November: Diabetes Friendly Dessert

The holiday season is underway! As we dive neck deep in delicious sweet treats some of us step back and worry about how we are going to maintain our health over the next few months. What If I told you managing your blood sugar involves balancing your carbohydrates, not restricting them? What if I told you taking care of yourself doesn’t have to mean duck taping your cabinets and sucking on sugar-free Werther’s?

How does crustless pumpkin pie sound? Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A! Add a little sugar, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract and voila – mmm mmm good. That’s not even the best part. By skimping on the crust, each slice is just 2 carbohydrate exchanges (~30 grams). Your welcome ☺.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs (or egg white substitution)
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in the pumpkin, milk, vanilla and cinnamon if desired; mix until well blended.
  2. Pour into a greased 9-in. pie plate. Place pie plate in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan; add 1/2 in. of hot water to pan. Bake at 350°F for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean
  3. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Nutritional Info

Servings Per Recipe: 8

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 4.5g
  • Total Carbs: 28g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 25g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Vitamin A: 130%
  • Calcium 15%

Written by: Nicole Miller, RD  –   Nicole works as a consulting dietitian at Eat Freely Nutrition. Nicole believes strongly in mind-body awareness and that the long-term health is achieved through an individualized approach to nutrition that is both sustainable and enjoyable. Nicole aspires to empower people with confidence and education, allowing them to live freely and thereby Eat Freely. In other words, let’s cheers to dessert.

Bran Muffins

I know this sounds so cliché coming from a Dietitian, but I love bran muffins. I have always loved them. My love for bran muffins originates in my childhood because my mom frequently made them while I was growing up. To this day, she still uses the same recipe and I love them just as much. I’ve had them from bakeries and they just aren’t as good. Bakery muffins are usually too big, too sweet and just a cupcake without frosting. Thus, I am in the habit of making my own muffins at home.

I use Kellogg’s The Original All-Bran recipe to make bran muffins. The recipe is simple and the muffins are delicious. The great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be modified. Now that Autumn is here and apples are in season, I couldn’t resist adding apple chunks to these muffins.

Kellogg’s The Original All-Bran Muffins

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Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Original cereal
  • 1 1⁄4 cups fat-free milk
  • 1egg
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS  (Preheat oven to 400° F)

1. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl, combine KELLOGG’S ALL-BRAN cereal and milk. Let stand about 2 minutes or until cereal softens. Add egg and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion evenly into twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin pan cups coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° F about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

You will need two bowls, one medium and the other large. Start by combining all the dry ingredients from step one in the medium bowl. I added 1⁄2 a teaspoon of cinnamon to the recipe because, well, cinnamon makes almost everything better and it especially goes well with apples. You could also use apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice if you happen to have one of those in the cupboard.

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In the larger bowl, combine the bran flakes and milk. As step two says, let it sit for a few minutes until the cereal is soft.

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This is a good time to dice the apple.

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Stir the cereal and milk around to make sure all of the flakes are getting soaked by the milk. It may help to mash some of the flakes with the back of a large spoon. Then add the egg and oil, beat well.

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Next, add the dry ingredients and stir only until combined.

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Fold in the apple chunks. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non- stick spray. It is important to put an equal amount of batter into each muffin cup in order to have muffins that are evenly baked. Now, I am going to let you in on the big secret about how to do this – ice cream scooper!

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Once they are all scooped, slide them into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The muffins should be dry and slightly golden on top when they are done.

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This is a versatile muffin recipe and luckily, they freeze well making them a great option for a quick breakfast or impromptu brunch. Smear some nut butter on a bran muffin, grab a piece of fruit and you are out the door. Consider making a batch now with fresh or dried cranberries and stashing in the freezer until Thanksgiving morning. These muffins also make a nice afternoon snack with a cup of tea. In the summer time, I suggest adding diced peaches instead of apples. Any combination of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, apricots or cherries would add a nice touch of sweetness. Don’t forget some heart healthy fat from chopped walnuts!

Enjoy experimenting with this recipe in your own kitchen.

Written by:  Katy Dyer, RD.  CDA Orange District Past President.

Eating for the Season

What runs faster? –Hot or Cold

Hot, Everyone can catch a cold! ☺

As our hot summer days are coming to a close we can welcome the cool windy days of autumn. The beginning of the fall season is an exciting time to eat the new seasonal produce. Eating seasonally allows you to get the best “bang for your buck” especially when shopping at your local farmers market. Since fall produce contains a variety of colors this will provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to build your immunity to the ever-approaching flu and cold season.

