Thursday, May 19, 2016

2016 Way to a Better Life Contest Summary

For those of you that might be interested we have compiled a report of how contestants in the 2016 Way to a Better Life Contest improved their health. Results are overwhelming positive. Way to go everyone!

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


You completed the Way to a Better Life Challenge!

We hope you enjoyed this challenge and that you found ways to create lasting habits that will continue to improve your health.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe


·         4 large eggs, separated
·         3 tablespoons butter
·         8 ounces dark baking chocolate, chopped           

·         1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
·         1 container (2-1/2 ounces) prune baby food
·         1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·         Confectioners' sugar
1.    Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-in. springform pan with cooking spray; place on a baking sheet.
2.    In a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on high speed 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in baby food, vanilla and chocolate mixture.
3.    With clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high after each addition until sugar is dissolved. Continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form. Fold a fourth of the whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in remaining whites.
4.    Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack 20 minutes. Loosen sides from pan with a knife; remove rim from pan. Cool cake completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Yield: 12 servings

Nutritional Facts

1 slice equals 188 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 78 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Best Lasagna Soup Recipe


  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-1/2 cups uncooked spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large saucepan, cook beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, breaking up beef into crumbles. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce, corn, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 8 servings (2-3/4 quarts).

Nutritional Facts

1-1/3 cups soup with 1 tablespoon cheese equals 280 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 41 mg cholesterol, 572 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 20 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 1-1/2 starch.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Learn How to Read Nutrition Labels

Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier choices.

Here are some tips for making the most of the information on the Nutrition Facts label:

Nutrition Facts Label

1 - Start with the serving information at the top of the label.

This will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings per container (package).

2 - Next, check total calories per serving.

Pay attention to the calories per serving and how many servings you’re really consuming if you eat the whole package. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients.

The next section of information on a nutrition label is about the amounts of specific nutrients in the product.

3 - Limit these nutrients.

AHA recommends limiting these nutrients: Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 11-13 grams of saturated fat, as little trans fat as possible, and no more than 1,500 mg of sodium.

4 - Get enough of these nutrients.

Make sure you get enough of beneficial nutrients such as: dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

5 - Quick guide to % Daily Value.

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:
  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

Learn more:

-American Heart Association

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Skinny Broccoli Salad Recipe

  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • ¾ cup reduced-salt green olives
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (I like Sargento®)
  • 1 cup Bolthouse Farms® Classic Ranch Yogurt Dressing
  1. In a large bowl combine the broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, onion, olives, tomatoes, cheddar, and dressing and gently toss.
  2. Serve chilled.
by Brooke Griffin | November 22, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Make lean or low-fat choices from the Protein Foods Group

Foods in the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and seed group provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. However, choosing foods from this group that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol may have health implications.

NutrientsMeat, spinach, and beans image

  • Diets that are high in saturated fats raise “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. The “bad” cholesterol is called LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol, in turn, increases the risk for coronary heart disease. Some food choices in this group are high in saturated fat. These include fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb; regular (75% to 85% lean) ground beef; regular sausages, hot dogs, and bacon; some luncheon meats such as regular bologna and salami; and some poultry such as duck. To help keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, limit the amount of these foods you eat.
  • Diets that are high in cholesterol can raise LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Cholesterol is only found in foods from animal sources. Some foods from this group are high in cholesterol. These include egg yolks (egg whites are cholesterol-free) and organ meats such as liver and giblets. To help keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, limit the amount of these foods you eat.
  • A high intake of fats makes it difficult to avoid consuming more calories than are needed.

Why is it important to eat 8 ounces of seafood per week?

  • Seafood contains a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Eating about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood contributes to the prevention of heart disease. Smaller amounts of seafood are recommended for young children.
  • Seafood varieties that are commonly consumed in the United States that are higher in EPA and DHA and lower in mercury include salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel (not king mackerel, which is high in mercury). The health benefits from consuming seafood outweigh the health risk associated with mercury, a heavy metal found in seafood in varying levels.

