Category Archives: Favorite Products

My e-book is out! Purchase your copy of 5-Minute Meals today.


I am thrilled to announce the release of my first e-book, 5-Minute Meals.  This has been a project of mine for a couple of years now.

I love food and enjoy cooking, but I don’t want to spend all of my free time in the kitchen. I’d rather be outdoors, playing tennis or relaxing with friends. I realized that many of my clients felt the same way. So I decided to write this book, to share my favorite quick-and-easy recipes with the world.   Continue reading

Healthy Breakfast Cereal Review

Occasionally, authoring a blog has its perks.  Once, I got paid to participate in a survey about food and nutrition blogs.  Another time, I got a free cookbook to give away.  And, last week, I got some free healthy cereals to try.  And not just the little sample-sized boxes.  The full-sized versions.  Score!

In this post, I’ll write a review of each of these cereals.  Continue reading

5 MORE Healthy Meals in 5 Minutes or Less

My original 5 Healthy Meals in 5 Minutes or Less were so popular, I decided to make a sequel.  These 5 MORE Healthy Meals in 5 Minutes or Less feature all-new recipes that are just as fast, healthy and delicious.  They include:

The George Foreman Grill is great for fast and healthy meals!

  • Fruit-Infused Oatmeal
  • Shrimp and Zucchini Saute
  • Black Bean and Corn Salsa
  • Grilled Fish Tacos
  • Grilled Bananas
These recipes use the microwave, a George Foreman grill, or the stove for quick, healthy cooking.  Enjoy!
Check out Nicole’s entire collection of healthy recipes here.

DIET-FREE: The Eight Habits That Will Change Your Life

image I recently discovered DIET-FREE, a healthy lifestyle program designed by Registered Dietitian Zonya Foco, and I am a fan.  If you want to get healthy while learning to embrace life and listen to your body, then this program might be perfect for you.

How does it work?  DIET-FREE consists of eight simple habits, that you work on adopting into your lifestyle one at a time.  The eight habits happen to spell out the acronym DIET-FREE:

Drink Water… and think before you drink anything else.

Include breakfast… and stop eating two to three hours before bed.

Eat often… and include a fruit or vegetable each time.

Tame your sweet tooth… so you will naturally eat as little sugar as possible.

Find the fat… and know the good, the bad and the ugly.image

Replace processed, chemically enhanced foods for wholesome, close-to-the-farm foods.

Eat only until you are no longer hungry.

Every day exercise… and make it your middle name.

And, Zonya reminds us: every once in awhile, when the urge or circumstance dictates, it’s okay to live outside the guidelines of these habits!

These are great principles; ones that I strive to live by. You rock, Zonya!  To learn more about DIET-FREE check out Zonya’s website.  And, for a convenient printable version of the eight habits, check out this DIET-FREE handout.

10 Healthy Foods You Can Cook in the Microwave

image Cooking food in the microwave is easy, healthy, environmentally-friendly and delicious! Here’s why microwave cooking is:

  • Healthy: Unlike some other methods of cooking (such as boiling), microwave cooking allows foods like fruits and vegetables to retain most of their healthy vitamins and minerals. Additionally, microwave cooking very compatible with a low fat diet because food does not require the addition of excess fat to cook food.
  • Environmentally-friendly: Microwave cooking is energy efficient! It conserves energy by only heating up the food within it, and not the rest of the house.

Below are my favorite 10 healthy foods you can cook in the microwave.  Bon appétit! image