Looking for a local farmers market? Try these links:

September Produce:

Fruit: Apples, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Lemons, Nectarines, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Pears, persimmons, Pineapple, Plums, Raspberries, Strawberries, Lemons, Oranges

Vegetables: Artichokes, Asparagus, Avocado, Basil, Beets, Black-eyed Peas, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Chard , Chili Pepper, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Onion, Kale , Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mushroom, Mustard, Onions, Peppers, Persimmons, Potatoes, Sapote, Spinach, Summer squash, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Turnip, Winter Squash

Seasonal Recipe:  Butternut Squash Burritos

Yield: 4 burritos


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed, & roasted
  • 1/2 cup uncooked short grain brown rice (yields: 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • One 15-oz can black beans (about 1.5-2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese
  • 4 tortilla wraps (large or x-large)


1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Roast butternut squash for 45 minutes.

2. Cook brown rice 

3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add oil and onion and sautee for about 5 minutes.  Add in garlic and salt and stir frequently.

4.  Add chopped red pepper, black beans, and rice and sauté for another 10 minutes. on low.

5. Add cup and a half of butternut squash to the skillet and stir. Add feta cheese and heat another few minutes.

6. Add bean filling to tortilla, wrap and serve. 

Written by: Olivia Ostunio, CSULB Nutrition & Dietetics Student and CDA-Orange District Student Co-Historian

School Lunches Kids and Moms Will Love

Well it’s back to school and the children are leaving home with packed lunches again. Packing a school lunch that is delicious, nutritious, and fun to eat can be a challenge for any parent, especially in the morning. But you succeed if you keep these tips in mind, and with practice, preparing the best school lunches can be as easy as reciting your ABCs.

Make it balanced. Make a list of your child’s favorite foods from the 5 food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy groups. To score a good grade, supply at least one choice from each food group in their lunch. Be sure to rotate through a variety of choices from the food groups to pique your child’s interest in exploring what’s for lunch each day.

Fruits. Consider some dried fruits such as apricots, cherries, mango, and boxed raisins. Unsweetened applesauce is sweet enough, but different fruits or cinnamon are also blended now with the apples. Many stores even sell apple sauce crushers that blend apple and carrot purees that are perfect for freezing and defrost in their lunch sacks in time to be enjoyed as a chilled slush at noon. Kids also love grapes, mini bananas and those small, easy-to-peel seedless oranges. Cut fruit into small pieces to avoid choking risks. You can opt for boxes of 100% fruit juice, but skip the beverages labeled fruit “drink”, “ade” or “punch”. 

Grains. Whole wheat bread, bagels, crackers, bread sticks, pretzels, soft tortillas or flatbreads, baked muffins, crispy rice or popcorn cakes, toaster waffles, or cooked pasta, steamed rice, or leftover pizza are all good choices

Protein foods. Lean, sliced meats such as ham, turkey, roast beef or leftover meatloaf, barbecued or grilled chicken legs, hard boiled eggs, chili with beans, bean or lentil soups, or the ever popular peanut butter might be what your child wishes you’d pack for them.

Vegetables. Corn, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or roasted potatoes from dinner the night before are all great options. Creamy hummus and salsa are great ways to sneak in vegetables as dips for crispy fruits, breadsticks and pretzels. Fresh salads might be your child’s choice. It’s worth the small cost to purchase those little plastic dressing cups with fitted lids to send the low-fat dressing alongside the salad container. This allows your child to drizzle dressing over their crisp greens at lunch which prevents a soggy salad. Maybe your little ones actually enjoys consuming mini-cans of vegetable juice blends.   

Dairy. Yogurt cups or popular yogurt squeeze tubes can be placed in lunch bags frozen and will defrost by noon. Cheese sticks come in varieties such as string and cheddar. Parents can also just send coins along with their children because schools sell low-fat milk at lunchtime.

Make it fun. Taste and fun are important considerations for children. So just as important as what you pack is how you pack it. 

Skewered chunks. Who said protein has to be served between two slices of bread? You can use wooden or plastic skewers to fasten slices or chunks of meat, poultry or cheese with assorted cool, crisp fruits or vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, mushrooms or bell peppers. They’re colorful and fun to take apart as you eat.

Make a sandwich a “shape-wich”.  Cookie cutters can do double duty to transform square bread into favorite shapes. Or use them to press out favorite shapes for sliced meats and cheeses and serve your child’s sandwiches open-faced.

Mix n’ match.  Who can each just one? Send an assortment of different small sandwiches for your child to enjoy. Vary the fillings, or flavors or texture of the bread. Cut the sandwiches into halves, thirds or quarters and pack together a sampling of each. 

Get the kids involved.  Keep in mind that a lunch that appeals to you may not interest your child, and remember no lunch is nourishing if it is not eaten or traded. So if you want your child to eat their lunch, keep in mind your three Rs: Recognize, Respect and Request.

Recognize your child’s food preferences. No one wants to eat something they don’t like. For example, consider sandwiches are easy to eat which is especially nice for a child who wants to get out to recess as soon as possible.  Soups and salads are better choices for those who enjoy sitting and talking at length with their BFF.

