3 Ways to Use Beets

We’ve taken one of the season’s favorite and healthiest veggies — antioxidant-rich beets — beyond the boiled beets Grandma used to make. Check out three new ways to get your daily dose of beets in an easy yogurt-and-granola parfait, veggie burger and main-course salad — breakfast, lunch and dinner are served!

Beet-Yogurt Granola Parfait
Makes: 4

1 cup gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
5 tablespoons well-stirred creamy almond butter
4 cups plain Greek yogurt
4 cups finely chopped cooked beets
Honey, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the middle and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together the oats, pumpkin seeds, flax seed meal, cinnamon and salt.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the maple syrup and almond butter. Add to the oat mixture; toss to coat. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet; bake, stirring about every 15 minutes, until toasted and almost dry, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the parfaits, fill four glasses or parfait bowls with half of the yogurt. Top each with some of the granola, some of the beets, a little more granola and a drizzle of honey. Top with the remaining yogurt and beets.

Per serving: Calories 300; Fat 13 g (Saturated 1 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 132 mg; Carbohydrate 40 g; Fiber 6 g; Sugars 18 g; Protein 9 g

Beet-Walnut Veggie Burger
Makes: 8

1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 cup finely shredded raw beets
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup finely crushed unsweetened rice cereal
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Gluten-free English muffin, toasted, for serving (optional)
Romaine lettuce, for serving
Avocado, sliced, for serving
Tomato, sliced, for serving

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, cabbage, beets, quinoa, cereal, walnuts, onion, olive oil, vinegar, eggs, cilantro, salt and pepper; refrigerate for 30 minutes and shape into 8 burgers.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the burgers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and heated through, about 25 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 385; Fat 12 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 47 mg; Sodium 411 mg; Carbohydrate 63 g; Fiber 8 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 8 g

Buckwheat Salad with Shaved Beets, Roasted Poblanos and Avocado Dressing
Serves: 6

4 poblano peppers, stemmed and cored
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 cup buckwheat groats, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, quartered
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Raw red beets, thinly sliced
Crumbled feta cheese, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil over the peppers and roast until the skins are blistered and the peppers soft, about 1 hour. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into strips.

In a medium saucepan, bring the buckwheat and broth to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until tender and the broth is absorbed, about 10 minutes; rinse well with cold water. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a blender, blend together the avocado, cilantro, parsley, garlic, yogurt, water, lime, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth; refrigerate. To serve, divide the buckwheat among bowls, top with the roasted poblano peppers, beets and feta; drizzle with avocado dressing.

Per serving: Calories 414; Fat 5 g (Saturated 0.3 g); Cholesterol 0.8 mg; Sodium 67 mg; Carbohydrate 86 g; Fiber 12 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 16 g

Silvana Nardone is the author of Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed.

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Instant Foods: Are They Good for You?

In this fast-paced world, we want things quick and easy. Food manufacturers have responded to these needs and over the years have developed foods that are ready in an instant. However, these foods are not healthy for you — or are they? Find out.

Ramen Noodles

These cups of noodles were popular when I was in college back in the 1990s, but aren’t losing any steam. Many folks stack up on them for a quick and easy snack or meal, but in reality these noodle cups are basically salt and fried noodles.

Verdict: Eat sparingly.

Instant Rice

Here is a comparison of the nutrients in 2/3 cup of instant versus regular brown rice:

  • Instant: 150 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 2 percent of the recommended daily value of iron and 0 percent of the recommended daily value of calcium.
  • Regular: 143 calories, 1 gram of fat, 30 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 5 percent of the recommended daily value for iron and 2 percent of the recommended daily value for calcium.

Instant rice is parboiled and then packaged so you can prepare it in about 5 minutes. Parboiled (aka converted) rice is treated when the rice is harvested and still in the hull. It is soaked, steamed and then dried. The result is a transparent-looking grain that is less sticky. Instant does have a few more calories and a touch less fiber than regular brown rice.

Verdict: If plain, instant brown rice is a reasonable substitute for regular brown rice. (It will also save you time.) Just make sure it doesn’t have any flavor or sodium added.