  1. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast food.  Quick cooking oats,  combined with low fat milk and chopped fruit, cooked for 4 minutes in the microwave make for a delicious morning! Try my Fall Morning Oatmeal recipe.
  2. Spinach: This nutrient-packed superfood cooks in the microwave in less than 1 minute! Try this 20 second recipe or my new favorite: top spinach with a little peanut vinaigrette (like the kind at Trader Joe’s shown here) and sprinkle with peanuts. Microwave for 30 seconds. Yum!
  3. Fruit “Cobbler:” This is one of my favorite heart-healthy desserts!   Combine fresh or frozen bite-sized fruit pieces in a microwave-safe bowl (banana slices, apple chunks, blueberries, strawberry slices, peach slices, etc.).  Microwave on high until fruit is hot and soft. Top with granola and fat free whipped cream. You’ll love it!
  4. imageCorn on the Cob: One of my summertime favorites. Place peeled, rinsed corn cobs on a microwave-safe plate, and nuke until cooked! (About 4-5 minutes per cob.)  In Mexico, they squeeze fresh lime juice on corn rather than butter. Give it a try!
  5. Green Beans: Rinse green beans and microwave on a plate until bright green, about 1 minute per handful of beans. Fresh green beans are one of my favorite veggies- so much tastier than canned!
  6. Fish: Finally, an easy way to cook and enjoy fresh fish! My favorite method is to cook fish for 1 minute on my George Forman grill, and then finish cooking in the microwave. Check out my easy recipe for Grilled Salmon!
  7. Popcorn: Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Choose a microwavable popcorn brand that is low in fat and sodium, and cook according to directions.
  8. imageSoybeans: Also known as edamame, soybeans are a delicious, protein-packed, fiber-filled snack! Buy frozen edamame in the grocery store, and cook in a microwave safe bowl with just a little bit of water until warm. Discard the water. Top with just a pinch of salt.  If they are in the pods, pinch the beans out of the pods before you eat them!
  9. Whole Wheat Couscous: Couscous is a Mediterranean grain that is basically teeny-tiny pasta. Honestly, I usually cook it on the stove, but it is just as simple to cook it in the microwave.  Heat 1 and 1/4 cup of water in the microwave until boiling. Add one cup of cous-cous, stir and cover. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and then fluff with a fork and serve.  For a ton of couscous recipes, check out this Food Network link.
  10. Eggs: There are many imagedifferent ways of preparing eggs using a microwave, but my favorite is poached eggs! Poaching eggs is a very healthy way to prepare eggs, because it requires no added fat. Here is a great video on how to poach eggs in the microwave.

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Will the Real Whole Grain Please Stand Up?


Which of these is a whole grain? The answer might be neither.

The importance of eating whole grains is becoming increasingly apparent as studies continue to uncover the health benefits associated with whole grains. Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, eye degeneration, and cancer, to name a few. But which grains are really whole? Some food manufacturers are out to trick you. This article will help you to identify which foods are good sources of whole grains, and which are only posing as whole grains.

First, a quick anatomy lesson on whole grains. A whole grain contains 3 parts: the  bran, the germ and the endosperm. A refined grain (such as white bread and white rice) has the bran and the germ removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Unfortunately, the bran and the germ contain the majority of the fiber, vitamins and minerals. So when you eat a refined grain, you’re missing out on these nutrients!


Now, lets do some detective work. How can you identify the real whole grains?

Safe sources: Brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, 100% whole wheat flour, wild rice, bulgur, wheatberries

image These whole grain foods likely are not out to trick you. It doesn’t matter if they are quick-cooking, instant, or regular; they are still a whole grain! This is surprising to many people who think they must have slow-cooking brown rice or oatmeal for it to be healthy. Not so! Instant rice is “parboiled” meaning it’s partially cooked already. Quick-cooking oatmeal is just smaller than regular oatmeal, so it cooks faster.

Tricky sources: Bread, cereal, crackers, granola bars, tortillas, barley, pasta


May NOT be a good source of whole grains!

