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An Egg-cellent Idea!

Easter is just around the corner, and while the kids are getting excited about searching for eggs in the yard…I can’t wait to boil some up and devil ‘em.

The biggest pain when it comes to deviled eggs is how to perfectly hard-boil the eggs in the first place. While I’ve heard you can add a teaspoon of salt and a ¼ cup of white vinegar to your water, this is what always works for me:
– Place your eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a pot of cold water, making sure the water is about an inch above the eggs (here’s where you can add the salt and vinegar if you want—it won’t effect the taste at all—it’s just been said to make peeling the shells off easier)
– As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, turn the burner off, cover the pot and allow to sit for about 10 minutes
– Remove the eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water
– As soon as they’re cool, peel them!

Once you have them successfully peeled, now it’s time to take the yolks out and make your deviled eggs!

What you’ll need:
12 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. yellow mustard
2 tsp. white vinegar
Salt & pepper
Paprika

Halve your peeled eggs and place the yolks in a bowl. Mash with a fork and add the remaining ingredients, except for the paprika. Spoon (or pipe!) mixture back into the hollowed out egg halves. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve!

This is one of those traditional sides that is always on my supper table at Easter—but get creative with it! I’ve used green onions to make little football-like laces and served these at tailgates, and check out the video below to see how you can get even more creative this Easter!

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Red Flags: How to Avoid a Fad Diet

In our society, dieting is the norm. Weight loss programs make up a multi-billion dollar industry encouraging Americans to jump on the next bandwagon and try the newest “fad” diet. While some of these dieting strategies are based on a string of truth, many are taken to extremes claiming speedy results often at the expense of health.

In March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month, which is the perfect time to focus on the benefits of nutritious foods and avoid the temptation to settle for a “quick fix”. This month, (and all year long) watch for these red flags of a “fad” diet:

1. Rapid Weight Loss

To get this point, you have to understand body composition. First of all, weight is not the only indicator of health. Yes, we look at weight to estimate disease risk, but we are ultimately concerned about body composition, or how much of your body is made up of muscle, water, bone, and of course, fat. Rapid weight loss is indicative of a loss in muscle, bone, or water, in other words, lean body mass – the stuff we don’t want to lose! Rather, a slow and steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, protects lean body mass and promotes the loss of fat instead. Plus, slower weight loss is more sustainable and tends to stay off in the long run. Our bodies weren’t meant to change quickly. In this case, slow and steady wins the race.

2. Quantities, Limitations, and Rigid Menus

Many “fad” diets will suggest rigid menus with specific quantities of certain foods and limitations on others; however, research shows that eating a variety of foods from all food groups is important for health. Each food group performs a specific function in the body:

• Carbohydrate is the body’s primary energy source and also plays a role in making neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that help control mood.
• Protein is the building block for muscles, bone, skin, and blood providing important nutrients such as iron and omega-3 fatty acids from seafood.
• Fruits and vegetables are high vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants to support immune function and prevent disease.
• Dairy provides calcium and vitamin D which are vital for bone health and reduce the risk of depression.
• Healthy fats support brain function, hormone and cell production, and nerve transduction as well as aid in the digestion of the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, K.

Restricting a food group throws the whole system off. Plus, I don’t know about you, but when I’m told that I can’t have something, suddenly that’s the only thing I want! If a diet requires you to NEVER eat your favorite foods, you’ll most likely end up wanting them more and you may even overindulge later. Quantities, limitations, and rigid menus also increase stress. Cortisol is the hormone released during stressful situations and it also causes your body to store fat! You can see how this type of dieting is not only unsustainable, but it’s actually counterproductive. Instead, eat a variety of foods from all food groups in moderation and without guilt. Life is stressful enough. Let’s try not to complicate things.

3. No need to Exercise

“Fad” diets will often claim that exercise isn’t necessary – an approach that is not backed by science. Exercise not only helps sustain weight loss, but also lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and supports your immune system. Physical activity should go hand in hand with nutrition as a part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, there are no foods or pills that magically burn fat while you sleep. Even “superfoods” while nutrient dense, are not “miracle” foods. A good rule of thumb is if a diet or product seems too good to be true, it probably is. Instead of falling for the false promises of a “fad” diet, take your health into your own hands and incorporate healthier habits into your daily lifestyle.

This National Nutrition Month, focus on variety, balance, and moderation. Your physical and mental health will thank you for it.

Elizabeth Hall, RDN, LDN
Food City Registered Dietitian
Twitter: @FCDietitian

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Brownie Bouquet!

It’s springtime, and I LOVE all the beautiful flowers everywhere. (Peonies are my absolute fave!) A vase full of colorful stems can brighten up any occasion and provide the perfect centerpiece at any party.

Last year, I was attending a birthday get-together for a friend of mine in May…and I was trying to think of something to take. I had a cute vase at home, but I wanted to kick it up a notch and do something besides normal flowers.
So the wheels started turning.

What if I took mini brownies…put some icing ‘petals’ on them…and then made them into a flower arrangement?! Done.

I showed up with a pretty centerpiece that we could all snack on…and it wasn’t long until there were only sticks and leaves left! 😉

What you’ll need:
Mini brownies (either bought from the bakery or made using a box mix and a mini muffin pan)
Tubes of icing (pink, white, yellow…you choose the color to match!)
½ cup of candy melts
Cake pop sticks
Vase
Floral Styrofoam
Greenery

Melt the candy melts in a glass in the microwave on 30-second increments, stirring between each. When melted, dip the end of the cake pop stick in the melted chocolate and stick into the bottom of the mini brownies. Place stick-side-up on a plate or cookie sheet and put in the freezer so the melted chocolate can harden on the brownie and form a type of cement. Then, use the tubes of icing to put little ‘flower petals’ on top of the mini brownies—feel free to get creative with it! Put the floral Styrofoam into your vase and place the greenery and ‘brownie flowers’ into a beautiful, non-toxic and edible arrangement!

You can use this as a centerpiece for a baby or bridal shower, or even give as a gift!

Enjoy!

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Give and take…a book!

I’m willing to bet that you didn’t know that Read Across America Day is upon us! (I’m saying that because I didn’t know it either…!) Given that I’m all about celebrating other unique “holidays” (Exhibit A: National Donut Day), I figured I would promote one that is actually beneficial!
A few years ago, I was hosting my son’s 3rd birthday party. I was trying to figure out a way to put “please—no gifts!” on the invitation because—let’s face it—I didn’t want another puzzle or toy to have to find storage space for. Now, don’t get me wrong—giving gifts is fun for the party-goers, too…so I wanted to come up with a way to not get rid of that part of the party altogether. I was talking to another mom and she suggested the Book Exchange!
Here’s how it works:
1. On the party invitation (or e-vite or email), simply ask that each child invited bring a new (or used! It’s up to you!) book that is gift-wrapped with a tag stating who brought it.
2. When the guests arrive, have a cute bin or basket where the guests can place their wrapped books.
3. Eat, drink and be merry!
4. When it comes time when the birthday boy or girl usually opens gifts, ask everyone to gather around and have the kids sit in a circle.
5. Pass the basket/bin around and each child is allowed to take, open and keep one book!
It’s really a great idea—it’s a great way for everyone to get a new book and for everyone to have fun opening a gift! (Plus, the book doubles as a favor, so that’s one less party-planning item on your list!) 😉

Have you hosted any creative birthday parties like this? Let us know!

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