Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Food in Cali

I just returned from my second to last trip of this very busy summer. Mr. Patton and I have been out of town nearly every weekend since the beginning of June (and two additional weeks in between). It's been so much fun, but also exhausting trying to stay caught up at home. We've learned there's a lot of truth to the phrase, "there's no place like home," but we have had some really fun adventures!

Last week, we were in gorgeous California. We started in Anaheim and drove down the coast, visiting Huntington Beach, driving through Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and spending the day in La Jolla. In San Diego, we played the night away in the Gas Lamp district, basked in the sun and surfed on Coronado Island, and dined in Little Italy. Needless to say, San Diego has become one of my favorite cities for the fun and entertainment, as well as for the Good Food. That's one of my favorite parts of traveling to new places too, of course. The food.

I love trying new and interesting dishes. Mr. Patton isn't quite as adventurous, but we ended up at some great places. It was very difficult to choose and there are many more I'd love to hit up next time we go...whenever that may be. Thought I'd share a few photos:

Brockton Villa in La Jolla: Portobella Sandwich with roasted red peppers, goat cheese and avocado. I also had their "Epic (seafood) Chowder." All enjoyed from the deck overlooking the cliffs and ocean in La Jolla. Couldn't have been a more perfect lunch.

La Jolla

Duke's Huntington Beach: Seven Spice Ahi Tuna with papaya hot mustard, pickled bok choy and jasmine rice. We were also able to enjoy the ocean view here right above the pier overlooking the beach. The servers were super friendly and really knew their stuff!

Huntington Beach

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza: Brie and Mushroom Pizza with Truffle Oil (on the most flaky and delicious crust I've ever tasted). Oh yeah. This one made my top pizza list for sure along with some St. Louis faves (in case you're wondering...Pi, Adamo's, Fortel's and Dewey's). City dining at its finest, right in the heart of the Gas Lamp district. Yes, dietitians have their splurges too :)

Last but not least, I was not able to snap a decent photo of the delicious Sea Bass (my favorite) with Bay Scallops over Pasta Marinara I enjoyed at Buon Appetito in Little Italy.

It seems like every city creates its own unique dining experience. That's why I look forward to it so much! Where have you dined lately?

Monday, August 20, 2012

GF Taste Project: Justin's Maple Almond Butter

This delicious nut butter was the next sample up in my ongoing gluten-free taste-testing project. I received my sample compliments of GFree Connect, in one of their care packs. {If you follow a gluten free diet and haven't checked them out yet, click here. Their care packs are awesome!}

One taste of Justin's Maple Almond Butter was all I needed to fall in love. It had the raw, slightly grainy taste of a natural nut butter, which I love, thanks to the fact that it contains no hydrogenated oils. The palm oil, used in many products in lieu of trans-fat creating hydrogenated oils, adds minimal saturated fat. What makes Justin's Butter unique is the addition of just a touch of maple sugar, which lends the almond butter a slightly sweet taste. Just enough. And that's about it! This all-natural nut butter contains just four simple ingredients: dry roasted almonds, maple sugar, organic palm fruit oil and sea salt.

I love Justin's Maple Almond Butter as an alternative to peanut butter. It's great to mix things up now and then, right? I tried it this morning on my whole wheat waffle and here are some other ways I'll use it:

  • On a whole wheat bagel
  • On a sandwich with blackberry preserves
  • On a sliced apple
  • With celery sticks.

And I'll be looking forward to trying the other flavors too!

Justin's Nut Butters are available at Whole Foods and in the GoodFood store. They come packed in conventional jars or awesome portable, single-serving packs (as shown in the picture). That means they're great for travel, snacks or lunches-on-the-go. Plus the packaging is just so cute :)

The Maple Almond Butter is certified gluten free and dairy free. It's a no-go if you have severe peanut allergies, though, because the product could contain traces of peanuts.

Nutrition Facts (per pack; about 1 Tablespoon): Calories 90 | Total Fat 7g | Saturated Fat 1g | Sodium 30mg | Total Carb 3g | Fiber 1g | Sugars 1g | Protein 3g.

Find out more about Justin's Nut Butters here.

