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Today, I'm sharing a quick, healthy snack for you: no-bake energy balls!

Energy balls, protein balls, date balls, no-bake energy bites...whatever you call them, they sure are delicious. In this video, you'll get my simple mix and match recipe formula PLUS my recipe for healthy no-bake energy balls with a Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate twist...they taste like cookie dough!

ENERGY BALLS Recipe | Healthy No Bake Energy Bites | Mix & Match Recipe Formula - YouTube


Energy balls are an easy and delicious healthy snack for you to say "YES!" to whether you're looking for a pre-workout energizer, a healthy after school snack for your children or an easy grab-and-go breakfast.

Plus, with my simple mix-and-match recipe formula for energy balls, you can make your own unique creation with your favorite ingredients or with whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Mix and Match Recipe Formula for No-Bake Energy Balls:

Makes 12 1-inch energy balls

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit

  • 1/2 cup of nut butter

  • 1/2 cup of oats

  • 3 Tablespoons nuts or seeds, finely chopped

  • 2 Tablespoons of tasty mix-ins (like dark chocolate chips, goji berries, unsweetened coconut shreds, or cacao nibs)

Instructions
  1. Add the dried fruit, nut butter and oats into a food processor. Pulse until they’re thoroughly combined, stirring as needed. Transfer this gooey combo to a bowl.

  2. Add nuts, seeds, and other tasty mix-ins of your choosing. Stir to combine.

  3. Roll into 1-inch round balls.

I like making Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate energy balls with 1/2 cup of pitted dates, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of oats, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped peanuts, 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

The ball is in your court now (get it?)! Will you make these no-bake Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Energy Balls? Might you make your own healthy energy ball creation with my simple mix and match recipe formula? I would love to hear what you think, so share them with me in the comments and give this video a thumbs up if you enjoyed it!

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“You failed…big time,” shared the nurse to me on the phone after my prenatal glucose screening test.

I was crushed. Disappointed. Frustrated. And fearful of what might be at risk for me - and more importantly, for my baby.

I had just completed the 1-hour glucose screening test for gestational diabetes, which involved drinking 50 grams of glucose (a sugar) within 5 minutes, waiting patiently for an hour, and receiving a one-time blood draw to test how much sugar was still circulating in my blood instead of being transported into my cells, as it should. It’s a test that is routinely recommended to pregnant women sometime between their 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

Ideally, shared the nurse, my blood glucose number should be in the 130s. Mine was 190. I realized then that not only did I fail, I failed by what I considered to be a large margin. I was shocked.

Throughout the prior 25 weeks of my pregnancy, I strived to achieve balance in my food choices. Despite multiple food aversions in my first trimester, I found nutritious alternatives. I enjoyed fresh fruit, drank smoothies with vegetables, ate whole grains, incorporated nuts and seeds, and ate beans, yogurt, and eggs. I occasionally included sweet treats, of course, but more importantly, I listened in to my own hunger and fullness cues - eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was satisfied. I knew that when it came to calories, I really didn’t need to be “eating for two” and when it came to nutrition, I needed to choose the foods to support my health and that of my baby’s. I was doing my best.

But when I heard the news that I failed my screening test, I thought that I had done something wrong. I just didn't know what. I felt embarrassed - thinking, I am a dietitian after all, how could this happen to me?! - and confused.

“You’ll have to go into the hospital for a 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test with 100-grams of glucose to see if you have gestational diabetes and we encourage you to do it within the next 5 days,” the nurse instructed.

As a total Type-A new mom, I scoured the internet for answers. I searched PubMed and Google Scholar for peer-reviewed research. I reread sections of my nutrition textbooks from grad school and intently looked at position statements from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I even went to the pharmacy to purchase a blood glucose meter and test my blood sugar on my own. I read message boards written by other mommas who were in my same position. I realized that, in failing my 1-hour glucose screening test, I wasn’t alone.

Coupled with the stress of the unknown, in the days before I took my 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test (which would involve twice the sugar and four more blood draws!), I had so many questions. So, after I failed my 1-hour glucose screening test, I searched for answers.

Here’s what I found out:

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition that happens when a pregnant woman - not formerly diagnosed with diabetes - develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Normally, insulin, a hormone, is secreted by the pancreas to help get blood sugar inside your cells to be used as energy. However, during pregnancy, rising hormone levels that serve to help grow baby also impair the action of insulin, which means that blood sugar rises too.