Hot Cocoa

The first ingredient in most instant cocoa mixtures is sugar. These instant mixes are also filled with a laundry list of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients. Some food companies fortify their cocoa mixes with calcium, about 30 percent of the recommended daily value per serving. However, one glass of cow’s milk also contains about 30 percent of the daily value for calcium, which is all your body can really absorb in one sitting.

Verdict: Skip it.

Quick-Cooking Oatmeal

Instant oats are more processed than old-fashioned and steel-cut oats. They are precooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed thinner than rolled oats. They cook quicker than old-fashioned (or rolled) oats and steel-cut (or Irish) oats. Instant oats are the most processed of all the three types of oats and don’t have as much texture as the other two. Some folks complain that instant oats taste mushy.
The problem arises when instant oats are mixed with flavors and sugar in breakfast cups. You’re better off choosing a plain variety and topping it with fruits for sweetness.

Verdict: Choose old-fashioned and steel-cut oats more often, but instant oats can be part of a healthy eating plan and are better than many other breakfast options.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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Don’t Be Fooled by These Healthy Impostors

A recent news story revealed that many brands of grated Parmesan cheese contain wood-pulp fillers. This may seem like an isolated occurrence, but there are more food faux pas to be looking out for. Don’t be fooled by these six seemingly good-for-you foods.

Fruit Snacks
They might sound like a good choice for your little ones, but there’s no real fruit going on in these teeth-destroying chewy bits. They are made from a mix of sugar, juice concentrate, thickeners, colorings and flavorings.

Microwave Breakfast Sandwiches
They’re promoted as a healthy and fast way to start your day, but these boxed sammies are filled with sodium, fat, sugar and a bunch of other junk, including trans fats and azodicarbonamide (yes, that additive used in tires and yoga mats). Munch on one of these for breakfast and you’ll be taking in nearly 30 percent of the daily recommendation for sodium.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
You might think this stuff tastes too good to be healthy … and you’d be 100 percent correct. Even though it’s advertised as Mom’s healthy breakfast staple, with more than 10 grams of sugar per tablespoon, chocolate-hazelnut spread should be treated as a treat!

Multigrain Anything
The more grain the better, right? The word “multigrain” may imply a plethora of grains, but most are not whole grains, and that’s where all the nutrients are. Check ingredient lists on breads and cereals marked with this title and make sure there are actually whole grains in there.

Fat-Free Cheese
You can’t have cheese without fat. Period. Slices of nonfat processed cheese contain an impressively long list of additives and fillers to achieve a rubbery and somewhat cheeselike texture. Pass on this impostor and stick to the real thing.

Pancake Syrup
You may have grown up with a sweet face smiling back at you from the syrup bottle at the breakfast table, but it’s called “pancake syrup” because there’s no maple to be found in it. This syrup is just a gooey mixture of corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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Single-Serve Hot Cereal Roundup

The hottest thing in the cereal aisle is single-serve cups of hot cereal. It’s an easy way to eat cereal first thing in the morning without worrying about dishes, or an easy snack to tote to work. Here is an overview of hot cereal cups you may come across at a market near you.

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Cups

Quaker, known for its oatmeal, makes a variety of instant oatmeal cups, including Apples & Cranberries, Honey & Almonds and Cinnamon Pecan. Some of the cups contain 50 percent less sugar less than their original version and use stevia for some sweetness. The Apples & Cranberries instant oatmeal cup contains 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar. The ingredient list contains a laundry list of ingredients, including whey protein isolate and maltodextrin, plus a variety of added B vitamins and iron.

Love Grown Foods Hot Oats

There are four flavors of oat cups made by Love Grown, including Blueberry Banana Walnut, Peach Vanilla Almond, Strawberry Raspberry and Apple Cinnamon. The cups are made with gluten-free oats and are certified gluten-free and Non-GMO Project verified. The Apple Cinnamon oat cup contains 5 ingredients with 230 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of sugar. All the oat cups can also be made into muffins, the simple recipe is right on the container.