One of the perks of my job is receiving complementary samples of products or compensation for passing along my expert opinion as a Registered Dietitian. Please be assured that my opinion is my own and my review is not guaranteed to be positive solely because I have received compensation. I'm here to help you--the consumer--sort through the vast amounts of nutrition information available to find legitimate answers. This is my primary goal in providing product reviews and sponsored contests on my blog.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brain Food Part 2: Breakfasts of Champions

In Brain Food Part 1, I encouraged planning ahead for quick and healthy breakfasts to start off your day (and the school year) on the right foot. Go back to this post to read more about criteria for builidng a healthy breakfast and some tips to get the whole family on board. I also promised 10 healthy breakfast ideas to get you started. Here they are! Portion sizes should be adjusted depending on the age of your child. If you're not sure what portion size is the right size, start with MyPlate or contact your dietitian.

Breakfasts of champions:
Breakfast #2 with Strawberries
  1. Whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced banana, served with a glass of milk.
  2. Bowl of whole grain cereal (like Cheerios or Wheaties) topped with blueberries, walnuts and milk.
  3. Whole wheat pancake topped with sliced strawberries, walnuts and a drizzle of syrup, served with milk.
  4. Yogurt layered with strawberries, blueberries, low-fat granola and slivered almonds.
  5. Sliced apples served with yogurt for dipping and a side of whole wheat toast with butter.
  6. Small whole wheat bagel with cream cheese served with milk and strawberries.
  7. Oatmeal topped with raisins, walnuts and cinnamon, served with milk.
  8. Slice of whole wheat toast with whole fruit jam, egg (boiled or scrambled) and a glass of milk.
  9. Whole wheat waffle topped with peanut butter, sliced banana and a drizzle of syrup, served with a glass of milk.
  10. Whole wheat toast topped with melted cheddar cheese, served with sliced apples and a glass of milk.
Click here for a printable copy of these breakfast ideas, brought to you by RDbyyourside.

Do you have any quick and healthy breakfast ideas to share? Leave your comments below!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brain Food: Powerful Back to School Breakfasts

Brain food. That's what my mom always called breakfast. She was right! Breakfast is super important because it gets your systems going. It revs up the metabolism, aids in weight management, improves focus and is also a potentially terrific source of nutrients.

The morning may also be one of the most hectic times of the day, especially if you're trying to get the kids out the door for school and you're trying to get yourself to work on time too. There are two keys to successful breafast regimens:
  1. It's quick.
  2. You've planned ahead.
Sounds easy enough, right? It is as long as you've got your game plan. Start the school year off on the right foot by forming this habit right from the start. Even if you don't have children, these ideas will serve you well too.

1. Breakfast is not optional. Discuss the breakfast plan with the whole family and get everyone on board.

2. Put together breakfast meal options as a family. I like the index card system:
  • Sit down together on a weekend and brainstorm different breakfast meals.
  • Write each meal on a separate index card and store them in a box.
  • Try to come up with at least 10 different options (that's 2 weeks full of different breakfasts). 
  • Requirements: Each meal must include some type of whole grain(s), a fruit, a dairy and a healthy fat or protein.
  • Example: Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, banana sliced on top, glass of milk. Done. (P.S. This is a great activity to do with the kids to help them learn about the different food groups and how to build a balanced meal. See the MyPlate website for more information).

3. Before each school week, take a few minutes as a family to select the breakfasts for the week. Pull out 5 index cards; one for each school day. Everyone should have a say in which items make the list. If you have two children, each child could select two breakfasts and mom could select one.

4. Use the meals you've selected to plan your grocery list and make sure you have all the necessary groceries on hand.

5. Prepare anything you can in advance. For example, wash or slice fruit ahead of time and store it in a container in the fridge. Make extra whole wheat pancakes on the weekend and store leftovers for the next school week. Hard boil eggs and store them in the fridge.

Try coming up with some breakfast ideas of your own and watch for Brain Food Part 2, coming this Friday. Hint: I'll be posting a list of 10 Back to School Breakfast Ideas!

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Fall Project: A Fall Garden (And How To Plant Vegetable Seeds)

I have dreams of being an expert gardener with a yard full of flowering and fruitful plants. As you know, I'm still working on it :) But out of this dream was born my next gardening project: a fall garden started from seeds. I've never planted vegetable seeds before and I'm a little nervous about it, especially since my summer garden hasn't fared so well. The only thing that makes me feel better is that I'm getting the same report from many other St. Louisans this year. So maybe it's the weather and not all me... Either way, I'm really sad that we have a very sparse harvest.

Hopefully fall will bring more bounty! I'm planting 2 types of lettuce, spinach, kale, cauliflower and radishes. (I wanted broccoli too, but the hardware store didn't have any.) By the way, in case you're more of a novice gardener than I, these are all cool-weather crops. They can't stand too much heat and will survive outside as the weather starts to cool.