Why is gestational diabetes a concern during pregnancy?

Gestational diabetes carries a number of risks for both mother and baby. For mom, there is an increased risk for preeclampsia and cesarean section. For baby, macrosomia (large birth weight), shoulder dystocia and birth injury, and low blood sugar shortly after birth may result. Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes are at a greater risk for childhood obesity, and the mother is at a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.(4)

Despite this, moms with gestational diabetes and their babies can indeed go on to lead healthy, active, and vibrant lives. So fellow mommas, if you’re reading this and have or are concerned about gestational diabetes, please know that the future is still bright :)

What is the prevalence of gestational diabetes in the US?

Gestational diabetes is a fairly common pregnancy concern in the United States, estimated to affect between 4.6% and 9.2% of pregnancies. (2)

What can I do to avoid gestational diabetes?

There are some factors that increase a woman’s risk for developing gestational diabetes, including an age > 30 years, body mass index (BMI) > 25, having a first-degree relative with diabetes, and being a woman of Hispanic, African American, Native American, South or East Asian, or Pacific Island descent - and, clearly, not many of these factors can be adjusted! (4)

However, no matter a woman’s size or presence of other risk factors, eating well and exercising often prior to and during pregnancy can help a woman achieve better health during pregnancy.

Between the 1-hour glucose test (that I failed!) and my upcoming 3-hour test, I had to remind myself that even though I was doing the best that I could, pregnancy could change my body in ways that I and others may not yet understand. Perhaps my blood sugar regulating hormones just couldn’t keep up, perhaps my body was an overachiever at pumping out other hormones that impaired insulin’s action, or perhaps there was a metabolic framework or genetic code that I couldn’t control, even with a healthy, balanced eating pattern! As challenging as it was, I had to give myself grace that I and some of my former choices - like the ice cream I had on my birthday and the candy I ate on a family vacation - were not to blame or acknowledge in shame. So, I breathed. And I researched more…

Is the 1-hour glucose screening test for gestational diabetes accurate?

Turns out, the 1-hour glucose screening test is able to detect, with a 80-90% specificity, those who have gestational diabetes. (1)

But, keep in mind that the 1-hour screening test is simply that: a screening test. It is rarely used as a diagnostic test alone (especially if results are <200mg/dL). If results come back outside of normal limits, the 1-hour test is routinely coupled with a more extensive 3-hour glucose tolerance test.

In fact, one study published in 2017 demonstrated that of pregnant moms who test between 135-143 mg/dL on their 1-hour test, the risk (or positive predictive value) for gestational diabetes is just 20%. And, of those who test between 174-199 mg/dL on their 1-hour test, their risk (or positive predictive value) for gestational diabetes is 61%. (3)

For me, it seemed as though I had a 6 in 10 chance of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and a 4 in 10 chance of not. Though my 1-hour glucose test came back high and a gestational diabetes diagnosis could indeed result, that test alone was not indicative of gestational diabetes.

What blood glucose values are considered abnormal during the 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test?

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when there are 2 or more abnormal values demonstrated during the 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT):

  • Fasting ≥95 mg/dL

  • 1-hour ≥180 mg/dL

  • 2-hour ≥155 mg/dL

  • 3-hr ≥140 mg/dL (1)

What can you do about a gestational diabetes diagnosis during pregnancy?

If a mom-to-be is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a medical nutrition therapy and physical activity is considered the first-line of treatment! (4) Mom can and should work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to put a plan in place to help achieve better blood sugar balance, to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, and to make sure mom and baby get a steady supply of essential nutrients during pregnancy. Mom should also monitor her blood sugar daily to better understand if normal blood sugar is maintained or if further treatment - like insulin therapy - is needed.

The great news about all this is that research demonstrates that women with gestational diabetes who receive individualized medical nutrition therapy from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) works! Working with an RDN can improve control of mom’s blood sugar, and lead to reductions in the incidence of macrosomia (large birth weight babies), hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, NICU admissions, and more.(4)

what can i eat if i have gestational diabetes?