Nature Valley Protein Oatmeal

Nature Valley offers four flavors of oatmeal in a cup, including Maple Pecan Crunch, Mixed Berry Crunch, Toasted Coconut Almond Crunch and Cranberry Apple Crunch. These cups are marketed as being a good source of protein, with 10 grams of protein per cup, which comes from whey and soy protein isolate. The Maple Pecan Crunch contains 290 calories, 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar. The list of ingredients is shorter than Quaker’s, but still could be cleaner.

Special K Hot Cereal

Special K offers four flavors of hot cereal, including Cinnamon Raisin Pecan, Cranberry Almond, Honey Nut Crunch and Maple Brown Sugar. The cereals are made from a multigrain blend that contains quinoa (which is a whole grain) mixed with other grains (which aren’t necessarily whole). The Cinnamon Raisin Pecan hot cereal contains 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar. Although these contain slightly less sugar than other brands, there is a very long list of ingredients and nutrients that have been added into the cups.

Kashi Overnight Muesli

Kashi recently released three flavors of overnight muesli, including Cacao Nib Almond & Coconut, Cherry Cinnamon & Cardamom and Sunflower Pepita. The ingredient lists are not very long and include whole oats, whole rye, whole barley, chia seeds, almonds and flax seeds. One cup of the Cherry Cinnamon & Cardamom contains 220 calories, 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 9 grams of sugar. This beats most brands on the amount of fiber and is lowest in sugar too. These cups need to be filled with your favorite milk the night before and left in the fridge so you can enjoy them first thing in the morning.

Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cup

You can find four varieties of gluten-free oatmeal cups offered by Bob’s Red Mill, including Apple Cinnamon, Brown Sugar & Maple, Classic, and Blueberry Hazelnut. The ingredient list is short, and the ingredients are recognizable. A cup of Blueberry Hazelnut contains 290 calories, 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein. The Classic cup has nothing added, which leaves it up to you to dress your oatmeal however your palate desires.



Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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Healthy Deviled Eggs, 3 Ways

Spring is in the air! And with Easter just around the corner, I could think of no better way to celebrate than gathering around a picnic table with loved ones to enjoy this warm shift in the weather (hopefully here to stay) and, of course, delicious food. For me, deviled eggs are synonymous with Easter. A deviled egg is the perfect finger food, not only nutritious and delicious but very versatile in regard to the filling. Not to mention, something tells me you’re going to have some extra hard-boiled eggs hanging out in the fridge. The classic version with yellow mustard and mayonnaise is sure to be a hit — but fill the eggs with barbecue sauce, hummus or mango guacamole and just wait to see the excitement and joy in people’s faces.

While the filling options may be tantalizing, the key to making the best deviled eggs is to start with perfectly hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel. Here are some tips I learned through experimentation:

  • Avoid using super-fresh eggs. If you purchase eggs at the store, then chances are they are ready for immediate use. If you purchase them directly from a farmer, though, wait at least a week before using.
  • Start with hot water rather than cold water. All the recommendations I read stated that I should start with cold water, bring it to a boil, then cook the eggs for a certain amount of time. It’s true that this method produces more evenly cooked eggs, but starting with hot water results in eggs that are much easier to peel, which is very important for deviled eggs; pristine egg whites are much prettier on the eyes.
  • Once the eggs are cooked, place them in an ice bath. This also helps with peeling.

Here I’ve made three different fillings, which you can whip up in minutes and evenly distribute amongst a half-dozen eggs. You can easily double or triple the recipe as needed.

How to Boil Eggs

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Carefully lower the eggs into the water (I use a wire colander or a ladle).

Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Drop the eggs into the prepared ice bath.

Once the eggs have cooled, tap the shells against a hard surface and peel under running water.