I began this gardening adventure by starting some seeds indoors in this cute little tray. I hope to improve my gardening skill and also save money! Planting from seeds is much less expensive than buying plants. I'm considering this a practice round for next spring. Here they are just planted, last Monday night.

Many seeds had sprouted within 2 days! So last night (only one week later) I began the process of thinning the plants so only the best seedlings could continue to grow. Stay tuned to watch as I transplant them into the garden as the scorching heat of summer begins to dwindle to an end. And keep your fingers crossed!

Do you want to start a fall garden too? I may not be an expert at doing it yet, but I've got the instructions down pat. It's not too late if you're in the midwest or southern U.S. Here are basic instructions for planting vegetable seeds that you'll later sow into the garden.
  1. Purchase a seed-starting tray (greenhouse) or small pots that are 1-inch by 1-inch or 2-inches by 2-inches. There are many different products you can use at your local hardware store. I opted for the tray because it has a single base tray to catch drainage, several planting trays with 1x1 "cells" and a lid. You can put water in the base tray, then set the planting trays in it and the lid on top. Moisture is contained to keep the seeds at ideal temperature.
  2. Fill each pot 2/3 full with soil made especially for starting seeds. You must use clean soil.
  3. Sprinkle 4-6 seeds in each cell.
  4. Cover seeds with a thin layer of sand.
  5. Fill the base tray with water and set the planting tray in it or set each pot in a bowl of water so soil becomes moist. Do not water the pots from the top; this increases the risk of fungus growing on top of the soil.
  6. Cover the tray with it's cover or cover each pot with plastic wrap.
  7. When seedlings begin to sprout, remove plastic cover. Remove weak seedlings so that only 1 to 2 remain in each cell. Eventually only one seedling, the strongest one, should remain. 
  8. Keep seedlings indoors, under fluorescent lights for 14 to 16 hours per day. Water lightly every other day. 
  9. Before taking seedlings outside to plant, you must "harden them off," or get them used to being outside. Take them outside, out of direct sunlight and wind, for a few hours the first day. Bring them back in. Continue to take seedlings outside for longer each day for about a week.
  10. Plant them in the garden!

Lessons I've learned so far:
  • Only plant a few seeds (like 4-6) in each cell. I way overestimated, mostly because I was afraid they all wouldn't make it, and had about 20 to weed through in each little planting cell! Way too many. Way too much time. And I couldn't help but feel a little guilty purging most of them.
  • Definitely don't skip the step that entails covering the seeds with sand. This is recommended to keep the soil from becoming too moist, which breeds the growth of fungus. I didn't have sand. I skipped this step and used soil instead. In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, "Big Mistake. Huge." My plants got fungus. Plenty of seedlings grew, so I continued anyway and am hoping that it does not eventually kill all my plants. If so, I guess I'll have to try, try again!
For more information, check these two resources: Yardener and Better Homes and Gardens.

Friday, August 10, 2012

When You've Got Lemons...

Freeze them for later! Why didn't I think of this before? Duh. It could have saved me from something I really hate to do...throw out food. It pains me. And it doesn't happen often. Even though it disobeys almost every law of foodservice, I'm known for saying, "If it smells okay and isn't slimy, I'll eat it." (Please follow that advice at your own risk.) But I have to admit, which also pains me, that I have thrown away many a lemon or lime because they go bad before I can figure out what the heck to do with them. Until now!

Freezing lemons (or limes) is so easy. They don't require any special treatment.
  1. Slice off the ends.
  2. Slice the lemon in half lengthwise.
  3. Slice through each half creating 1/4 inch slices.
  4. Lay in a single layer in a freezer zip-top bag. Squeeze as much air out as you can before sealing.
  5. Freeze and pull out a lemon slice whenever you need it.
If you're saying "duh, Liz," I don't blame you. But if you feel enlightened too, then great! I'm pumped! I love to add these frozen lemons to water, sparkling water, wine spritzers and sangria. They're like a flavored ice cube. Thaw some first and you'll find how handy they are to have around for cooking, making salad dressing and squeezing onto salads too. Man--sometimes the simplest things are really great.

You can use your frozen lemon slices in one of my favorite summer beverages too. It's a lower calorie alcoholic indulgence that's super refreshing.

