National Healthy Lunch Day

17 Nov

National Healthy Lunch Day

There’s a lot happening on the diabetes front this month – it’s American Diabetes Month and today is National Healthy Lunch Day, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.

The intent of National Healthy Lunch day is to ignite a dialogue about the importance of healthy eating and moving the country towards healthier lunch habits – both today, and beyond.

One of the key tenets of good health and weight management is preparing more of your food yourself…while eating less food from restaurants and other prepared food establishments.

When you cook at home – YOU are in ultimate control. In fact, a study presented just last week at the American Heart Association’s 2015 scientific sessions found that eating more homemade meals may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In this study of 58,000 females from the Nurses Health Study and 41,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were followed for 36 years found that:

  • People who ate about two homemade lunches or dinners each day — or about 11-14 meals a week — had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to people who ate less than six homemade lunches or dinners a week.

Preparing foods at home helps you contain cost, contain calories, boost fiber intake and minimize unwanted weight gain.

So this National Healthy Lunch Day – get packing your own lunch with some easy-to-use tools available for download from the American Heart Association here.



HelloFresh: High Fiber Meals Dropped at Your Door

10 Nov

HelloFresh: High Fiber Meals Dropped at Your Door

Are we living in the Golden Age of Food?

It seems that in almost every corner of this country people increasingly have access to high quality, healthy foods. Sometimes it comes at a price. And sometimes it comes to your door.

With all of the home-delivered, semi-prepared meal options out there, it can be challenging to sort through the noise. And while many home-delivery meal services do deliver on taste, price and nutrition are sometimes relegated to the back seat.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to discover HelloFresh – a company that delivers delicious and healthy recipes with all the pre-measured ingredients to your door each week.


How it Works

HelloFresh provided me with 3 sample meals for this blog post. They have a Classic Food Box (for omnivores) and a Veggie Box (for herbivores). The classic meals start at $10.75 per person, per meal (including shipping) while vegetarian meals start at $9.08 per person, per meal (also including shipping).

The box arrives on your doorstep (appropriately refrigerated I might add…food safety first!); and each meal is perfectly packed with individual, pre-portioned ingredients and beautiful, descriptive recipe cards.

And when it comes to the chef’s selections, this is not your run-of-the-mill mac-and-cheese type of vegetarian menu! The week I received meals included:

The ingredients were packed individually to maintain freshness and each recipe card has a step-by-step preparation process laid out with gorgeous acompanying food photography.

I love that all of the HelloFresh recipes include the nutritional analysis – and each of the meals I sampled had between 9-26 grams of fiber per serving.


Why Cook at Home More?

Cooking at home(vs. eating out) is your best bet for health – and your wallet. A service like HelloFresh can infuse life back into your home cooking routine. Having food come to you (vs. you going to it) forces you to try new ingredients. I had been meaning to try both sunchokes and kale chips – and voilà…they showed up on my doorstep to work their way into my weeknight meal!

Another impressive component of HelloFresh’s operation is their nationwide delivery options. So many innovative home food delivery companies are limited to New York, San Francisco and not much else; but not HelloFresh (unless you live in Hawaii or Alaska…they’re not there yet).

All of the HelloFresh recipes are available online, so you can continue to make your favorite meals at home. They also have an incredible blog filled with great information on how to cook, tips about cooking tools and recipes and stories from their team.

If you’re looking for a healthy (and high fiber) home-delivered meal service, I would highly recommend HelloFresh! Check out my favorite HelloFresh recipe – Afghan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin, Mint, and Lemon below.




Afghan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin, Mint, and Lemon

Recipe from HelloFresh, Serves 2


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 oz carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 oz fresh mint
  • 1 can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 Tablespoon oil


  • Prep the veggies: halve, peel and dice the onion. Peel the carrots and then finely dice. Finely chop the celery. Mince or grate the garlic. Zest the lemon, then halve. Cut one half into 4 wedges. Thinly slice the fresh mint, reserving a few leaves for garnish.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and cook, tossing, for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the cumin and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the tomatoes and the dried mint to the pot. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes until almost smooth. Add the lentils, and 2 cups water to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the sliced mint and the juice of half the lemon and stir to combine. If you have a blender, you can blend the soup for a creamier consistency.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with lemon zest (to taste), reserved lemon wedges, and fresh mint leaves. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information 

Amount per serving; recipe makes 2 servings

  • 530 calories
  • 8 g total fat
  • 134 mg sodium
  • 93 g carbohydrate
  • 26 g dietary fiber
  • 29 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with sample meals from HelloFresh for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

5 Nov

Fresh Food From a Blender: The Vitamix Cookbook

I recently received a copy of The Vitamix Cookbook: 250 Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Make in Your Blender to review here on the fiber blog. Although I’ve been a Vitamix owner for about 5 years, I’m always eager for more recipes to test the limits of this timeless kitchen appliance.