Respect your child’s views.  Most children have to deal with peer pressure. Your child may become anxious about eating anything that could appear to be “different”, “weird” “stinky” or “geeky”, which can be almost anything depending on the pervasive school culture.  Be sure to respect this and provide foods your child feels comfortable eating in a social situation. 

Request your child’s assistance. Take them grocery shopping and set aside time to prepare lunch together the night before. This saves time and reduces stress in the morning, A child is more likely to consume what they have chosen and helped prepare.

Plus it provides an opportunity for one-on-one time for the parent and child to bond. Do you know your child’s favorite colorful vegetable or fruit? Who do they eat lunch with? What do they feel comfortable eating at with their friends at school? Find the answers to these questions and many more fun facts about your child through these casual conversations.

Keep it safe.  Packing a school lunch requires some consideration of the fact that it might be left standing at room temperature for several hours before being eaten. 

• Use a commercial freezing gel or an insulated thermos. Packing frozen individual cups of yogurt or juice cartons can help keep the perishable foods cool and prevent spoilage. Many sandwiches with fillings such as peanut butter, cheese, and meats can be packed while frozen. By lunch time these foods or drinks will be thawed and ready to be enjoyed. Just don’t freeze sandwiches containing lettuce or tomatoes because they won’t be appetizing. Pack these sandwich additions separately. 

• Be sure to wash your hands, utensils, cutting board and other work areas clean.

• Pack only thoroughly cooked perishable foods. The next day user of leftovers is acceptable, but not week old or mystery-aged leftovers.

• Always wash your child’s lunchbox and insulated tote after each day’s use. Some neoprene or other fabric sacks can be laundered in the washing machine. 

• Pack an individually wrapped hand-wipe.  Encourage your child to use it and wash their hands before eating. 

Be a good role model. What your child sees you eat is a more compelling and powerful action then what to tell your child to eat. By making smarter choices yourself, you and your child can each enjoy a healthy body, healthy mind, better mood, better focus and concentration, and better nutrition for a lifetime of learning.

 Written by:  Alicia Grabowski-Drozd, MPH, RD

Having a father with hypertension piqued Alicia’s interest in nutrition and is the reason why she became a Registered Dietitian. She is self-employed as President of Healthy U. It’s her job and her pleasure to promote health in people of all ages. Alicia is the personal chef to her two children and has lots of experience packing school lunches. Alicia also helps her students at a local community college comprehend the value of nutrition throughout the life cycle. She doesn’t miss a beat as a certified American Heart Association CPR instructor and conducts CPR and first aid classes. According to the Bee Gee’s song, her training classes are helping to increase the number of people Stayin’ Alive. Please contact her at if you have additional questions or comments.

Should Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Include Nuts in Their Diets?


nuts, pcos, polycystic ovary syndrome, nutrition, diet

Eat nuts for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Image source: Nuts for Life –

One in sixteen young women is afflicted with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  In PCOS the sex hormones get out of balance.  Many women experience a decrease in ovulation and grow facial hair.  Most will have small cysts grow on their ovaries.   PCOS affects a woman’s hormones, vascular health, fertility, menstrual cycle, and insulin production.  Women with PCOS are at an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) as a result of insulin resistance due to the extra weight around their waist.  This condition affects 1 in 16 young women.  The cause of PCOS is not understood, however, it does seem to run in families.

Controlling blood sugar is critical for long-term health of women with PCOS.  It is helpful to follow a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.  This would include managing energy input, increasing exercise, and emphasizing carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  Increase fiber to 28 grams per day and eat two or more servings of fish a day.

In addition to the above recommendations, nuts should be included in the diet.  Nuts are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s), which are beneficial to plasma lipids.  Nuts are also a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Fiber has a positive effect on serum glucose levels by slowing the absorption of glucose in the small intestine.  Nuts also increase satiety, this being very beneficial when trying to lose weight.  Walnuts have a high level of PUFA’s.  PUFA’s have been shown to increase insulin secretion.   In 2011, Nutrition and Metabolism published a study showing that fasting insulin was greater in those individuals who were given whole nuts.  The dual effect of increased insulin secretion and slowing of glucose absorption in the small intestines resulted in a decrease of blood glucose.   These positive results were also pointed out in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition during a study in which PCOS patients consumed 31 grams a day of nuts for 6 weeks.

In conclusion, women with PCOS may benefit by consuming about ¼ cup of nuts, including walnuts every day to help decrease blood glucose.  Controlling blood glucose in women at risk or who have T2DM is the first line of defense to long term medical problems.