Your eating pattern may change a lot (or just a little bit!) if you have gestational diabetes. In your appointments with your RDN, you’ll be asked about all things related to food and nutrition including the foods you eat, any recent changes in appetite, where/how you eat, your access to food, how you prepare food, and your readiness to change. Your RDN will then work with you to put a plan in place for you moving forward - which will include eating a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. Yep, you read that right…gestational diabetes does not mean that you have to give up all carbs! In fact, many carbs deliver important components to growing a healthy baby. Your RDN will work with you to help optimize all aspects of your eating plan - including carbohydrates.

So, was I diagnosed with gestational diabetes?

Despite failing my 1-hour blood glucose screening, I passed all 4-tests included in the 3-hour blood glucose tolerance test and was not diagnosed with gestational diabetes. And, results from my at-home blood glucose monitor continue to show blood glucose numbers in normal ranges after I’ve fasted and after I’ve eaten meals. I am thankful - yet I leave the gestational diabetes screening journey changed.

I understand that a failed medical test is not just a failed medical test and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes is not just a diagnosis - it can all be scary and overwhelming. Yet, it can also be an opportunity - an opportunity learn more about the condition itself, yes, but also to learn more about ourselves and about others.

As I sat in the waiting room of the hospital the day of my 3-hour test, nervous for my results, I saw three moms leaving the hospital with their newborns in their lap and I understood this: this test was not about me…it was not a measure of my effectiveness as a dietitian, my value as a person, or an assessment of how I’ll be as a mom. It was there to help us - me, my husband, my doctor, and my medical team - know what to do to continue to nourish and care for a healthy baby…and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me anyway.

References:

1. Metzger BE, Coustan DR. Summary and Recommendations of the Fourth International Workshop-Conference on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Care. 1998 Aug;21(Suppl 2):B161–7. 

2. DeSisto CL, Kim SY, Sharma AJ. Prevalence estimates of gestational diabetes mellitus in the United States, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 2007-2010. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E104.

3. Tita ATN, Landon MB, Lai Y, et al. Predictive Characteristics of Elevated 1-Hour Glucose Challenge Test Results for Gestational Diabetes. American Journal of Perinatology. 2017;34(14):1464-1469. doi:10.1055/s-0037-1604243.

4. Duarte-Gardea MO, Gonzales-Pacheco DM, Reader DM et al. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Gestational Diabetes Evidence-Based Nutrition Practice Guideline. 2018 September;11(9):1719-1742.




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Stumble upon any food blog or cooking magazine, and you’re bound to find a recipe for cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza crust, or cauliflower mashed “potatoes.” Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable that even TIME Magazine dubbed cauliflower “the new ‘IT’ vegetable” and the New York Times recently wrote about the vegetable’s “ascension.”

As more people look to adopt plant-based, gluten-free, low-carb, or veggie-friendly ways of eating, cauliflower is a nutrient-packed choice! It’s full of good-for-you vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, folate and dietary fiber. In fact, each cup of cauliflower delivers nearly all of the vitamin C most adults require in one day!

You (like me!) may already enjoy cauliflower in multiple ways - like as roasted cauliflower, in stir-fry or as part of a salad, or raw with a delicious dip like hummus or guacamole. You may have also experimented with new cauliflower recipes like cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, or cauliflower pizza crust. The ways you can prepare cauliflower truly seem limitless!

That’s why I’ve partnered with my friends at Foxy Produce to share with you 3 MORE nutritious ways to say “YES!” to enjoying cauliflower more often. Cauliflower can be used to amp up the nutrition in your smoothies, to make a cauliflower “steak,” and to create cauliflower taco crumbles. Watch how easy it is!

3 Healthy Cauliflower Recipes: Cauliflower Smoothie, Cauliflower Steak & Cauliflower Taco Crumbles - YouTube
3 Healthy, Delicious & Unique Ways to say “YES!” to Cauliflower Add Cauliflower to Smoothies.

Adding frozen cauliflower to smoothies is sweet, literally! Frozen cauliflower ingredients are nearly flavorless in a smoothie, which means that your other flavorful ingredients can stand out. I’ll add around a 1/2 cup of frozen cauliflower to my smoothies for extra nutrition. Watch how I make my Strawberry Cauliflower Smoothie here! The recipe is simple. Just combine 1 cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup of frozen cauliflower florets, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 2 tablespoons of almond butter, and ice.

