Cranberry Bog tips and a Delightful Chicken Salad recipe

More on Cranberries!

I was lucky enough to receive yet another assignment from The Cranberry Institute. They provided me with useful, healthful cranberry tips and a delicious new recipe to try out (and even some ingredients to get me started.) The following recipe is based on a combo created by the Cranberry Marketing Committee and it sounds delish. However, because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, I adjusted the recipe slightly and it came out delish. I’ve also included a link to their recipe (at the bottom). Both heart-healthy with plenty of greens and a tasty chicken salad base.

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The following tips are courtesy of the Cranberry Institute:

Tips: Four Tidbits about the Tiny, Tart Cranberry


1.       Cranberries naturally contain the flavonoid proanthocyanidins (PACs). The unique structure of the PACs found in cranberries offer properties that prevent bacteria from sticking to cell walls.

2.       The PACs in cranberries may help prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, such as E. coli associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs).

3.       MyPlate suggests trying dried fruits, including dried cranberries, as a snack because they are easy-to-carry and store well. Perfectly portioned single-serve packs of dried cranberries are an easy grab-and-go snack!

4.       Cranberries are naturally fat-free, have little sodium and align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations.

Here’s a Cranberry Chicken Salad recipe I put together, inspired by the Cranberry Marketing Committee:

Based on their Favorite Recipe Right Now!



Cranberry Chicken Salad In a Pita

Makes 8 servings

Portion: ½ cup chicken salad 1/2 Whole Grain Pita

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup 100% cranberry juice, unsweetened
  • 2/3 cup Nutri-Savvy’s Yogurt-based Poppyseed Dressing
  • 8 oz. grilled white chicken meat, diced
  • 1 cup sliced celery (or shredded cabbage – can buy Dole shredded cabbage package or use a proper Food Processor blade to shred fresh cabbage)
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 cups Mixed Greens
  • 4 Whole Wheat Pita’s, halved


1. Heat cranberries and cranberry juice. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature. Allow cranberries to absorb all liquid. Set asisde.

2. Stir in Nutri-Savvy’s Yogurt-based Poppyseed Dressing, diced chicken, celery and scallions. Toss well to coat. Stir in cranberries and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

3. To Serve: For each serving, place ¼ cup  mixed greens in 1/2 of a pita and portion ½ cup of the chicken cranberry salad on top.

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Origional Recipe courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee,

Adjusted recipe (detailed here) courtesy of moi, Lauren O’Connor, MS, RDN of Nutri-Savvy Health & Wellness.

Sweet n Tangy “coleslaw” dressing (made with yogurt)

 Recipe by Lauren O’Connor, MS, RDN

Creamy %22coleslaw%22 dressingSalad Dressing can certainly make a salad tasty. But you don’t want all the fat and calories. Take for instance coleslaw — it can be made with a lot of mayo  (and thus a lot of fat coating the good-for-you greens (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc).  So I came up with a coleslaw dressing that uses less Mayo, yet still has creaminess and good flavor of a traditional coleslaw.

This is a pre-packed chopped salad mix I bought. It’s got two kinds of cabbage and some carrots (I added some cranberries and sliced almonds, but not too much). Be it cabbage, broccoli and cucumber (or whatever blend of crunchy veggies you choose – kale is a good choice, too) can be processed into strands in a food processor with the right blade.

Creamy poppyseed dressing:

  • 1/4 cup Strained Greek Yogurt, plain, non fat (I used Fage 0%)
  • 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp or to taste Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1-2 tsp poppy seeds (or chia)

Mix all ingredients until blended well, should be creamy and yet thin enough to mix into a “coleslaw”-like salad. Since strained yogurt is pretty thick, adding in the rice vinegar helps to thin it out while maintaining creamy consistency. The mayonnaise adds to the pleasant mouthfeel and consistency and the honey helps balance with a little sweetness. Note: the rice vinegar adds a bit of sweetness, too.


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Q: What is your favorite salad dressing? 

Need me to help you lighten it up? Send me your dressing choice and I’ll take on the challenge. :)

Add a Little Sweat Leaf® to your Fall Treats #Review

Although I received a sample of SweetLeaf® Stevia Sweetener for review. These opinions are expressly my own.


stevia drops

When Sweet Leaf® Stevia Peppermint Mocha Stevia drops arrived on my doorstep, I thought about making a Peppermint Mocha Smoothie. (Yep, it’s still hot and sunny in So Cal even though Halloween is practically around the corner). But I wanted to be a little more creative.  While I pondered over a Peppermint Mocha baked treat, I enjoyed some drops in my morning coffee (and I assure you the added flavor made it special).