Citrus Wine Spritzer
  • 4 ounces red or white wine (I prefer shiraz or chardonnay)
  • 4 ounces sparkling water (use plain or experiment with different flavors. Lemon-lime is nice in chardonnay and raspberry is nice in shiraz.)
  • A few ice cubes
  • 1 lemon slice, squeezed
  • 1 lime slice, squeezed
This spritzer contains about 100 calories per 8-ounce serving (that's versus a 4-ounce serving if it's just wine).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Easy Way to Eat All Your Fruits and Veggies (And How Much You Need)

Fruits and vegetables make up a very important part of our diets. They provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber in addition to carbohydrate--our body's preferred source of fuel. I've found that many people find it difficult to eat the number of servings recommended in their meal plan. Here's how many servings we should be aiming for per day, based on calorie level:

Calorie Level
Vegetables (in cups)
Fruits (in cups)

*Your dietitian can calculate an appropriate calorie level for you to follow to meet your health goals.*

The key is planning ahead! Use these tips to make sure you hit your goal:
  • Make sure fruits and vegetables are planned into your daily menu at meals and snacks.
  • Make sure fruits and vegetables are on your shopping list.
  • Pick a day to chop and prepare fruits and vegetables you have purchased so they are easy to grab. Buy produce that is already prepared if you don't have the time to do it yourself.
  • Keep dried and frozen fruits on hand for when the fresh stuff runs out.
  • Keep frozen and low-sodium canned vegetables on hand. 
  • Try to include at least one vegetable with lunch and dinner.
  • Eat a fruit with breakfast and at at least one snack or for dessert.
  • Add a veggie to your afternoon snack to make it more filling. One of my faves is an apple, natural peanut butter and baby carrots.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables visible so you remember to eat them instead of something else.
  • Try to eat a variety of fruits and veggies so you don't get bored. By shopping for seasonal produce, you'll be eating the freshest, tastiest options and won't get stuck in a rut.
  • Maintain limited supplies of other snack foods. If there are fewer tempting options around, you're more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.
  • Got kids? Turn it into a game! Give your kids a sticker to add to the calendar or a "fruits and veggies" chart when they eat one serving. 
If you are packing a lunch and snacks for the day, try the following method. Fill a 4-5 cup container with the amount of fruits and vegetables you need to eat during the day. You'll know you have the right amount of produce and will be able to see when you've eaten enough! In the end, it will help ensure you've eaten all your servings of fruits and veggies. Make sure you select a variety (not all the same one) so that you're getting a variety of nutrients. If they can't share the same space, just pack them separately. Here's what I brought for my lunch and snacks the other day.

Beautiful, isn't it? Spring mix for my sandwich, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers for lunch, apple and carrots (they're under there) for afternoon snack with peanut butter. You're seeing these filling a 5 cup container. Great way to save those little zipper-top plastic baggies too! It might look like a lot of work, but I slice my peppers and cucumbers in advance (P.S. those cucumbers are from my garden!) and store them in a container in the fridge. When it's time to pack lunch--the night before--I just grab them. Cherry tomatoes and baby carrots are super easy because they require no prep. I purchase the spring mix in bulk at Sam's, so there's no prep there either. Shortcuts count :)

Give it a try and post your pics to my Facebook page!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympic-Inspired Meals: A Week of Dinner Ideas

Inspired by the Olympic games, Mr. Patton and I thought we'd mix it up last week for dinner. We challenged ourselves to create healthy versions of internationally-inspired meals from different countries every night. It was fun! Although these are meals we've certainly eaten before, it was interesting eating the different flavors of different countries every night. I hope you'll try mixing some of these meals into your routine too! It sure helps you to stay on track with your plan for healthy eating when you're not eating the same foods over and over again. Who said it had to be boring? Of course, they're simple to make and delicious too.

Monday: China
Menu: Baked Chicken Egg Rolls from Trader Joe's with Vegetable and Chicken Lo Mein

Instructions: In a wok or deep pan, stir-fry a mixture of vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, peas, water chestnuts, onion, mushrooms) and chicken in canola oil and soy sauce. I season with garlic powder, crushed red pepper and parsley. Meanwhile, boil noodles until they're nearly done (al dente) and bake egg rolls. Strain noodles and add to the wok. Mix veggies and noodles together. Serve with sweet n' sour dipping sauce.

Tuesday: Italy
Menu: Salad with my Lemony Dill Dressing and Penne Pasta Bake (made with leftover spaghetti sauce from last weekend)

Instructions: Prepare your favorite pasta sauce (my recipe is below). Pour whole wheat penne pasta in the bottom of a large baking dish (uncooked). Add sauce, ensuring all noodles are covered. Sprinkle reduced-fat mozzarella and parmesan cheese in a thin layer on top. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. My salad includes spring mix, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, banana pepper rings, a few croutons and my Lemony Dill Dressing.

