans, potatoes, frozen green beans, and salsa.

2.    Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 9 to 11 hours or on high-heat setting for 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours. Serve with sour cream (optional). Makes 12 servings.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens “Mexican Minestrone”

Disguise your Fries

Sweet potatoes are a power packed functional food that can be used to replace the standard potato in recipes for a bright and sweet kick. 

They are high in Vitamins B6, C, A and D which all help to support a healthy body. They are also anti-inflammatory and contain minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium. These nutrient dense tubers help our immune systems, bones and teeth, eyes, muscles, blood, heart, and even help to give us natural energy and stress reducing effects!

Try this easy and fun Sweet Potato Fritter recipe with eggs on top for breakfast or as a snack with a Siracha Mayo dipping sauce! Yum!

Sweet Potato Fritters

  • 1 medium sweet potato (grated)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oilfritters
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Whisk egg in medium bowl and then add grated sweet potato, olive oil and salt & pepper.  Mix to coat the sweet potato. Add coconut oil to a skillet and heat. Ball up 1 large tablespoon of sweet potato mixture and place in skillet using a wooden spoon or spatula to flatten ball to a patty shape. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy. 


The Perfect Picnic

Be a Picnic ProAugust is a great month to head to the park with a few friends and a basket full of fresh goodies. Here are some easy tips and tricks to crafting the best personal outdoor lunch lounge.

  • The venue. Bring a comfortable yet thin blanket to the park or beach incase there are no picnic tables. The thinness allows you to still feel and appreciate the natural earth beneath you but the comfort brings relaxation and a more chill atmosphere to your meal. Our Healthy Living Coordinator says bringing a tapestry with you can add a fun design to the atmosphere and is often a good size for groups because you want to make sure it’s large enough so everyone can fit and feel included! Pick a spot under a tree or umbrella if it’s a really sunny day and bring along a few items from a first aid kit for safety. A trash bag is a good idea to bring to stay environmentally friendly. basket
  • The snacks. Picnics are all about fresh finger foods and delicious snacks. Pack your treats in a basket or tote bag just before leaving so that temperature sensitive foods don’t spoil (2 hours is the magic time before food starts to go bad!). If you pack foods that aren’t going to spoil you can maintain your relaxed attitude by not having to worry about food safety. Remember to bring drinks to stay hydrated and refreshed. Don’t forget your essentials like napkins, plates and silverware. Here are some fun, healthy and safe picnic friendly foods: hard artisan cheeses and crackers, bread rolls, whole fruits and vegetables, dried fruit and dried meat like jerky, jams and jellies, peanut butter and recipes…yum.cucumbersandwiches
      • Tomato, Peach and Red Onion Salad (Serves 4)
        • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
        • 1 ripe peach, diced
        • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • juice from half a lemon
        • salt and pepper
        • Combine everything in a large jar or plastic container. Seal the container and shake to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Best made the day of.
      • Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade (Serves 8)
        • 8 cups cubed seeded watermelon
        • 1 cup fresh strawberries, halved
        • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
        • 5 tablespoons honey
        • 2 cups water
        • Combine ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
      • Cucumber Sandwiches (Serves 2)
        • 9 tablespoons cream cheese (can substitute goat cheese)
        • 5 tablespoons sour cream
        • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
        • 3 tablespoons dried dill weed
        • Lettuce Leaves, romaine or iceberg recommended
        • 1 Cucumber, thinly sliced about 6 inches long
        • 2 thinned whole wheat bread slices
        • Mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and garlic. Spread over slices of bread. Lay lettuce leaf on top of spread.  Lay 3 to 4 cucumber slices onto lettuce. Sprinkle with dried dill. 
  • The entertainment. Plan a few fun outdoor friendly games for the day. Have some activities prepared that can be played in a group either lounging on the blanket or more active games to move around. Games like Heads up!, Apples to Apples or Uno can be fun for the whole family on the blanket or bring a book to relax and read. A volleyball or frisbee is an easy activity to toss around with a group by playing keep it up or just take a walk and enjoy the scenery. marbles.png

The Power of Blue…Blueberries that is!

Blueberries are a great addition to everyone’s diet. They are super nutritious and prevent or minimize health issues. Take a look at the benefits below to see how these tiny but mighty berries can work wonders in your life.


Cluster of wild berries Nutrition Assistant, Michelle Ernst Voegele’s family picked in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Nutritional Benefits: Vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants

Health Benefits: Cuts the risk of Diabetes, lowers blood pressure, and prevents heart disease

Blueberries can be bought either fresh or frozen and can even be found in the wild, especially in the northern states. 

This powerhouse fruit can be included in many scrumptiously delicious recipes. Some of Michelle’s favorite ways to indulge in blueberries is in a dreamy yogurt parfait or freezing them to use in a perfect summer smoothie. Here is one recipe that is sure to please the crowd during these hot summer months:

Banana and Blueberry “Ice Cream”

Thanks for the tips Michelle!