I’m delighted to share with you my newest Fall treats, but first I want to share why this product is so useful.

Here’s what I love about this product:

  • It’s sugar-free (NO artificial/chemical NO sugar-alcohols)
  • It’s easy to dispense and control with a dropper (so while the drops may vary – so little comes out at a time, so it’s easier enough to control.
  • It doesn’t have a strange aftertaste
  • While it certainly can take the place of sugar, depending on the recipe, it can also enhance a recipe in a similar way that Vanilla extract does (not only adding flavor, but just the right touch of sweetness without overpowering – because you can easily control it “to taste”). You can halve (use half) the sugar in a recipe and add a little of this to make your treat just right — in terms of both taste AND sugar-control.

The first thing I made was my 5-ingredient Homemade Granola using raw oats, Peppermint Mocha SweetLeaf® Stevia Sweetener (instead of my go-to Vanilla extract and an unflavored packet of stevia), pistachios, applesauce and nut butter. Well I have to admit – being sugar-free (no added sugars), it was certainly sweet enough, but the peppermint mocha flavor didn’t come through possibly due to too much competition from the other flavors including the nut butter and oats ratio. Next time I’ll use a little more. But it certainly was crunchy and the Stevia did add enough sweetness.

Pistachio Peppermint Mocha Granola


So I decided to try it out with a version of a Grain-Free cake made with Coconut Flour. This time the Mocha and Peppermint flavors came through. And it was absolutely delish.

Peppermint Mocha Cake – moist, gluten-free and delish!

Here’s a close up so you can see the pleasing texture:

GF Peppermint Mocha Cake

My husband, a great cook and my “pastry chef extraordinary”, absolutely loved it. This one’s staying in my files. : )

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup, pure
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp (a pinch) sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 12 dried plums
  • 2 dropper-fuls Stevia Peppermint Mocha flavoring
  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance Light, softened (but not melted)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix maple syrup and shredded carrots. Place in Tupperware and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat oven to 325º F. In a food processor, combine carrot/maple mixture, dried plums and Stevia Peppermint Mocha until well blended, but not completely smooth (texture is good). Pour into a bowl and mix in eggs. In a  separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt). Pour dry ingredients into carrot/maple/plum mixture and blend well. Mix in walnuts and chocolate chips. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from  oven and let cool. Optional: Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into 11 equal slices.

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Have a slice and a sweet rest of the week.

GF Peppermint Mocha Cake 2

Lunch Box Builders: PART 1 (Creating Healthy Lunches Your Kids WILL Eat!)

We know not every kid fits one mold, so why feel chained to one method. The truth is getting your kids to eat the healthy lunches you pack can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can even get them to help you.

Some kids enjoy textures, colors and combos that say “pizazz” others may prefer food items more bland and/or separate. Get to know your child’s likes and tailor your plan to meet his/her needs. That doesn’t mean skip the veggies and offer only pasta.

What it means is this:

You can serve a meal in many different ways. If your child prefers pizza – then fix up a pizza that’s nutrient-dense (and tasty, too). You can use many of the same combos in various ways. For older kids, chicken on a skewer/veggie kabob may be one option. For younger kids you might serve the chicken in chunks with a hummus dip and raw veggies on the side for dipping. And it may help to get your child involved.

Here’s one of my very own little chefs, Ailish:

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Keep it simple:

FOCUS ON: Protein, Dairy, Fruit, Vegetable (Why didn’t I include whole grains? Read below.)

Discover your child’s preferences in “packaging”. He/she may be one or more of these (and preferences do generally change a bit with age):

  • The little dipper – Chicken “nuggets” , hummus, carrots & cucumber or zucchini, string cheese
  • The high roller (turkey rolls, etc) turkey roll with turkey, cheese, veggie choice (kale chips) a side of fresh chopped fruit or berries
  • The earl of sandwich – PB& J, chicken or turkey & cheese, serve with apple slices and seaweed snacks (can use traditional sliced whole grain bread, leftover waffles or pancakes or whole grain eggo’s)
  • The subway hound – roll with sliced lunch meat, hummus, lettuce, tom serve with baby carrots, string cheese
  • The pizza maven – fresh fruit pizzas serve with extra side of yogurt and cucumber slices.