My Beef Marinara: Saute chopped onion, green pepper and mushrooms in a large pot. Add extra lean ground beef and brown. Season with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder and Italian herbs (basil, oregano, parsley). Pour in two cans of diced tomatoes, one can tomato sauce and 1/2 can tomato paste. Add one can water. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Wednesday: Mexico
Menu: Chicken Fajitas, Brown Rice (mixed with tomatoes, onions, green bell pepper and jalapeños) and Fat-Free Refried Beans

Instructions: {Chicken} Marinate chicken in salt, pepper, garlic, red chili flakes, chili powder and cilantro. {Rice} Meanwhile, saute chopped bell pepper, onion, tomato and jalapenos in canola oil. Add brown rice to same pot and prepare according to package instructions. Season with salt and pepper. {Fajita Veggies} Slice onions and bell peppers into strips. Grill vegetables on a grill pan or on foil alongside the chicken. {Beans} Heat fat-free refried beans on low, stirring occasionally. {Fajitas} Serve chicken and peppers in a warmed tortilla with avocado and plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. Top beans with reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Thursday: USA (yea!)
Menu: Turkey Breast Burgers, Oven Fries and Sautéed Green Beans

Instructions: Slice red potatoes into fries. In a medium bowl, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and parsley. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes on a cookie sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. Mix ground turkey breast with salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Form burger patties and grill. Saute green beans (fresh or frozen) in 1/2 cup water and olive oil, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add 1 tablespoon real bacon bits. Serve burgers on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato, mustard and ketchup.

Friday: Great Britain
Menu: "Fish and Chips:"Baked Tilapia, Sliced Potato "Chips" and Roasted Broccoli with Lemon

Instructions: This version is baked instead of fried! Slice red potatoes into thin "chips." Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and parsley. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes on a cookie sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. In a shallow baking dish, place tilapia filets and broccoli. Squeeze fresh lemon across top and place the lemon in the dish too. Season tilapia with same seasonings as the "chips," also adding dill. When halfway through baking time, put fish and broccoli in the oven. Fish is done when it's opaque and flaky.

Saturday: Spain
Menu: Chicken and Shrimp Paella

Instructions: In a deep pan, brown chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder) in olive oil; remove and place to the side when done. Add more oil to the pan and sauté chopped red bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and peas until they begin to soften. Add water (per instructions on yellow rice package; I use Vigo yellow rice) and bring to boil. Add rice, cover and reduce heat. After 10 minutes, add shrimp, nestling them into the rice so they're covered. Cover and continue cooking until water is absorbed. Mix chicken back in. Serve garnished with parsley.

Sunday: USA (you have to represent your own country twice, right?)
Menu: Grilled Sirloin Steak, Baked Sweet Potato (topped with light butter and plain non-fat Greek yogurt) and Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

Instructions: Grill steak seasoned with your favorite spices. Cut zucchini into spears and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Wash sweet potato, stab once with a knife and microwave for about 6 minutes, or until soft. Top with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt to serve.

Have you eaten any Olympic-themed meals lately? How do you keep them healthy?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lemony Dill Salad Dressing

When I see a client, one of the first things I ask them to do is tell me what they usually eat in a day. This is ultimately to help me build a meal plan that will fit their life. By the time they reach my office, they've usually started "dieting" and are pleased to report boring meals (sorry!) without condiments, thinking they're doing the right thing by eliminating as much fat as possible. First of all, if they (or you) have made diet changes, that's a step in the right direction! But next, it's important to learn to eat in moderation. All fats are not bad, and in fact, they may even help you reap the maximum nutrition from your foods {read here} and can help lower cholesterol too.

So sure, it's a-okay to add a little bit of the salad dressing you crave to enhance the taste of your salad. Especially if it helps you eat your vegetables! Try to stick with no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons to keep fat and calories under control. When I don't want a creamy dressing, like ranch or blue cheese, I opt for vinaigrettes, which I've learned to make myself, thanks to my Mom. Here's my version of her standard. It's become my go-to dressing this summer because I can whip it up in about a minute and it's fresh tanginess is exactly what I need atop a crisp salad on a hot summer day. Even better news: this one is supremely low in calories, made with healthy unsaturated fats and contains absolutely no additives or preservatives!