These products may be out to trick you. Here are some tips that can help you find good sources of whole grains:

  • Bread: Should have 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain on the label.  Bread that looks brown and is called “wheat” or “multigrain” may NOT be a whole grain. Bread manufacturers often color white bread brown with molasses  and call it “wheat.”
  • Cereal: The first ingredient listed should imagehave the word “whole” in it, like “whole wheat,” “whole oats,” or “whole grain corn.” Ideally, it contains no refined or “enriched” grains in the label, and it also is low in sugar. Post Shredded Wheat, Quaker Oatmeal Squares and Barabara’s Shredded Oats are some of my favorite whole grain cereals.
  • Pasta: Most pasta is made from “durum wheat” which is not a whole imagegrain.  However, whole grain pastas are being offered more frequently in grocery stores. Barilla Whole Grain Pasta and Rozoni Healthy Harvest are blends of whole wheat and regular durum wheat. Other less common brands offer 100% whole wheat pasta: keep your eyes peeled!
  • Crackers, granola bars, tortillas and other products: For these products, use the first ingredient method: make sure the first ingredient listed is a “whole grain,” and ideally the product contains no “enriched” grains in the label is low in sugar. Sometimes, these imageproducts will have a whole grain stamp that tells you how many grams of whole grains it contains. Compare this number to the total number of carbohydrates. The closer the 2 numbers are, the better; that means the product is mostly made of whole grains. Some of my favorite whole grain-containing products include Triscuts and Nature Valley granola bars.

I hope this post will help you to identify some good sources of whole grains. What are some of your favorite whole grain foods?

For a list of products containing whole grains, check out this site.

The Persimmon Post

Until a couple years ago, I had never tried a persimmon. Today, they are one of my favorite fall fruits! Here is everything you need to know about persimmons:

image Fuyu persimmons are squattier than Hachiya persimmons and are flat on the bottom. Fuyus taste great raw, they have a sweet, cinnamon flavor
and a crunchy texture. This is my favorite type of persimmon.

Hachiya persimmons are heart-shaped. imageHachiya persimmons are ripe when they are very soft, and are great for baking! Try adding Hachiya pulp to cookies, muffins and quick breads.

Fun Persimmon Facts:

  • If you cut a persimmon length-wise, there is a star shape in the middle!
  • Persimmons are Japan’s national fruit.
  • Persimmons are a great source of fiber and Vitamin A.

Try my Fall Morning Oatmeal recipe, which is made with Fuyu persimmons!

Nicole’s Top Picks from Trader Joe’s

If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s nearby, then I’m sure your are familiar with it’s awesomeness. Trader Joe’s is basically a health food grocery store with reasonable (and sometimes even dirt cheap) prices.  Here are some of my favorite Trader Joe’s products:

IMG_09601. Just the Clusters Maple Pecan Granola- This stuff is amazing. Little spoonfuls of heaven.  Like most granolas, it’s higher in fat and sugar than regular cereal, so I like to mix it with another whole grain cereal, like Shredded Wheat or Quaker Oatmeal Squares.  I like to top this blend off with chopped apples and cold skim milk.  I also really enjoy the Vanilla Almond flavor, topped with fresh strawberries or blueberries.

IMG_0945 2. Nuts about nuts: Trader Joes has an amazing selection of nuts and nut butters, at a very reasonable prices!  Some of their nut butters include peanut, almond, cashew and sunflower.  Stick with natural nut butters with no added hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.  Nuts are great sources of healthy fat. Walnuts, in particular, are high in omega-3s! IMG_0951

3. Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette: This salad dressing is awesome! It blends Asian  peanut flavors with hints of Hispanic Jalapeno and cilantro.  Plus, it’s low in fat (just 4 grams per serving!)  I love this dressing tossed with an Asian style green salad (lettuce, cabbage, carrots, snow peas) topped with dry roasted peanuts. I tried it for the first time at one of the little sample stands they have at Trader Joe’s.  So far, it’s the only time I’ve immediately purchased what they were selling!

image 4. $2 buck Chuck! More formally known as Charles Shaw, this wine has a price that can’t be beat: $1.99! This is actually an award winning winning wine, according to Wikipedia!  I do a lot of cooking with wine, and this wine is perfect. It adds great flavor to my favorite meals, like my 15 minute Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta.  And, I don’t mind drinking a glass with my meal either! My current favorite is the Shiraz.  For more great wines from Trader Joe’s, check out this Top Ten List from Jason’s Wine Blog.

What are your favorite items from Trader Joe’s?