But feel free to experiment and mix it up a bit. Your child’s preferences do change in time and he/she may be ready for a change-up at some point.


Don’t feel you have to pack everything in. Don’t overwhelm. As long as you a food item: one of each category PVFV. Many lunch containers keep things within reasonable portions. Remember you can always serve up a healthy snack to get in more healthy nutrients.


Why  didn’t I mentionwhole grains*”:

If your child is like most, he/she will lean toward the pastas, rice, breads – all of which can contain healthy/heart-y whole grains. So you don’t have to worry about encouraging this Food Group.

*Note: It is up to you to find the “whole grain” items that provide the most nutrition. For example wheat bread and brown rice over white, because the more it is processed (i.e. bran removed from kernel in polished white rice), the less fiber and nutrient value your food has. Tip: Look for 3g per serving!


Stay tuned for MORE tips of encouraging your child to eat the healthy lunch you’ve prepared.

MMMmmm…. Hummus with Lemon & Thyme!

D E L I C I O U S ! ! ! – I love the aroma of lemon & thyme.  My friends’ mom uses these flavors in her homemade Zaatar (a blend of Middle Eastern Spices such as these: thyme, oregano, dried lemon zest and sesame seeds). And since I had a lot of chickpeas (soaked and ready to eat), I thought this would be a perfect addition to my homemade hummus. Not only do these spices make the flavor pop, it also has a nice visual appeal.

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Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) – I soaked dried beans, but you can use canned.
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Tahini (sesame butter)
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of pine nuts (for garnish)
  • 2 Tablespoons Zaatar (for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil (to drizzle on top when it’s done) – You can use the oil from your Tahini (sesame butter).

In a blender add garbanzo beans, lemon juice, Tahini, garlic and sea salt and pulse until coarsely combined. Set to blend and slowly drizzle in oil until it becomes creamy. If still too course, add in more lemon juice (or chicken broth) a Tablespoon at a time. Scoop mixture into a glass tupperware. Sprinkle pine nuts and Zaatar on top and drizzle on sesame oil.

Nutrition info. per (1 oz) serving: Cal 78, Fat 5g, Chol 0mg, Sodium 70mg, Carb 7g, Fiber 2g, Sugars 1g, Protein 2g

Hope you enjoy!

Sept is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month #GuestPost



by Carmen Johnson, BCHC


President Obama has declared September National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, but as kids across America head back to school, there’s an ongoing controversy around school nutrition policies that may not be putting the health of our children at the forefront.


Despite increased awareness, education and intervention programs, childhood obesity in the United States has actually increased since 2000 from 14.5 to 17.3 percent of American kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In fact, the current rate of childhood obesity in America is three times higher than it was just a generation ago! As a result, today’s youth face an alarmingly high risk for such life-threatening conditions as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and cancer.


The First Lady’s Let’s Move! program is slowly getting lawmakers and regulators to realize that their policies, though well-meaning, lead to wasteful spending and often poor nutritional value in the food we serve our kids at school. Ironically, the children at greatest risk are those from low-income families who may be getting most or even all of their daily food intake from school meals.


As a mom who also happens to be a Certified Health Coach, I knew positive changes were happening in various schools across the country and I set off to find out how other schools were making positive, healthy changes. This is the beginning of a solution revolution, arming parents and educators with the know-how and resources to combat childhood obesity by sharing replicable models of success in The Healthy Schools Revolution, a virtual summit to be held online this October.


I’ve gathered 18 game-changing experts to share their exact steps for getting made-from-scratch meals on the lunch line, getting grass-fed beef added to their school’s menu, getting school gardens incorporated into the classroom and lunchroom, weaving physical activities into each class period and so much more.


Best of all, this solution-packed, resource-filled summit also includes an opportunity for schools and organizations to raise much-needed funds for implementing these great ideas. It’s a “Learn and Earn,” with half of each $10 registration fee going back directly to the participant’s school by Nov. 14 to help fund their own healthy-school initiatives.