Health benefits

  • Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds supply many nutrients. These include protein, B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They are also building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. Proteins are one of three nutrients that provide calories (the others are fat and carbohydrates).
  • B vitamins found in this food group serve a variety of functions in the body. They help the body release energy, play a vital role in the function of the nervous system, aid in the formation of red blood cells, and help build tissues.
  • Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Many teenage girls and women in their child-bearing years have iron-deficiency anemia. They should eat foods high in heme-iron (meats) or eat other non-heme iron containing foods along with a food rich in vitamin C, which can improve absorption of non-heme iron.
  • Magnesium is used in building bones and in releasing energy from muscles.
  • Zinc is necessary for biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function properly.
  • EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids found in varying amounts in seafood. Eating 8 ounces per week of seafood may help reduce the risk for heart disease.

What are the benefits of eating nuts and seeds?

  • Eating peanuts and certain tree nuts (i.e., walnuts, almonds, and pistachios) may reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed as part of a diet that is nutritionally adequate and within calorie needs. Because nuts and seeds are high in calories, eat them in small portions and use them to replace other protein foods, like some meat or poultry, rather than adding them to what you already eat. In addition, choose unsalted nuts and seeds to help reduce sodium intakes.
- See more at:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Got Your Dairy Today? 10 tips to help you eat and drink more fat-free or low-fat dairy foods

The Dairy Group includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soymilk. They provide calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein, and other nutrients needed for good health throughout life. Choices should be lowfat or fat-free — to cut calories and saturated fat. How much is needed? Older children, teens, and adults need 3 cups* a day, while children 4 to 8 years old need 2½ cups, and children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups.
  1. “Skim” the fat
    Drink fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. If you currently drink whole milk, gradually switch to lower fat versions. This change cuts calories but doesn’t reduce calcium or other essential nutrients. 
  2. Boost potassium and vitamin D, and cut sodium
    Choose fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese. Milk and yogurt have more potassium and less sodium than most cheeses. Also, almost all milk and many yogurts are fortified with vitamin D. 
  3. Top off your meals
    Use fat-free or low-fat milk on cereal and oatmeal. Top fruit salads and baked potatoes with low-fat yogurt instead of higher fat toppings such as sour cream.
  4. Choose cheeses with less fat
    Many cheeses are high in saturated fat. Look for “reduced-fat” or “low-fat” on the label. Try different brands or types to find the one that you like. 
  5. What about cream cheese?Regular cream cheese, cream, and butter are not part of the dairy food group. They are high in saturated fat and have little or no calcium.
  6. Ingredient switchesWhen recipes such as dips call for sour cream, substitute plain yogurt. Use fat-free evaporated milk instead of cream, and try ricotta cheese as a substitute for cream cheese.
  7. Choose sweet dairy foods with care 
    Flavored milks, fruit yogurts, frozen yogurt, and puddings can contain a lot of added sugars. These added sugars are empty calories. You need the nutrients in dairy foods — not these empty calories.
  8. Caffeinating?
    If so, get your calcium along with your morning caffeine boost. Make or order coffee, a latte, or cappuccino with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  9. Can’t drink milk?
    If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk, drink smaller amounts of milk at a time, or try soymilk (soy beverage). Check the Nutrition Facts label to be sure your soymilk has about 300 mg of calcium. Calcium in some leafy greens is well absorbed, but eating several cups each day to meet calcium needs may be unrealistic.

  10. Take care of yourself and your family
    Parents who drink milk and eat dairy foods show their kids that it is important. Dairy foods are especially important to build the growing bones of kids and teens. Routinely include low-fat or fat-free dairy foods with meals and snacks — for everyone’s benefit. 
* What counts as a cup in the Dairy Group? In general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk (soy beverage), 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the Dairy Group.
- See more at:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Make Half Your Grains Whole: 10 tips to help you eat whole grains