Source:  Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times, December 23, 2009

6 servings

1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons walnut oil


1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1 pound Brussels sprouts

  1. Prepare the Brussels sprouts:  Trim the dried bases and pull away any loose or discolored outer leaves.  Stand the sprout upright on the cutting board and slice it as thin as possible into coins.  Aim for pieces as thin as a quarter.
  2. In a small-lidded jar, combine the vinegar and minced shallot, and set aside for 10 minutes.  Add the mustard and walnut oil and shake well to make a smooth emulsion.  Taste and season with salt as needed.
  3. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large nonstick skillet.  When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with on-half teaspoon salt and cook, tossing until the sprouts start to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.  The texture should be chewy crisp rather than simply crisp.
  4. Immediately pour over the dressing and remove from the heat.  Continue tossing to evenly coat the sprouts with the dressing (they will only be very lightly coated).  Stir in the walnuts and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Each serving: 153 calories; 3 grams protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 28 mg sodium

Written by:  Sherry Schulman, Student Intern for Professor Christi Coy, MS, RD, Saddleback College

Treat your kale right


Are your treating your kale right?

By now, we’ve all heard why we should eat kale: it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods, containing high amounts of Vitamins A, C, K, as well as fiber, magnesium, iron and more calcium per calorie than milk.  But a more important question is how we are supposed to eat it!  The first time I tried kale, I simply chopped it up and threw it in a salad with an Italian vinaigrette.  I must have spent at least a half hour trying to chew my way through the fibrous leaves, determined to enjoy this so-called superfood.

I eventually finished my salad, but I had no desire to try this leafy green again in its raw form.  From then on I would steam or sauté any kale I purchased, which made the leaves more edible.  This method of preparation served me well for a few months, but I wanted to try new ways of preparing my kale.  I tried eating it raw a few more times with no success, until a friend offered to make me his special raw kale salad.  To my surprise, I was actually able to enjoy the salad, and finish in under a half hour!

So what was his secret?  First, know your kales.  There is Red Russian, Curly Leaf, Redbor, Lacinato, and other lesser known varieties.  The best for raw salads is Lacinato, due to its softer texture, flat leaves, and sweeter flavor when compared to other kales.  Second, de-rib the kale.  The spine down the leaf’s center can lead to a lengthy amount of chewing, so you’re best off removing it if you plan on consuming the leaf raw.

Once you have your de-ribbed Lacinato leaves, place them in a bowl with some olive oil and salt and begin the massage.  Like a massage relaxes us after a hard day’s work, it also “relaxes” the kale, breaking down fibers and allowing us to spend less time chewing!  For the best results, spend at least five minutes with your kale, until it has decreased in size by at least 50% and feels wilted to the touch.  Now your kale is ready for any salad!  Read further below for a delicious raw kale salad recipe.

Raw Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Dressing from

4 Servings


  • ½ large head of Lacinato kale (4-6 cups)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 1 small head of broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or a bit more, to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 tbsp water, or as needed


  1. After preparing, place carrots, broccoli, cucumber, almonds and strawberries aside.
  2. Blend tahini, garlic cloves, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, olive, salt, pepper, and water in a food processor or blender.  Set aside.
  3. Remove stems from kale, then place the leaves in a large salad bowl and coat with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and ¼ tsp salt.  Massage kale leaves together with your hands for about 5 minutes.
  4. After massaging, slice kale into bite sized pieces.
  5. Place all salad ingredients in the salad bowl and toss.
  6. Pour over dressing and toss again.

Serve immediately or let marinate for 30 minutes.

Written by: Ian Schenck, CSULB Nutrition & Dietetics Student and CDA-Orange District Student Liason

All the more reason to love spring

We all recall the saying as children, “April showers bring May flowers.” But what else do April showers bring? Rainbows! This serves as a reminder to make your plate a beautiful array of colors.


Photo credit: Mazaletel via Flickr

Spring can bring a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. With mangos, fennel, asparagus and rhubarb in the produce aisles, get ready to excite your taste buds! Take cues from your supermarket and local farmers market for what is currently in season as they will feature the latest harvest and will also be more cost effective for your budget.

Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Frank Kehren via Flickr

When you purchase produce in season, these fruits and vegetables will be at their peak flavor. Health benefits of consuming a variety of colored foods include antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamin and minerals, dietary fiber, and hydration which help to promote a healthy heart and maintain a healthier weight.
Creating meals rich in color takes only a bit of planning and motivation to be adventurous in the kitchen. I recommend this free resource to help with meal planning: Fruits & Veggies- More Matters. This easy to navigate website includes information on what foods are in season, characteristics of each fruit and vegetable, and tips on how to keep healthy when buying on a budget.
They can also be followed on Facebook in which they post great recipes and share beautiful photos to motivate you to get more fruits and veggies onto your plate and into your mouth.

• Fruits & Veggies- More Matters:

• Facebook page:

Contributed by Rachel Lynn Martin, MS Candidate in Nutritional Science