You Can Eat the Skin of a Kiwi fruit?!

YES! You read that correctly, you can, in fact, eat the skin of a kiwi fruit!

As a busy working mother of three, I am always looking for ways to save time, mess and increase nutrition. I came across this tidbit of information a few years ago from one of my store tour customers while walking through the produce section. I was in the middle of describing how to quickly eat a kiwi by slicing it in half and scooping out the fruit, when he excitedly interrupted me by saying:

“You know, you can save some time by just eating the skin.”.

Wait, what?!?!? I was flabbergasted. And anyone that knows me, knows that doesn’t happen easily. Like most people, the thought of eating a kiwi skin hadn’t even crossed my mind. I mean, have you seen the fuzz on a kiwi? Kiwi fruit

But lo and behold, I tried it and it changed my life! Kiwifruit has always been that fruit that I only buy if I am making fruit pizza. Because to peel a kiwi and cut it up can be a nuisance. Even with the cut and scoop method, I still hesitated to buy kiwi. But not anymore!


If you know me, you know that one of my favorite hashtags is #efficientnotlazy. After all, I am a busy, working mother of three. I’m willing to do the work when necessary, but will take any shortcuts that I can get. So, to eat a kiwi for maximum time savings and nutrition, simply cut the ends off, and cut into 4-6 pieces. You can can eat it plain, add to a fruit salad, or even to your next cup of yogurt. It doesn’t matter, just give it a try. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised!


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Chipotle Popcorn + Nutritional Yeast

We have had the bulk oils in our Hy-Vee HealthMarket for awhile, but I am just now getting around to really testing them out. First up is the chipotle pepper-infused oil. I’m a huge fan of smokey little chipotle peppers, so naturally this was the first on my list. The description of the oil says that it is delicious on popcorn, and I was feeling a little “snacky”, so I decided to give it a try.

Ingredients for Chipotle-Infused Popcorn

Ingredients for Chipotle-Infused Popcorn

Another product that I have been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to is nutritional yeast. These little guys are a staple in most vegan’s diets because of the vitamin B12 content. But it’s the flavor-enhancement that I was most curious about. Nutritional yeast flavor has been described as cheesy, nutty, savory, and “umami.” Just a tablespoon or two can add richness to soups, gravies, and other dishes, and larger amounts can make “cheese” sauces and eggless scrambles taste cheesy and eggy.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. Because it’s inactive, it doesn’t froth or grow like baking yeast does so it has no leavening ability. —But enough of the nerdy details, lets get to the good part…

To make this irresistable snack, we air pop a big bowl of steamy popcorn.


Drizzle with the pepper-infused oil and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and sea salt.

Chipotle pepper-infused oil

Chipotle pepper-infused oil

Once you have it popped and sufficiently seasoned, grab a couple morsels and enjoy! – Even the little hand of our house can’t stay away!


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Trade Up: Tips to boost your summer nutrition

This post was first featured on the Dairy Makes Sense blog in July of 2015. 

Summer time is here and reading scores aren’t the only things that tend to slip during our vacation-filled months. Nutritious decisions tend to fly out the window when the temperatures soar and the grill fires up. Making great choices doesn’t have to mean hours of prep or staying behind to cook supper while everyone else enjoys the lake.

Eggs 2 LowRes

Try these simple trade-ups to keep you fueled and going all summer long.

1. Think grabbing a granola bar as you walk out the door is a great way to start your day? You are likely missing important protein to keep you satisfied and going strong. Try a protein-packed egg muffin. Mix together eggs, milk, cheese, meat and vegetables. Pour into a greased muffin tin and bake. The best part? They can be frozen then reheated in just minutes!

2. If snack time consists of a bag of chips or candy, why not try cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes (or peaches). The combination of protein and quality carbohydrates keeps blood sugars level, and helps to stave off hunger.

3. Beat the heat and cravings for sweets by making your own popsicles. Mix milk or yogurt with fresh, sliced fruit and freeze in a popsicle container. Don’t have a popsicle container? Use ice cube trays and toothpicks! These frozen treats are the perfect way to use up extra yogurt, milk and fruit. Let your imagination guide you.