Make Cauliflower Steak.

Cutting and roasting your cauliflower in 1/2-inch thick slices makes for a hearty vegetable “steak.” You can use your favorite seasonings, spices, or spreads on your steaks - like buffalo sauce, stir-fry sauce, or a savory salad dressing. Then, roast the cauliflower steaks in an oven at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Get the recipe for Cauliflower Steak with Pesto & Hemp Seeds here!

Enjoy Cauliflower Taco Crumbles.

I think this unique cauliflower recipe is one you’ll want on repeat every Taco Tuesday! Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Finely chop cauliflower into two cups of tiny cubes and add them to a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, paprika and oregano, and add 1/8 teaspoon of salt (optional) to your cauliflower crumbles. This recipe is spicy, so use less spices (or more cauliflower!) if you’d like it more mild. Add the crumbles to a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Then, add cauliflower taco crumbles by the spoonful to your hard or soft tortilla shell and layer over your other favorite taco ingredients, like corn, black beans, salsa, and avocado.

What’s your favorite way to use cauliflower? Are you a fan of cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower mashed potatoes or cauliflower rice? Will you try adding cauliflower to your smoothies, as a cauliflower steak, or will you make cauliflower taco crumbles? As always, I love hearing from you! Leave a comment below and share your cauliflower creations with me on Instagram @ToriSchmittRDN.

Thank you to Foxy Produce for sponsoring this video! Partners like Foxy Produce allow YES! Nutrition to continue to share healthy tips, recipe ideas, and nutritious solutions with all of you! Thank you for your support!

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Breakfast isn't exactly the easiest meal to enjoy. Whether you're rushing to get ready for work in the morning or hurrying to get the kids off to school (or both!), finding the time to prepare a nutritious meal might seem more like a luxury than a reality. 

But, breakfast is an important meal! And while I'm not going to say it's the "most" important meal (all meals truly are important!), breakfast does provide an opportunity to nourish your body with the energy that it needs to begin its day, plus the nutrients it needs to help your body run better throughout the day.

In fact, some evidence demonstrates that among women who are stressed, those who skip breakfast eat more empty calories, saturated fat, and added sugar later in the day compared to those who actually eat a morning meal. Beyond that, breakfast skipping is a big concern since missing the meal is associated with a lower overall consumption of important nutrients like fiber, calcium, vitamin D, potassium and folate. (1, 2). 

September marks Better Breakfast Month, so I thought it would be good to give you a roundup -- a quick guidebook -- of the healthy tips, easy tools, and delicious recipes you can use to get your day off to an energized, nutritious start this month and all year long. 

I've gathered my top tips, tools and recipes from around the web to help you say "YES" to enjoying Better Breakfast Month, well, better!

Better Breakfast Guide | Tips & ToolsHow To Create a Better Breakfast | Foxy Produce Blog

In this blog, I share four EASY ways to create a better breakfast, like by planning ahead, baking it in advance, making it in under 5 minutes, and MYO-to-go (make your own to go!). 

4 Healthy Breakfast Ideas For When You Need to Get Out The Door, Quickly! | life'sDHA Blog

These four ideas help you enjoy nutritious options in the mornings, even when you're busy! 

16 Simple Breakfasts Nutritionists Swear By | Prevention Magazine

From savory avocado toast and a veggie egg scramble to sweet banana oat pancakes and overnight oats, top nutritionists shared their favorite ideas for simple, healthy breakfasts. Check out my simple recipe for oat pancakes within!

11 Things To Eat For Breakfast When You're Bored of Eggs | Women's Health Magazine

Though I love eggs, Women's Health Mag asked me for some of my favorite egg-free breakfast recipes. Check out my ideas and those of other Registered Dietitians in this article.

4 Delicious Ways to Eat Vegetables for Breakfast | YES! Nutrition Blog

Struggle to get enough vegetables at breakfast? This resource will give you plenty of nutritious and delicious ideas! 

Better Breakfast Guide | Recipes Blueberry Cream Smoothie 

This smoothie is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, high in protein AND just downright delicious! Plus, you'd never know it by its vibrant purple color, but this smoothie includes TWO vegetables!

