Health Benefits of Yogurt


Yogurt is an ancient food, and has been around for 7,000 years. It is made in a variety of ways in India, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. You may have noticed that your local grocery store is full of a diverse selection of yogurts, including full-fat, low-fat, non-fat, Greek, drinkable Kefir, organic or even yogurts with added fiber.

Full-fat yogurt is made from whole milk and contains 3.25% milkfat, low-fat yogurt contains between 2 and 0.5% milkfat, and non-fat yogurt is made from skim milk and contains less than 0.5% milkfat. Greek yogurt has been strained to remove its whey, which results in a thick consistency, and about double the protein content compared to regular yogurt. Drinkable Kefir is a fermented milk with consistency and taste similar to a thin yogurt.

Whichever which type of yogurt you choose, look at the label to be sure it contains live and active cultures. These are good bacteria that transform liquid milk into yogurt and are beneficial for your gastrointestinal tract by promoting overall gut health and immunity. These live cultures help to digest lactose, so if you are lactose intolerant, yogurt may be a good option for you. Since yogurt is made from milk, it is also an important source of many nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Yogurt has been found to have many health benefits in addition to gastrointestinal health. Because it contains calcium and vitamin D, it plays a role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. In addition, yogurt intake has also been liked in a reduction in the risk of high blood pressure. It may also be a good addition to your diet if you are trying to lose weight, since it has been shown to reduce hunger and help you to feel fuller.

Try some of these ideas to add yogurt to your diet:
• Make a breakfast parfait with fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola
• Top waffles or pancakes with yogurt and fresh fruit
• Blend yogurt, fruit, and flaxseed for a smoothie
• Dip raw vegetables in yogurt
• Use yogurt for salad dressing and dip
• Top quesadillas, tacos, soup, and chili with yogurt instead of sour cream

Quick Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie


• ½ cup rolled oats
• 1 tsp chia seeds
• 14 frozen strawberries
• 6 ounces nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
• 1 banana, broken into chunks
• ½ cup almond milk
• ½ tsp vanilla extract

1. Blend oats and chia seeds together in a blender to a fine consistency. Add strawberries, yogurt, banana, almond milk, and vanilla extract; blend until smooth.

Yield: 2 servings
Nutrition Information: 253 calories, 3 g fat, 66 mg sodium, 423 mg potassium, 48 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 10 g protein

Edible Garden

Spring has officially arrived, and now is the perfect time to plan your summer garden. There are plenty of reasons to grown your own edible garden this year. Tending a garden is a fun and rewarding activity that helps you to be physically active. Growing your own produce also helps you to incorporate plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs into your diet while cutting down on your grocery bills.

The first step is to plan where to plant your garden. Choose a spot that has good soil, gets enough sun throughout the day, and is close to a water supply. Most edible plants require “full sun” or about six hours per day. Lettuce, on the other hand, does better in shade. For most plants, choose a spot in your yard with southern exposure. When watering your garden, keep in mind that you will want the soil to be moist, but not soggy. You will likely be watering at least daily for the first few weeks, and may be able to taper off to every second or third day later in the season.

When deciding where to plant, you can choose to plant in the ground, in raised beds, or in containers. Before you plant, be sure to clear any weeds and grass and to turn your soil with either a roto-tiller or a shovel. Next, add lots of organic compost to spread a six-inch deep layer. If you are not satisfied with the quality of your soil, it may be best to plant in raised beds or in containers.

The next step is to plan what you’d like to eat this summer. You should primarily plant foods that you love to eat, and maybe also a few unfamiliar vegetables. This is a good time to look through seed catalogs. If you are an inexperienced gardener, plan some easier to grow vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce and spinach.

March is a great time to start planning your edible garden so that you will be able to enjoy your delicious bounty in just a few months. Try preparing the pesto recipe below using fresh basil from your garden.

Classic Pesto
2 Tbsp chopped pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups basil leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp salt
Use a food processor to mince pine nuts and garlic. Add oil and pulse three times. Add basil, cheese and salt; process until finely minced.
Yield: ¾ cup
Serving size: 1 Tbsp
Nutrition facts per serving: 58 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 125 mg sodium

Chia Seeds

The first thought that comes to mind when thinking about chia seeds may not be of actually eating them, but of your favorite chia pet character that you may have grown. However, chia seeds can actually be a healthful addition to your diet.

Chia seeds come from a desert plant, Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico. It is originally believed to originate in Central America where it was a staple of the ancient Aztec diet. Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseed). Chia seeds have gained attention lately due to some of the good nutrition and health components that they can provide. About 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of total fat with only 1 gram coming from saturated fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fiber in addition to some calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor which makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. Most often, they are sprinkled on cereal, or added in sauces, vegetable, or rice dishes. You could also put them into smoothies, yogurt, drinks, or baked goods.
Try the recipe below from to start incorporating chia seeds into your diet.

Quick Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie (makes 2 servings)
• ½ cup rolled oats
• 1 tsp chia seeds
• 14 frozen strawberries
• 6 ounces nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
• 1 banana, broken into chunks
• ½ cup almond milk
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
1. Blend oats and chia seeds together in a blender to a fine consistency. Add strawberries, yogurt, banana, almond milk, and vanilla extract; blend until smooth.
Nutrition Information: 253 calories, 3 g fat, 66 mg sodium, 423 mg potassium, 48 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 10 g protein

National Nutrition Month 2015

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? National Nutrition Month originally started as National Nutrition Week in 1973, and as popularity grew, the week evolved into National Nutrition Month in 1980. National Nutrition Month was developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to annually campaign for nutrition education and information. Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics develops a theme to help encourage healthy habits such as healthy eating and daily physical activity.

This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which focuses on incorporating physical activity as part of your daily routine, making informed food choices, and consuming fewer calories. National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) day is also celebrated on March 11th to increase the recognition of the RDN as the nation’s food and nutrition expert. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics goals are to promote maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic disease and sponsoring overall health. RDN’s have the ability to put these goals into action by helping individuals develop their own goals to achieve a healthy lifestyle through personal tailored nutrition advice. This March, remember to “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” and try the health tips for below!

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables by incorporating them into snacks, salads, or sandwiches.
2. Cook more meals at home. Meals that are ate at home tend to be healthier and more cost effective than dining out.
3. Drink more water and less sugar sweetened beverages such as soda or non-fruit juices.
4. Eat seafood twice a week, seafood is high in omega-3 fatty acids which is a heart healthy fat that can help lower your risk for heart disease.
5. Be physically active, adults should get 150 minutes per week of exercise and children and teens should get 60 minutes per day of physical activity.

For more information on National Nutrition Month, visit

Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 large egg white
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
3. Place egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add the almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture; toss well to coat. Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes, stirring once. Turn oven off. Remove pan from oven; stir snack mix. Immediately return pan to oven for an additional 15 minutes (leave oven off). Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack; cool completely. Store snack mix in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Nutritional Information: 130 calories, 9.7 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 4.5 g protein, 7.3 g carbohydrate, 1.1 g fiber, 175 mg sodium.

Hummus and Vegetable Stuffed Pita


1 whole wheat pita bread, halved
1/2 cup hummus
1/3 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots

Spread the hummus inside the pita half. Fill with spinach and carrots and serve.

Yield: 1 serving:
Nutrition information per serving: 210 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 410 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 9 g protein