From Oct. 6-31, summit participants will have exclusive online access to a series of video interviews where these difference-makers will share easy, inexpensive ways to provide better nutrition, more activity and a brighter future for America’s school kids. Experts and topics will include:

  • David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, will share free ABC (Activity Burst in the Classroom) Fitness Program that shows teachers how to incorporate physical activity into each class period, allowing students to release excess energy and attain better focus.
  • Noted chef, author and activist Ann Cooper, known as “The Renegade Lunch Lady,” will share how she navigated school policies and government regulations to incorporate grass-fed beef and other wholesome foods into her Colorado schools’ menu.
  • Educator Stephen Ritz , will show how to gets kids excited about fruits and vegetables by starting a school garden, where they grow their own food for the school cafeteria. Ritz has helped students in the Bronx grow more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables while substantially improving their academic performance and helping them earn a living wage and learn valuable life skills along the way.
  • American Fitness Index chair Walt Thompson describing how the After-School All-Stars nationwide program is getting Atlanta teens motivated to stay active and healthy.
  • Fiesty and powerful health and wellness pioneer Kathie Dolgin, aka High Voltage, who will share how she motivates inner-city teen girls to kick the sugar habit in her catchy program called Energy Up!


I’m urging all Nutri-Savvy readers to join the summit by clicking here. And if your school wants to become a Healthy Schools Revolution fund-raising partner, earning $5 to $23.50 for every participant they get to sign up, go to


From the time they’re babies until they leave the nest, our kids depend on us for healthy nutrition. I hope you’ll join me in this solution revolution to put the focus back on feeding America’s schoolchildren in the healthiest fashion possible. Fresh foods, sunshine and plenty of physical activities each day can change the course of history for your children.


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My Eco Lunchbox Three-in-One #Review

I was delighted to receive my Eco Lunchbox Three-in-One. The 3-piece set includes 2 layers (a top and bottom container) and a small snack-size container w/ lid that fits in the top compartment. It all assembles nicely with a lid and 2 side clasps. Not only is it attractive, it fits conveniently into a thermal lunch sack with plenty of room for a water bottle and icepack if needed.

What great timing as I’m currently planning my upcoming Parent’s Workshop at the Cheremoya Elementary School:

“Healthy Lunch Combos That ROCK!”NS fruit logo 3

(Translation: Your Kids Will Eat Them!)

And so, I’ve been taking note of the various lunch box combos I prepare for my twin girls to take to school. Some no-brainers and others with creative twists that aren’t too complex or sophisticated. These are 6-year-old twin girls! So while I was going to prep a lunch for them in this convenient set–up. I only have one Eco lunchbox set and they prefer to have many things the same, including their lunch containers (equality is easier to show when you use the same containers for both kids – lol!).

So while my girls enjoy their Fruit Pizza (protein/dairy fruit, whole grain) with carrots (veggies) and a string cheese (additional protein), this is what I’ll be having for lunch tomorrow. If you are a busy on-the-go mom and/or a working professional, here’s something you might enjoy, too. It fits nicely snug into the sleek, elegant Eco lunchbox.

eco tribento food inside 2

My heart-healthy combo includes:

  • Mini bite-sized bell pepper with cottage cheese and salsa (protein/dairy, veggies)
  • Baby carrots (veggies)
  • Cantaloupe, blueberries, blackberries and basil fruit salad (fruit)

And here it is all packed up, ready to put in the lunch box, so I can just grab and go! Ice pack included because I like to keep my food fresh, especially the fruit which is in the bottom compartment:

echo tribento assembled ready to pack

Here is what I love about this product:

  • It is eco-friendly.
  • It comes in a sleek, elegant design.
  • It is easy to assemble, open and close (That is, f you are physically big enough. I don’t think my tiny 6-year-olds’ wee hands can do this quite yet).
  • It has adequate-sized compartments with a smaller container ideal for smaller portions (also useful as a divider).
  • I can mix it up by simply using the two larger sized containers or all three (the bottom and top compartment + the small lidded one for the top, slightly larger compartment).

Here’s what I would love the Eco Lunchbox to include:

  • Leak-proof design: I’m not sure the design is leak-proof, however if you assemble your food items tightly and place bottom side down in lunch sack, it should be fine. Notice how tightly my bell pepper bites are packed (see pic of food combo above).
  • Salad Dressing and Dip containers: If it had a 1 oz sized lidded container, that would be perfect for salad dressings.  A 2-oz container option could be useful for dips.

eco lunchbox logo

I Love my Eco Lunchbox Three-in-one. Check it out and their other products here.

Disclaimer: While I was compensated with an Eco three-in-one lunch set for review, these are opinions are expressly my own.



And Just in case you wanted to see what my kids are eating:

fruit pizza sliced