  Easy Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Using real pumpkin puree (which is naturally packed with Vitamin A), these waffles hit the spot in September and all fall long!

  Tropical Green Smoothie with Collagen

The flavor of tropical pineapple sweetly stands out in this smoothie, all while offering nutrient-packed kale, anti-inflammatory turmeric and the protein boost from collagen - an ingredient that may support skin and joint health. 

  Protein Waffles with Peanut Butter, Strawberries and Cacao Nibs

These protein waffles offer over 14 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving - that's unlike other waffle recipes! 

How do you enjoy a better breakfast?  What are your favorite breakfast foods?  Are you a breakfast skipper or is breakfast your favorite meal of the day?  I'd love to hear your comments on all things breakfast - and your questions, too! - so drop a comment below to let me know. 

Have a healthy and happy Better Breakfast Month!

References

  1. Widaman, AM, Witbracht, MG, Forester, SM, Laugero, KD, Keim, NL. Chronic Stress Is Associated with Indicators of Diet Quality in Habitual Breakfast Skippers. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016, May 7: 2212-2672. http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(16)30080-6/pdf
  2. Nicklas, TA, Myers, L, Reger, C, Beech, B, Berenson, GS. Impact of Breakfast Consumption on Nutritional Adequacy of the Diets of Young Adults in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1998:98(12):1432-1438.
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What is collagen? Are collagen peptides good for you? What are the benefits of eating collagen and how much, if any, should you have per day? How do you use collagen peptides in food? There are a lot of questions that I get about this popular new protein source, so I thought I'd give you the facts and my thoughts in today's blog post and video. 

What is COLLAGEN? + Tropical Green Smoothie RECIPE with Collagen - YouTube
What is collagen? 

Collagen is a type of protein found in the skin, hair, nails, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bones and other tissues in animals that helps support those structures. In fact, it is the most abundant protein found within the body. 

Where does collagen come from? What is collagen made of?

When collagen is hydrolyzed (i.e. "broken down"), it forms simpler protein units called peptides. Now, collagen peptides (sometimes called "collagen hydrolysate") are available in dietary supplements including powders, capsules, and tablets.  Collagen available on the market today comes from both land and marine animals, primarily from cattle and fish. It is also sourced from chicken, pigs, and eggshell membranes. Because collagen is sourced from animal(s), collagen peptides are not considered a fit in a vegan eating pattern. 

What are the benefits of eating collagen? Do collagen supplements work?
  • Collagen may support skin health by improving skin elasticity. In an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study of women between 35 and 55 years of age, those who consumed 2.5 to 5.0 grams of collagen hydrolysate once daily were found to have a statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity, per objective measurements. That being said, no statistically significant difference was seen in skin moisture or in water loss through the skin. (Source)
  • Collagen may support skin health by reducing the volume of wrinkles around the eyes. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Skin Pharmacology & Physiology in 2014, 114 women between the ages of 45-65 years were randomized to receive either 2.5 grams of a specific collagen peptide product or a placebo for 2 weeks. After both 4 and 8 weeks of consuming collagen, a statistically significant reduction in eye wrinkle volume was demonstrated in the collagen-consumers vs. those who consumed the placebo. (Source)
  • Collagen may support joint health by improving joint pain. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of male and female athletes at Penn State University randomized athletes into two groups: the experimental group to consume a liquid formulation with 10 grams of collagen hydrolysate and the control group to consume a placebo. Measuring change through visual analogue scales, at the end of the 24-week study, those who consumed the collagen (compared with those who had the placebo) demonstrated statistically significant changes in joint pain at rest (as assessed by a physician), as well as joint pain at rest, when walking, when standing, when carrying objects, and when lifting (as assessed by the study participant). And, when a subgroup of those with knee pain in particular were assessed, even more pronounced changed were noticed among those who consumed the collagen. (Source)
  • Collagen may support joint health by improving measures of pain and function in those with osteoarthritis. A review published in 2006 in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion shares that "collagen hydrolysate [appears] to be safe and to provide improvement in some measures of pain and function in some men and women with OA or other arthritic conditions." Yet, the authors point out their hopes for future research to clarify specifically how collagen exerts its clinical effects. (Source)
How much collagen per day should you have?