4. Don’t rely on the drive thru for your summertime meals. Keep it simple by grabbing a packaged salad blend and topping with your favorite protein (chicken, tuna, salmon, or hardboiled eggs), veggies and shredded cheese. Add a yogurt or glass of icy, cold milk to provide you with a boost of essential vitamins and minerals and a hydrating kick!

Trading up your food choices throughout the day will help you stay on track and feel your best to beat the summer heat.

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Diet Swaps That Don’t Pay Off

When it comes to eating healthfully, there are certain concessions and modifications that just make sense. Not eating toaster pastries for breakfast, trading in white for whole grain, or limiting daiquiris to once a year on vacation, just to name a few.

But as we frequently see in the nutrition world, there is plenty of misinformation and lots of misconceptions that can leave us feeling like we should give up far more than we really need to. And too often we’re making changes and sacrifices that just don’t matter — and we end up feeling deprived and discouraged as a result.

To help you avoid some of the common nutritional pitfalls, here are 10 swaps and trade-outs that just aren’t worth it.

  1. ‘Regular’ chicken to hormone-free chicken. It is illegal to ever give chickens hormones, whether conventionally raised or organic.
  2. Peanut butter to reduced-fat peanut butter. Most brands of reduced-fat peanut butter still have about 190 calories per two-tablespoon serving, the same that you’ll find in regular peanut butter. And reduced-fat peanut butter often has double the carbs, thanks to added corn syrup and sugar.   Peanut butter
  3. Chocolate to sugar-free chocolate. Even if you don’t mind the texture and taste of sugar-free chocolate, you’re really not getting a significant savings in terms of calories and carbs.
  4. Eggs to egg whites only. Cutting back on the number of yolks will help to shave a few calories, but my preference is to leave in the yolks. Not only does it help with appearance, flavor, and texture, the fat also helps to keep us feel full for longer. Egg yolks are one of the top food sources of choline, a nutrient that plays a key role in fat metabolism as well as brain development and function.  eggs with yolk
  5. Ground beef to ground turkey. If the label just says ground turkey, you’re probably getting dark meat and fat, not just turkey breast. Extra-lean 95 percent lean ground beef has about the same calories and fat as ground turkey.
  6. French fries to sweet potato fries. Ounce for ounce, the calories, carbs, and fat are about the same.
  7. Cheese to fat-free cheese. The numbers can quickly add up when it comes to full-fat cheese, with about 80 to 110 calories per ounce. But (in my opinion) fat-free cheese isn’t the answer. With add-ins that you don’t find in regular cheese (such as corn syrup solids and modified food starch), most varieties of fat-free cheese have more carbs than protein, not to mention that the meltability factor is practically nonexistent.   fat free cheese
  8. Pork bacon to turkey bacon. Bacon is synonymous with decadence and indulgence, but it’s actually not as high in calories or saturated fat as you would think. There’s not a huge difference between center-cut pork bacon and turkey bacon. The key is it to keep portions in check, which means using bacon to accompany or enhance a dish, not to serve as the main attraction. And be sure to look for uncured bacon without added nitrates or nitrites (these compounds are linked to heart disease and certain types of cancer).
  9. Sugar to agave (or coconut palm sugar or vegan cane sugar or honey). Even though they’re less processed and lower-glycemic than plain old white sugar (meaning they cause less of a spike in blood sugar), for those watching calories and trying to keep weight in check, these sugar swaps aren’t any lower in calories than ordinary white sugar.   Agave
  10. Sandwiches to wraps. No matter how much we try, the perception of a wrap as a ‘health’ food still prevails. Sure, there are low-carb, lower-calorie tortilla-sized wraps that are fabulous, nutritionally speaking, but we’re talking about those burrito-sized wraps at restaurants, the ones that are so ginormous the ends are flapped over and tucked in on each side. The wrap alone (before a single ingredient is rolled into it) typically has 240 to 300 calories, with the carb-equivalent of five slices of bread. So unless you’re making your own wrap at home and you’ve got one of the lower-carb tortillas, you’re almost always better off foregoing the wrap and instead ordering your sandwich on whole grain bread (or even better, in a lettuce wrap).
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Top 9 Ways to add Beans to your Diet

When it comes to health and affordable super foods — beans top the list. Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber (about 8 grams per half cup), protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer and helps with weight management. Beans are hearty, helping you feel full so you tend to eat less. As we get older, we need fewer calories, and beans are a great way to boost the nutrition of your meal without boosting the calories. A half cup of beans has only about 100 calories.