For some historical context, I was a reluctant convert to Vitamix. My husband – Mr. Fiber – brought me on board following an unauthorized trip to Costco that happened to coincide with an in-store Vitamix Road Show.

He was as mesmerized by the demonstration as I was dumbfounded by the price. I plotted to return it (as I do with roughly all of his Costco purchases), but after flipping through the Whole Foods Recipes book that came with the Vitamix, I was sold.

Sure, I figured, you can continue to keep buying, breaking and replacing $30 blenders with crappy motors that can’t handle frozen fruit…or you can buy the Cadillac of blenders that is so powerful, it can make both hot soup AND frozen desserts.


High Fiber Soup in a Snap

Although most people think smoothies or juices when it comes to blending, for me, it’s all about the soup. I have always been in awe of the power of the Vitamix, with its blades that can reach speeds fast enough to create friction heat that bring soup ingredients to steaming hot in 4-6 minutes.

When I got my copy of The Vitamix Cookbook, I flipped right to Chapter 4 for Soups, Salads and Sides. The book features 40 fresh, new soup recipes that bring flavor to life in just a few minutes.

Most of the soups in the book have at least 3 g dietary fiber and under 500 mg sodium per serving, a good balance for homemade soups, which are hands-down healthier than canned, store-bought versions.


A Bit About the Book…

The Vitamix Cookbook is authored by Jodi Berg, the current President and CEO of Vitamix and a fourth-generation member of the 100-year old Vitamix company family. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical introduction in the book, which explains the foundations of the company.

Jodi explains how her great-grandfather founded the business, and that other Vitamix family members were challenged by digestive problems that caused them to seek solace in whole foods.

I love that all of the recipes in the Vitamix Cookbook are accompanied by accurate nutrient analysis, including dietary fiber (since most cookbooks forget fiber.) The food photography is beautiful and the layout of the recipes makes it easy to navigate and plot what’s going to go into the Vitamix next.


The Power of Whole Grain Flours

Chapter 2 features Breakfast and Brunch recipes, with great ideas for incorporating a variety of whole grain flours.

I have been using my Vitamix to make my toddler daughter baby food since she could eat, and I’ll certainly be incorporating the Banana Waffles (3 g fiber) and Bran Cherry Muffins (6 g fiber) recipes from this cookbook into our morning meals repertoire.


Recipe Rundown

I tested 8 recipes from the book – one from each chapter – and not surprisingly, my favorite was the soup sample, “Spiced Butternut Squash Soup”. With just 160 calories, 110 mg sodium and 4 g dietary fiber, this is a notably nutritious step up from your typical squash soup.

The Spiced Butternut Squash Soup recipe is below – but in the meantime, check out your own copy of The Vitamix Cookbook over at Amazon, and for more great Vitamix tips, tricks, videos and recipes, visit the Vitamix website.




Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe from The Vitamix Cookbook by Jodi Berg


  • 4 cups (471 g) peeled, chunked butternut squash
  • 2 medium Gala apples (11 oz / 317 g), seeded and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cup (89 g) torn kale leaves
  • 1 cup (128 g) diced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups (1.2 liters) carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (73 g) raw almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • Combine the squash, apples, kale, onion, vinegar, carrot juice, almond milk, almonds, and spices in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Ladle half of the hot mixture into he Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select Variable 1. Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 1 minute.
  • Pour the pureed soup into a clean pot. Repeat with the remaining soup. Stir together both batches to combine. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Amount per 1 cup (240 ml) Serving

  • 160 calories
  • 4.5 g total fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 110 mg sodium
  • 27 g total carbohydrate
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 6 g sugars
  • 5 g protein

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the Vitamix Cookbook for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.


Stack a Smarter Sandwich

3 Nov

Stack a Smarter Sandwich

Today is National Sandwich Day; but America’s favorite handheld meal isn’t always the greatest go-to when it comes to nutrition.

According to one study, 49% of Americans age 20 and older eat a sandwich every day. And sandwiches account for roughly 1/5 of daily sodium intake.

If you stack it wrong, your next sandwich could set off a hypertensive crisis.

Here’s how to build a better sandwich working your improvements from the outside in:


Beware of Your Bread

The salt in cheese and processed meat is low hanging fruit in the sandwich sodium conundrum. You should actually be more afraid of your bread and the sodium that it’s sheltering.

A typical slice of bread can have 250-400 mg sodium – and that’s per piece. Considering that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 mg per day, it’s not worth it to suffer so much sodium in sliced bread.