There are no standard recommendations for the amount of collagen a person should consume each day. As a general guideline, women need around 46 grams of protein per day and men need around 56 grams of protein per day, or about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This can and ideally should come from a variety of food sources of protein, which may (or may not) include collagen peptides.  

My bottom line clinical thoughts on collagen:

While collagen appears to be safe to consume, at the end of the day, more research is needed to elucidate how collagen consumption may provide specific clinical benefits related to skin and joint health.

It's exciting that the studies available showed statistically significant improvement in some factors of skin and joint health, but I don't think collagen alone is the miracle cure to heal arthritis and joint pain, nor is it a guaranteed sure solution for supple skin. There are a number of dietary factors that support both! 

However, consuming collagen peptides may be an effective, easy, and alternative way to get additional protein and a variety of amino acids (particularly glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline) into your meals and snacks.

If you want to include collagen, go for it! Many collagen peptide powders are tasteless, odorless, and dissolve easily in water, so they can be included in smoothies and soups. In fact, I used collagen to make my tasty Tropical Green Smoothie. Check out the recipe below!

Tropical Green Smoothie with CollagenIngredients:
  • 1 cup of frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup of kale, loosely packed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 scoop of collagen peptides (containing ~10 grams collagen protein)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
Instructions:
  1. Add the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until thoroughly combined and smooth. 

Will you say "YES" this Tropical Green Smoothie? Have you tried collagen before, and if so, how did you use it? I'd love to hear what you have to say, so drop a comment below!

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Want easy meal prep, on-the-go, healthy lunch recipes? Look no further than this ULTIMATE Salad In a Jar! If prepping healthy lunches is a challenge for you, salad in a jar will make your meal prep MUCH easier! 

In this video, I've partnered with my friends at Foxy Produce to help you learn how to make salad in a jar with your own favorite ingredients PLUS I'm sharing the recipe for the ULTIMATE Salad in a Jar Recipe with strawberries, garbanzo beans, and cauliflower. It's so YUM! 

How to Make Salad In A Jar | RECIPE | Mason Jar Salads with Foxy Produce - YouTube
How to Make Salad In a Jar

First, grab your clean, glass jar. Quart-sized glass jars* work well for making entree salads and pint-sized jars* work well for side salads, fruit salads, or any smaller combination of a mason jar meal. I like using wide mouth jars since they are easier to stuff and easier to pour! 

Start with your wet ingredients on the bottom, like dressing. Then, layer in your heaviest and non-absorbent ingredients first, like firm vegetables (raw cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas). Then, continue to layer with more least-absorbent ingredients (like berries and tomatoes) all the way to the softer ingredients at the top (or just those ones that are more prone to get soggy, like cheese).  Special note: if you're planning on storing your salads for more than one day and wanting to use softer proteins on your salad (like hardboiled eggs, tuna, chicken, or fruits subject to browning like avocados) I'd suggest waiting to add these until you're ready to eat the salad. Finally, finish layering by adding your favorite leafy green vegetable and screw on your jar's lid.

Store in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat, making sure to keep the jar upright! Simply unscrew the lid when ready to eat and shake into a bowl. You may need to use a fork to help you get out all the delicious goodness! Then, eat! 

The Benefits of Homemade Salad In A Jar

Is salad in a jar good for you? You bet! Here's why I think it's a good idea to make salad in a jar:

  1. EASY: They're easy to make! Once you have all the ingredients washed, chopped and ready-to-go, layering your salads into the jars can happen in a snap! In fact, it's SO easy even your children can help! 
  2. READY WHEN YOU ARE: You can store mason jar salads in your fridge until you're ready to eat them. That means that if you'd like to prep a batch of 4 or 5 salads on Sunday night to grab throughout the whole week for lunch at work, you can!
  3. PACKED WITH NUTRITION: You can combine your favorite ingredients together. I happen to love the combo of beans, berries and greens, which is why my classic YES! Nutrition salad (featured below) offers all three!  You can also strategically think about which nutrients you want to maximize in your salad and add them in accordingly. For example, for healthy carbohydrates in your salad in a jar, add in fruit, whole grains (like quinoa or wheat berries), beans, or corn. For protein in your salad, consider adding beans (yep, these feature both fiber-rich carbs AND plant-based proteins), nuts, seeds, hardboiled eggs, and/or cheeses. And, for healthy fats, consider adding in an olive oil/vinegar dressing, olives, nuts/seeds, or pair your salad with guacamole or avocado on the side. Of course, you can add in all of the vegetables you can fit into your jar, too! Your options are SO limitless!
  4. GRAB-AND-GO: Heading out to work?  Simply grab a bowl, a fork, and your prepped salad in a jar from the fridge and out the door you go! Or, for the true salad-in-a-jar pros: keep your bowl and fork at work, so you only have to take your jar with you as you leave. 
Creative Ideas For Making Salad In A Jar