Mango Guacamole (for 2 egg halves)

1 egg yolk, mashed
1/2 avocado, mashed
3 tablespoons diced mango
2 teaspoons diced red onion
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of chili powder

Per 1 egg half: Calories 41; Fat 1 g (Saturated 0 g); Sodium 56 mg; Carbohydrate 4 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 4 g

Hummus (for 2 egg halves)

3 tablespoons hummus, any flavor (I used eggplant hummus, but beet hummus is really good too!)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
A dash of paprika
Pine nuts

Per 1 egg half: Calories 63; Fat 3 g (Saturated 0 g); Sodium 138 mg; Carbohydrate 4 g; Sugars 0 g; Protein 6 g

BBQ (for 2 egg halves)

2 egg yolks, mashed
1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
A dash of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Per 1 egg half: Calories 84; Fat 5 g (Saturated 0 g); Sodium 123 mg; Carbohydrate 3 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 8 g


In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of the filling into the egg halves. Sprinkle with seasoning.

Min Kwon, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who specializes in food sensitivities. She has a passion for translating the science of nutrition into real-life, applicable advice and tips. In her healthy food blog, The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman, she focuses on sharing simple yet healthy recipes made from wholesome, REAL foods.

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Food Fight: Almond Milk vs. Cashew Milk

The varieties of dairy-free milk alternatives continue to expand, and the newest kid on the shelf is cashew milk. Find out how this nutty beverage stacks up against its almond-containing counterpart.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is made from a blend of almonds and water. Solid pulp is removed, and ingredients, including locust bean gum and salt, are added to thicken, enhance flavor and maintain freshness. It has a creamy texture and distinct nutty essence.

One cup of unsweetened almond milk contains 30 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and 1 gram each of protein, carbohydrate and fiber. Each cup contains 160 milligrams of sodium, whereas a glass of cow’s milk has 125 milligrams. Some brands are fortified with additional nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D, but it’s worth checking labels, since some have significantly less than others. There are also numerous flavors of sweetened almond milk, but the calories can jump to 90 for the same 1 cup, thanks to the added sugar.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is made in same fashion as almond milk, with similar flavor and thickening agents; we came across one brand that contained some almond butter! Cashew milk also has a thick and creamy texture but an earthier flavor than almond milk.

One cup of unsweetened cashew milk contains 25 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber, and 1 gram each of protein and carbohydrate. Many brands are also fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and are available in higher-calorie sweetened flavors.

Winner: Draw! It comes down to a flavor preference in this case. Choose unsweetened nut milk and you can’t go wrong.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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News Feed: Big Breakfast News, Vegan Nutrition, Dieting Done Differently

Starting the Day Right

It’s a big week for breakfast news: A new study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, found that middle-school students who ate no breakfast or ate it only occasionally had double the risk of obesity as those who ate breakfast regularly. But students who ate “double-breakfast” — first at home and then at school — did not seem to be at any greater risk for obesity as those who ate only one breakfast, either at home or school. “It seems it’s a bigger problem to have kids skipping breakfast than to have these kids eating two breakfasts,” concluded study co-author Marlene Schwartz, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Meanwhile, the Deseret News weighed whether cereal, the sales of which have declined in recent years, is a breakfast food worth rescuing, and Time offered an eye-opening look at 10 healthy breakfast options enjoyed in countries around the world.

Vegan Diets Under the Microscope

Following a vegan diet — eschewing not only meat, but also eggs, dairy and other animal products — may be healthy, but new research conducted at the University of East Finland indicates that, in many cases, vegans may not be getting enough protein, berries, fruits and nuts in their diets and may rely more on fortified foods and supplements than non-vegans. “In order to ensure the intake of all the necessary nutrients, vegetarian and vegan diets need to be composed in a well-rounded manner,” the researchers noted, adding that vegans should make a point of eating foods and taking additional supplements that can fill in their nutritional gaps.

DIY Dieting

Are commercial diets worth the cost? More and more Americans are deciding the answer is no and taking their weight-loss efforts into their own hands, attempting to lose weight by simply taking a healthier approach to eating and exercising: eating less and moving more. According to a recent report by the market-research company Mintel, cited by Yahoo, 94 percent of those surveyed said they no longer consider themselves “dieters”; 77 percent of respondents said they didn’t think diets, which can get pricey, were as healthy as they may appear. “Consumers are somewhat skeptical about diet products, and instead of purchasing traditional diet-specific products, they are turning to a well-balanced diet and products that support it,” the researchers concluded.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

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