A few rules of thumb for selecting better breads:

  • Go for whole – look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient & avoid products “made with” while grains; “made with” just usually means white bread batter with a bit of whole grain thrown in at the end
  • 3 g fiber rule – a bread with whole grain in the first ingredient will usually have 3 g dietary fiber or more per slice; 3 g fiber per slice is a good bet when you’re picking your pan
  • For sodium sleuths – look for around 150 mg sodium or less per slice

Some best bets for lower sodium whole wheat breads are:

For a good read on sodium sneaking around in your breads, check out this CSPI article “Finding the Best Sliced Bread”.


Get Choosy with Your Cheese

Cheese and salt are synonymous. You can’t eat low salt cheese because a.) there’s no such thing and b.) it would be revolting if there were.

Instead, choose naturally lower-sodium cheese selections, such as:

  • Mozzarella
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Swiss
  • Monterey Jack
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesan

When it comes to lower sodium cheeses that actually taste legit, I like Alpine Lace – they cut the saturated fat and salt, without compromising taste.


Lower Lunch Meat Sodium at Home

One surefire way to curb the sodium in your sammies is to select meat or cheese, but not both. Luncheon meats and cheese are naturally higher sodium choices, and to be honest, you don’t need both.

But if you must maintain meat in your lunch, look for lower sodium versions of old standbys like turkey, ham and roast beef.

Another easy (and cheaper) option is to just rinse your standard lunch meat under running water. This is estimated to reduce sodium by about 30%.

When it comes to firing up the faucet, keep in mind you are also rinsing away the preservatives, so be sure to eat your rinsed lunch meat right away vs. re-storing in the refrigerator.


Cool it on the Condiments

If you cut the sodium in bread, meat and cheese, you’ve got the most serious salt problems out of the way. But sodium lurks in condiments too.

Keep these high sodium condiments on the minimum:

  • Ketchup (150 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Relish (160 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Barbecue sauce (175 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Steak sauce (280 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Low fat salad dressings

If you want to slather your bread with lower sodium condiments, why not try making your own? Check out these home made lower-sodium condiment ideas from Cooking Light. They whip up in no time and taste so much like the real deal that you won’t miss the salt.


Sandwich Day at SUBWAY

If you want to get in on celebrating National Sandwich Day – Subway is offering a buy one, give one sandwich deal at participating SUBWAY restaurants. They’re launching this along with their “exclusive” SUB Emoji on Twitter.






You can get in on the game by tagging your tweets with #savelunchbreak. And if you want to really soup up your SUBWAY, ask your Sandwich Artist to “run it through the garden“. Piling your SUBWAY high with all of the fresh vegetable offerings in a footlong can net you up to 4 full servings of vegetables.

Turn Your Tailgate UP

28 Oct

Turn Your Tailgate UP

Disclosure: I have a professional relationship with Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds and KIND Snacks; however, this post is not sponsored by them.

Football season is in full swing – and that means tailgating food is in high demand.

According to one survey, when it comes to tailgating food:

  • 42% of tailgaters spend more than $500 a season on food and supplies
  • 95% of tailgaters prepare their food at the stadium
  • And good old-fashioned math tells us that a 13-ounce bag of Doritos has 1,820 calories

If you’re hosting a parking lot party or just game-watching at home, chances are you are filling up on not-so-good-for-you foods.

But I have 2 top picks this season to help fix your football food fails!



  • I love working with KIND snacks because their products include real ingredients like premium nuts, whole grains and seeds
  • The KIND Nuts & Spices line has 50% less sugar compared to the average snack bar
  • Whereas your typical slab bar can have 20-30 g sugar per bar, KIND Nuts & Spices has just 5-6 grams per bar
  • There are no artificial sweeteners and the sugar in these bars comes from dried fruit and honey

Check out KIND’s Nuts & Spices and all of their bars at the KIND online store.


Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 4.54.04 PM

  • Pistachios make a great go-to snack for any football watching party. They’re a good source of protein and fiber and come packed with good fats. In fact, almost 90% of the fats in pistachios are the healthy, unsaturated type.
  • I love pistachios because they are one of the lowest-fat, lowest-calorie snack nuts. In-shell pistachios can keep your hands busy during those nerve-wracking parts of the game – and the leftover shells provide a visual due for portion sizing.
  • Pistachios are delicious on their own, roasted and salted – or try them in other delectable flavors like sweet chili and salt and pepper.
  • A serving size of pistachios is 49 pistachios, which provides 160 calories and 3 grams of fiber; 49 pistachios works out to 1/2 cup of pistachios in shell or 1/4 cup shelled

You can learn more at

For more healthier twists on football tailgating, check out my segment on KRON4 San Francisco this week.