Want to make preparing salads in a jar even easier? Here are some fun ideas for you to enjoy making salad in a jar with your friends or family:

  1. HOST A SALAD IN A JAR PARTY: Ask your friends to bring ONE ingredient (one person brings the beans, one person brings the greens, one person brings the dressing, etc.) and ask everyone to bring their own jars. When together, simply set out all of the ingredients on the table and go around the table filling your jars. 
  2. SWAP WITH A FRIEND: Find a friend who also wants to prepare salad in a jar for busy weeks. Then, separately, each prepare 4 salads. Meet up and swap two of the jars with each other. You'll only prep one version, but you'll get another unique salad combo in return! Yay for variety! 
  3. COWORKER SALAD SHARE: With a group of co-workers, assign each person to prepare salads for the whole group for a certain day of the week. In other words, you may prepare a salad for each member of group on Monday, but your other coworkers cover the other days. You make lunch once a week (for everyone), then they pay back the favor! Simple!
Salad In A Jar Recipe Combinations

So many delicious combinations can be made with your favorite produce items to create a healthy and totally delicious salad in a jar. Here are some of my favorite salad in a jar recipes. Just remember, layer these ingredients from the bottom of your jar to the top of your jar to keep all your ingredients as firm as you can until you're ready to eat and enjoy!  

  • Strawberry Spinach Salad: 2 tablespoons Raspberry Vinaigrette, 1/4 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup gorgonzola crumbles, 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, 2 cups spinach. 
  • Blueberry Chickpea Salad: 2 tablespoons of your favorite dressing, 1/3 cup of chickpeas, 1/4 cup of cauliflower florets, 1/4 cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons of feta cheese, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, 2 cups of greens.
  • Southwest Salad: 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/3 cup black beans, 1/4 cup corn, 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper, 2 tablespoons pico de gallo, 2 cups of romaine lettuce. Carry a single-serve pack of guacamole on the side to add to the salad when ready.
  • Asian Chop Salad: 2 tablespoons shiitake sesame dressing, 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped yellow pepper, 1/3 cup shelled edamame, 2 tablespoons shredded carrots, 1/2 cup red cabbage, 3/4 cup green cabbage, 2 tablespoons hemp seeds.
The ULTIMATE Salad In A Jar RecipeIngredients
  • 2 tablespoons of Green Goddess dressing (like this one!*)
  • 1/2 cup of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup of cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon of feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
  • 2 cups (or more) of your favorite leafy green vegetable, like spinach (kale, romaine, chard, BroccoLeaf, etc. all work here!)
Instructions
  1. In a quart sized jar, add the dressing. 
  2. Then, layer in the chickpeas, cauliflower, and strawberries.
  3. Next, layer on top the feta cheese and the hemp seeds. 
  4. Fill the jar to the top with your favorite leafy green vegetable.
  5. Screw the jar's lid on top and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. 
  6. Once ready, unscrew the lid and shake the salad into a bowl. You may need to use a fork to help you get all the salad out of the jar! 

Have you ever made Salad in a Jar?  What ingredients did you use?  Share your favorite salad in a jar ingredient combos with me below.  And, if you try the ULTIMATE Salad In a Jar recipe shared above, let me know that, too!

 

Thank you, Foxy Produce, for sponsoring this food video! Sponsors allow YES! Nutrition to continue to share healthy tips, recipe ideas, and nutritious solutions with all of you. Thank you for your support!

*This post includes Amazon Affiliate Links. 

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YES! Nutrition Blog by Tori Schmitt, Ms, Rdn, Ld - 1y ago

Are you hitting the trail this summer? Wherever your trail takes you, this summer and beyond, homemade trail mix is an easy and totally nutritious option to say "YES!" to!  Today, I'm showing you how healthy homemade trail mix can help you have a healthy snack when you're on-the-go, when you're traveling, or when you're simply enjoying a handful at home!  