Black-eyed Peas

Black-eyed Peas

Beans and lentils are available dried and those do need to be cooked or soaked, so you’ll need to plan ahead a bit. But canned beans — buy low salt or rinse them well — or frozen are just as nutritious and can make eating beans a lot easier. Start with the ones you know and like and eventually try some different ones and in different recipes.

Black Beluga Lentils

Black Beluga Lentils

Ideas for adding beans into your diet:

  • Add beans to your tacos or replace the meat with beans or lentils.Try this family-favorite Lentil Taco recipe.
  • Add your black beans to lettuce salads.
  • Put black beans or refried beans with cheese and salsa into a tortilla and microwave for a few seconds for a quick snack or meal.
  • Make a cold bean salad – add cut up tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions to a can of drained and rinsed white beans. Add a bit of olive oil, vinegar and pepper. Eat chilled. Or try this Spiced Lentil Salad.
  • Make a bean salsa — eat with whole grain corn tortilla chips for a healthy snack or add as a topping on cooked fish or chicken.
  • Snack on veggies dipped in hummus (pureed garbanzo beans with garlic and oil)
  • Use beans as your protein source — beans and whole grain pasta or brown rice with a mixture of sautéed veggies and garlic works great as a skillet meal that is packed with protein and fiber.
  • Add beans to soups wherever possible — this is quick and easy.
  • Snack on edamame — these are immature soybeans. They are green and usually come frozen. The ones that are de-shelled (no pods) are easy and yummy. Just pop them in your mouth as is.
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Full-Fat Yogurt: Have you tried it?

Move over fat-free, high-sugar yogurt. There’s a new kid in town!

I was pumped to see these new Siggi’s full-fat yogurts hit our shelves recently, and was intrigued by the Strawberry & Rhubarb flavor. Siggi’s is one of my favorite yogurt brands for both taste and nutrition. I mean, they use real Madagascar vanilla that you can actually see!

The ingredient list is simple and not overloaded with sugars. Each serving contains only 8 grams of sugar (compared to some brands that can contain up to 30+ grams), 5 grams of fat (full-fat doesn’t necessarily mean “full of fat”), and 10 grams protein.

Check out the 5 strains of healthy gut bacteria!


My favorite flavors are the Strawberry & Rhubarb (what Midwest girl wouldn’t love this flavor combination?) and the Vanilla (especially with fresh berries).

Siggi's whole-milk Vanilla yogurt with fresh blueberries

Siggi’s whole-milk Vanilla yogurt with fresh blueberries

I am happy that the trend in food products lately has been moving towards more full-fat products. For so long, we have been afraid of fat because we thought that “fat makes us fat”. The truth behind that is an excess of any calorie leads to weight gain. But fat has a very important function in our diets. It provides a feeling of satisfaction (have you ever eaten a salad with fat-free salad dressing and just not felt satisfied or “done” with your meal?), helps regulate blood sugars (by slowing down how quickly your body breaks down carbohydrates), and makes it possible to use a variety of nutrients (vitamins A, E, D and K).

*Note, this isn’t an endorsement to go hog-wild and douse all of your food in fats and oils, but it is permission to enjoy more natural sources of fats in moderation!


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Simple Summer Salad with Saladena

I’m always looking for new, delicious and SIMPLE salads. So when I came across these adorably packages Saladena cheese toppers, I got excited.

There’s a blue cheese (with cranberries, orange peels and pumpkin seeds) and a feta (with candied lemon peel, apricots and pumpkin seeds).  It is the perfect blend and a simple solution to my salad dilemma.

All I do with these babies is take some greens (your favorite will work great), top with the cheese toppers, and your favorite dressing.

Today I shook up a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon stoneground mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt-and-pepper to taste
Combine ingredients into a small lidded jar. Shake vigorously until well combined.

Keep this dressing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks 

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