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel — the bran, germ, and endosperm. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. 
  1. Make simple switches
    To make half your grains whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined-grain product. For example, eat 100% whole-wheat bread or bagels instead of white bread or bagels, or brown rice instead of white rice.
  2. Whole grains can be healthy snacks
    Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack. Make it with little or no added salt or butter. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.
  3. Save some time 
    Cook extra bulgur or barley when you have time. Freeze half to heat and serve later as a quick side dish.
  4. Mix it up with whole grains
    Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soups or stews and bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. Try a quinoa salad or pilaf.
  5. Try whole-wheat versions
    For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes, and whole-wheat macaroni in macaroni and cheese.
  6. Bake up some whole-grain goodness
    Experiment by substituting buckwheat, millet, or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening in order to rise.
  7. Be a good role model for children
    Set a good example for children by serving and eating whole grains every day with meals or as snacks.
  8. Check the label for fiber
    Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the fiber content of whole-grain foods. Good sources of fiber contain 10% to 19% of the Daily Value; excellent sources contain 20% or more.
  9. Know what to look for on the ingredients list 
    Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a wholegrain ingredient first on the list. Look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “whole-grain cornmeal,” “whole oats,” “whole rye,” or “wild rice.”
  10. Be a smart shopper
    The color of a food is not an indication that it is a whole-grain food. Foods labeled as “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not 100% whole-grain products, and may not contain any whole grain.
- See more at:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Make Celebrations Fun, Healthy & Active: 10 tips to creating healthy, active events

Eating healthy and being physically active can be a fun part of parties and events. Great gatherings are easy to do when tasty, healthy foods from all the food groups are offered in a fun, active environment. Above all, focus on enjoying friends and family.
  1. Make healthy habits part of your celebrations 
    Food and beverages are a part of an event, but they do not have to be the center of the occasion. Focus on activities to get people moving and enjoy being together.
  2. Make foods look festive 
    Decorate foods with nuts or seeds or use new shapes for vegetables. Add a few eye-catching fruits to a favorite dish, serve up a new recipe, or add a sprinkle of almonds or green onions to add just an extra something.
  3. Offer thirst quenches that please 
    Make fun ice cubes from 100% juice or add slices of fruit to make water more exciting. Create a “float” by  adding a scoop of low-fat sorbet to seltzer water.
  4. Savor the flavor 
    Take time to pay attention to the taste of each bite of food. Make small changes in your old recipes or try dishes from another culture to liven things up.
  5. Use to include foods from the food groups for your party 
    Offer whole-grain crackers, serve a spicy bean dip and a veggie tray, make fruit kabobs, layer yogurt and fruit to create a sweet parfait. Use whole grains and veggies to make a savory, healthy salad.
  6. Make moving part of every event 
    Being physically active makes everyone feel good. Dancing, moving, playing active games, wiggling, and giggling add fun to any gathering.
  7. Try out some healthier recipes 
    Find ways to cut back on sugar, salt, and fat as you prepare your favorite recipes. Try out some of the recipes on ChooseMyPlate and the What's Cooking? website.
  8. Keep it simple 
    Have others participate by contributing a prepared dish, helping with the clean up, or keeping the kids active and moving.
  9. Shop smart to eat smart 
    Save money by offering foods that fit your budget. Buy in-season produce when it costs less and tastes better. Plan in advance and buy foods on sale.
  10. Be a cheerleader for healthy habits 
    It’s never too early for adults to set an example. Keep in mind that children follow what the adults around them do — even at parties.
- See more at:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fruit Crumble Recipe

Use whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand to make this old-fashioned crumble. Typical crumble topping has as much as a half cup of butter—ours has just a bit of canola oil and, for richness, chopped almonds, which are full of healthy monounsaturated fats.


·         2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, such as blueberries, peaches, plums

·         1 tablespoon granulated sugar

·         3 tablespoons whole-wheat or all-purpose flour, divided

·         1 tablespoon orange juice

·         1/2 cup rolled oats

·         1/4 cup chopped almonds, or pecans                   

·         3 tablespoons brown sugar

·         1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

·         2 tablespoons canola oil


1.    Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.    Combine fruit with granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and orange juice. Divide among four 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins. Combine oats, nuts, brown sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Drizzle with oil and stir to combine. Sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

3.    Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Eating Foods Away from Home

Restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, or fast-food places offer a variety of options when eating out. But larger portions and too many extras can make it difficult to stay within your calorie needs. Think about ways to make healthier choices when eating food away from home.
  1. Consider your drink
    Choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and other drinks without added sugars to complement your meal.
  2. Savor a salad
    Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables to help you feel satisfied sooner. Ask for dressing on the side and use a small amount of it.
  3. Share a main dish
    Divide a main entree between family and friends. Ask for small plates for everyone at the table.
  4. Select from the sides
    Order a side dish or an appetizer-sized portion instead of a regular entree. They’re usually served on smaller plates and in smaller amounts.