This simple DIY mix-and-match recipe for homemade trail mix can please all taste buds. And it offers good nutrition, too! Each bite is full of healthy fats, protein and fiber from whole, real food ingredients like whole grain cereal, nuts and seeds, and delicious add-ins.  

Let's get (trail) mixing!

TRAIL MIX RECIPE | Healthy, Homemade & DIY - YouTube
How to make your own trail mix: a mix-and-match recipe

To make healthy homemade trail mix, combine:

  • 2 cups of whole grains, like multigrain flakes with flaxseed, toasted oat cereal, popcorn, or a combination of your favorites
  • 1 cup of nuts and seeds, like cashews, pecans, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or a combination of your favorites
  • 1/2 cup of tasty add-ons, like dried fruit, unsweetened coconut shreds, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, goji berries, or a combination of your favorites

Simply stir all of the ingredients together and add to a glass jar. Seal and store for up to one week! 

Mix-and-match trail mix recipe combinations

Enjoy these mix-and-match trail mix recipe combinations or make your own homemade trail mix using the simple formula above:

  • Classic Trail Mix: 2 cups of multigrain flakes, 1/3 cup of almonds, 1/3 cup cashews, 1/3 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (this is what I made in the video and in the primary recipe below!)
  • Breakfast Banana Pecan Oats Trail Mix: 2 cups of toasted oat cereal, 3/4 cup of pecans, 1/4 cup of peanuts, 1/4 cup of dried bananas, 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut shreds
  • Tropical Trail Mix: 1 cup of whole grain flakes, 1 cup of toasted oat cereal, 1/3 cup of macadamia nuts, 1/3 cup of cashews, 1/3 cup of Brazil nuts, 1/4 cup of golden raisins, 2 tablespoons of dried banana, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut shreds
  • Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Lovers Trail Mix: 2 cups multigrain flakes with cinnamon and cocoa, 3/4 cup peanuts, 1/4 cup almonds, 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • Popcorn Trail Mix: 2 cups of air-popped popcorn, 1/2 cup of peanuts, 1/2 cup of pistachios, 1/4 cup dried cherries, 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
The benefits of homemade trail mix

Is homemade trail mix good for you? You bet! Homemade trail mix offers several benefits! I find that the benefits of homemade trail mix are as follows: 

  1. It’s easy to make homemade trail mix! You can combine all your ingredients in less than 5 minutes. Simple!
  2. You can add the ingredients to this mix-and-match trail mix recipe that you or your family like best. That means even the pickiest of eaters can enjoy this trail mix. The mix-and-match formula makes it enjoyable for all!
  3. The trail mix features healthy fats, protein and fiber from real food ingredients. That's a combination that delivers both the energy you need right now AND the energy that can sustain you for a longer period of time! Yay! 
How to eat trail mix

There are several ways that you can eat and enjoy trail mix. Here are some of my favorite ways to use trail mix:

  • Eat trail mix by the handful as a tasty snack! I like packing snack size portions into reusable snack bags (like these!*) for easy grab-and-go.
  • Top homemade trail mix onto plain Greek yogurt -- it adds a crunchy texture and additional flavor, similar to granola. 
  • Enjoy it like cereal! Pour your favorite homemade trail mix combo into a bowl and top it with your favorite milk or non-dairy beverage.
  • Sprinkle homemade trail mix overtop of your next smoothie bowl!
Healthy Homemade Classic Trail Mix:Ingredients
  • 2 cups of multibran flakes with flaxseed, like these*
  • 1/3 cup of almonds
  • 1/3 cup of cashews
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of dried, unsweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Store in a glass jar until ready to enjoy or carry with you on your next adventure. I typically enjoy 1/4- to 1/2-cup portions at one time. 
  3. [Note: you can seal and store this for up to one week!]

 

This homemade trail mix recipe combination is great to tote with you to all your travels this summer and beyond. Will you say "YES!" to this fun, fresh food idea? Leave a comment to let me know what you think - or what combination you'll try first! I love hearing what you have to say!  Share your thoughts or share this healthy recipe with a friend!

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