Lemony Dill Dressing

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • A dash of Kosher salt
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Several grinds of fresh ground pepper
  • A couple shakes of garlic powder
  • A liberal amount of dill


  • Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl (or shake in a jar).

    Nutrition Facts

    Makes 5 tablespoons. Serving Size 1 Tablespoon. Calories 40 calories, Total Fat 4g.


    Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week. This dressing isn't just for green salads! Try it in side dishes too:
    • Mixed with lightly steamed green beans
    • In potato salad in place of mayo
    • Mixed with pasta salad in place of mayo.

      Wednesday, August 1, 2012

      Product Review: Uncle Sam Cereal (Original)

      Uncle Sam Cereal is manufactured by Attune Foods, whose belief is simple: that "pure ingredients taste better and are naturally delicious." Sound familiar? Hint: good food tastes good. Fundamentally, that's why I like their products.

      Having tried a few of their cereals in the past, they offered to send me some varieties I haven't tried before to officially provide a review. This morning, I tried the Original Uncle Sam Cereal; created from the combination of whole rolled wheat berries, whole flaxseeds and lightly seasoned with salt and barley malt. Just four natural and hardly processed ingredients.

      From the first bite, I was very pleased with the flavor of the Original cereal. The rolled and toasted wheat berry flakes are delightfully crunchy and naturally flavorful. The barley malt (a natural sweetener derived from barley) adds just the tiniest sweetness--the way I prefer cereals to be. Some might call me "plain Jane," but I don't like a lot of added sweetness, especially in cereals, but appreciate ingredients the way they are. If you are accustomed to eating added sugars, I encourage you to gradually decrease the amount that you add. Then you'll be able to taste the natural sweetness in carbohydrates such as grains, milk, yogurt and fruit too!

      You just can't beat the amount of fiber found in this cereal. Even better, in my opinion, is that it is all naturally-occurring and not fortified. Per 3/4 cup serving, Uncle Sam Original contains 2 grams of soluble fiber, the type that helps lower cholesterol. That's quite impressive for a single serving! And 8 grams of insoluble fiber, the type that aids in digestion, is nothing to scoff at either. I challenge you to find these amounts in other foods; they're few and far between. High fiber foods can aid in weight management since they keep you full for longer and can also help blunt the glycemic response, helping to control blood sugars and insulin levels.

      Uncle Sam Original also contains 7 grams of plant-based protein from whole wheat and flaxseeds. Add 1 cup of milk for a total of 15 grams of protein. That's a protein-packed breakfast! Protein helps build and repair tissues in the body, but contrary to common misconception, it does not have to be derived from meat, cheese and eggs.

      The flaxseeds also provide a nice dose of healthy fats (4.5 grams), particularly omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit heart health. In their whole form, flaxseeds also provide fiber, but when not chewed completely it is difficult to extract the fatty acid-containing oils. Chew thoroughly to reap all the benefits. If you have diverticulosis, this cereal would not be a good choice as it is likely the seeds would remain intact when traveling through the digestive system, which could lead to diverticulitis. I would love to see a flax-free version of Uncle Sam cereals too.

      To complete my breakfast, I added some unsweetened, dried wild blueberries. In combination, these ingredients formed a simple and fast breakfast that is nutrient-packed and includes ingredients from nearly all food groups: grains, fruit, milk, fat and protein. That makes a tasty breakfast that will fill you up and provide energy to start your day. Great taste and great nutritional profile; it's a product that will be sticking around in my pantry!

      Uncle Sam cereals also come in other varieties, including Raisin Bran and Strawberry. Learn more about Uncle Sam cereals and Attune Foods (who also manufacture gluten-free cereals) here. They can be purchased locally too, so check your local Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Wal Mart or neighborhood grocery store!

      Nutrition facts per 3/4 cup serving: Calories 190, total fat 5g, saturated fat 0.5g, sodium 135mg, total carb 38g, dietary fiber 10g, sugars <1g, protein 7g. Minerals: iron 10%, calcium 4%, magnesium 25%, phosphorus 20%.

      Ingredients: Whole wheat kernels, whole flaxseed, salt, barley malt. This item is not gluten-free.

      One of the perks of my job is receiving complementary samples of products or compensation for passing along my expert opinion as a Registered Dietitian. Please be assured that my opinion is my own and my review is not guaranteed to be positive solely because I have received compensation. I'm here to help you--the consumer--sort through the vast amounts of nutrition information available to find legitimate answers. This is my primary goal in providing product reviews and sponsored contests on my blog.