  5. Pack your snack
    Pack fruit, sliced vegetables, low-fat string cheese, or unsalted nuts to eat during road trips or long commutes. No need to stop for other food when these snacks are ready-to-eat.
  6. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruit 
    Stir-fries, kabobs, or vegetarian options are usually filled with vegetables. Order options without creamy sauces or heavy gravies. Select fruits for dessert.
  7. Compare the calories, fat, and sodium
    Many menus now include nutrition information. Look for items that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Check with your server if you don’t see them on the menu. For more information, check the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) website.
  8. Pass on the buffet
    Have an item from the menu and avoid the “all-you-can-eat” buffet. Steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes have fewer calories than foods that are fried in oil or cooked in butter.
  9. Get your whole grains
    Request 100% whole-wheat breads, rolls, and pasta when choosing sandwiches, burgers, or main dishes.

  10. Quit the "clean your plate" club
    When you’ve eaten enough food, leave the rest. Take leftovers home in a container and chill in the refrigerator right away.
- See more at:

Monday, April 11, 2016

Water & Nutrition

Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking with meals. Most of your fluid needs are met through the water and beverages you drink. However, you can get some fluids through the foods that you eat. For example, broth soups and foods with high water content such as celery, tomatoes, or melons can contribute to fluid intake.


Water helps your body:

·         Keep your temperature normal

·         Lubricate and cushion joints

·         Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues

·         Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements


Your body needs more water when you are:      

·         In hot climates

·         More physically active                                            

·         Running a fever

·         Having diarrhea or vomiting


If you think you are not getting enough water, these tips may help:

·         Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands.

·         Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.

·         Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories. For example, during the school day students should have access to drinking water giving them a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.

·         Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.

·         Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Limit Sweet Drinks

Studies link an increase in Americans' intake of sweetened drinks — especially soda and sports drinks — with an unhealthy increase in our body weight.

Sweet drinks are also linked to:     

·         Weak bones
·         Tooth decay

·        Increased desire for sugar (and in some cases, caffeine)     

Ideas to make it happen

Go with H2O.
Carry water with you — and drink it all day long.

Rethink mealtime drinks.
Drink water or milk (skim or 1%) at meals and snack times.

Make it special.
Save soda, lemonade, Kool-Aid, and punch for special occasions — no more than once a week. If you're used to drinking regular soda, switch to diet soda.

Watch the juice.
Drink 100% fruit juice — but limit yourself to one small (4 to 6 ounces) glass or juice box a day. Or, eat a piece of fruit instead. You'll get more nutrients, and feel more satisfied.

Exercise caution.
Go easy on the sports drinks — most of the time, water is best for exercise.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Eat Breakfast

Numerous studies done over the past 20 years have shown that eating a healthy breakfast can improve memory, concentration, creativity, problem solving, and mood. A good breakfast can help you perform better at school, and helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight too.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

·         Aim for a breakfast that includes at least three of the five main food groups. Combinations like eggs, whole-grain toast, and milk; or cereal, milk, and an apple.

·         Choose whole-grain bread, cereal, or oatmeal to start your day. 

·         Choose low-fat dairy options, or fortified soy milk if you're lactose intolerant. 

·         Look for cold cereal brands that have no trans-fat, little or no added sugar, and list a whole grain as a first ingredient. 

·         Top your cereal with fruits like bananas, berries, or peaches. 

·         Mix fruit and granola into low-fat yogurt.

·         Pack breakfast if you're running late, like fruit, yogurt, whole grain bagel, or hard-boiled egg. 

·        Avoid pastries and sugary cereals; the energy they give won't last long.