Looking for the perfect snack for your upcoming super bowl party or just a great between meal snack or appetizer? Hummus dip is the perfect solution. This dip is very tasty, filling and a nutritional superstar as well! Hummus is made from chick peas, better know as garbanzo beans. These beans are a great source of protein, fiber, thiamine, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Garbanzo beans have been a favorite food in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years and are increasingly popular here in the United States as well due to their ease of preparation and nutritional profile.

I happened to have some Greek yogurt in the refrigerator and some honey in my cupboard so I decided to experiment a little and add these ingredients to my hummus dip. Greek yogurt also adds a creamy texture to this recipe. Greek yogurt is a rich source of protein, calcium, potassium and Vitamin B 12. One of the many health benefits of Greek yogurt is the probiotics which it contains. The probiotics are healthy bacteria which help promote a healthy gut which in turn increase the amount of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.  Maintaing a healthy balance of these friendly forms of bacteria are beneficial for digestive issues.  My husband and I tend to like our food a little on the spicy side, so I also added some cumin and garlic powder. We taste tested the recipe,  liked the flavors and decided that it is a keeper.

Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1.5 cups
  • 15 oz can Garbanzo Beans, drained
  • 2 TB Lemon Juice
  • 2 TB Honey
  • ¼ cup Greek Nonfat Yogurt
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove dip from blender or food processor and refrigerate until serving time.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 TB Calories: 42 Fat: 0 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 8 grams Sodium: 107 mg Fiber: 1.5 grams Protein: 2 grams Cholesterol: 0 mg

You have probably enjoyed Hummus Dip with hot pita bread at your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant or picked up some at your local supermarket deli. This dip is very easy to prepare at home also. Serve it with a variety of options such as pita bread rounds, tortilla chips or an assortment of raw vegetables or fruit.


Greek Hummus Dip



Sweet potatoes originate from the morning glory family. They have a deep orange colored flesh and are shaped similar to a potato or sometimes are long and tapered at both ends. These vegetables are a nutritional champion due to the fact that they are packed with nutrients such as beta-carotene, potassium, and Vitamin B6. They are also a great source of fiber. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index, meaning that their carbohydrates are released more slowly in the bloodstream preventing a spike in blood sugar levels. My favorite asset of the sweet potato is its wonderful sweet taste. I love to bake them or pop them into my microwave for a quick side dish. I decided to mash them just like potatoes recently and loved this easy method of preparation and great taste. I have prepared the recipe without the brown sugar with just butter and pepper added for flavor. They taste delicious that way but I especially like the taste when I add either the brown sugar or maple syrup to add a sweeter flavor. My husband Jim likes the recipe version with the maple syrup added the best!

Sweet potatoes can also be roasted with other vegetables such as fresh carrots, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower or parsnips. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Add bite sized pieces of these types of vegetables, drizzle with a small amount of olive or canola oil and add  herbs and spices such as cracked pepper or one of your favorite varieties of Mrs. Dash spice blend. Roast in a 425- degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Sweet potatoes are also good in soups, homemade sweet potato fries or pies. Sweet potato pie is a favorite dessert in many southern states. The sweet potato fries can be easily prepared by first peeling your sweet potatoes and slicing them lengthwise into the shape of a french fry. Pour a small amount of olive or canola oil into a small bowl. Dip your fries into the oil. Season with salt, pepper or Mrs. Dash spice blend. Place the fries on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style

Autumn Menu of Sweet and Sour Pork Loin Chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style, Autumn Salad and Fall Fruit Fiesta


Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • four small or 3 large sweet potatoes or one medium sized butternut squash
  • 2 tsp butter, soft tub margarine or coconut oil
  • 3 TB chopped walnuts
  • 1 TB pure Maple Syrup
  1. Peel four small or 3 large sweet potatoes. Slice squash or sweet potatoes into 2 inch pieces. Place in a microwave safe container. Add ⅓ cup of water. Microwave for 6-9 minutes on high
  2. setting. (The time will vary dependent upon the wattage of your microwave.) Test sweet potatoes with a fork to ensure tenderness. Mash with a fork or potato masher to a soft consistency similar to mashed sweet potatoes Add 2 tsp butter, soft tub margarine or coconut oil. Add chopped walnuts and stir in until well combined. Lastly, add maple syrup and combine well before serving. Season with a dash of pepper.
If you decide to add the brown sugar or maple syrup, the nutritional content of the recipe per serving would be: 119 calories, 19 grams carbohydrate. all other nutritional content is the same. Count as 1 carb choice with or without the addition of brown sugar. The Splenda brown sugar substitute may also be used in place of brown sugar.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¾ cup Calories: 155 Fat: 7 grams Saturated fat: 1.5 grams Unsaturated fat: 5.5 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 19 Sodium: 30 mg Fiber: 3 grams Protein: 2 grams Cholesterol: 3 mg


My niece Maria, fellow food blogger

I would like to dedicate my my very first and second food and nutrition blog posts to my niece Maria who authors a food and nutrition blog concerning clean eating and Paleo diet friendly recipes called Maria Makes Muffins which I love to read. Her recipes are very healthy and delicious also!  Maria assisted me in designing my first blog post and taught me how to blog on Word Press. I would also like to dedicate this blog to the late Jo Anna Lund. Jo Anna authored the Healthy Exchanges recipe newsletter and many cookbooks over the years. She was a native of De Witt, Iowa and always said that her recipes were for “common folk”.  If the ingredients for her recipes could not be found in her small town grocery store, they would not appear in her newsletter. Her recipes were designed for people who were controlling their weight and others on special dietary restrictions such as carbohydrate controlled for diabetes, cholesterol restricted etc. She had a consultant registered dietitian calculate the exchanges, carb choices and other nutritional information.  Jo Anna became very successful and hosted a weekly radio show in De Witt and was featured in  national publications such as The New York times, People and Forbes.  Jo Anna offered health professionals a free subscription to her newsletters. I frequently shared the recipes from the newsletters and cookbooks with my patients when I was employed as an out-patient dietitian. Jo Anna passed away at age 61 in 2006 from invasive breast cancer. She has gone to her heavenly home now, but she is not forgotten!


the late JoAnna Lund, Healthy Exchanges Newsletter and cookbook author

The above photograph was featured in the Quad City Times in 2006.



Enjoying the Autumn splendor by Fountain Lake

Recipe type: Dessert or salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 small apples chopped and seeded
  • 2 cups red or green grapes
  • 2 kiwi peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh or canned unsweetened pineapple, drained
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts sliced almonds or pecans are good)
  • 6 TB Reddi Whip spray topping or 6 TB vanilla, nonfat yogurt, regular or no sugar added
  • 6 tsp ground flaxseed
  1. Combine the fruit and toss gently and refrigerate until serving time. At serving time, place fruit into an individual salad bowl or parfait glass. Top each serving with either 1
  2. TB of vanilla non-fat (and sugar free if desired) or 1 TB Reddi Whip. Sprinkle1 tsp .ground flaxseed over the topping. Garnish by adding one maraschino cherry on top of each parfait if desired..If you are a Milk Free Diet, substitute either soy or almond milk yogurt in place of the regular yogurt or Reddi Whip topping.
  3. Makes 6 servings:
  4. NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING: 137 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram protein, 22 grams carbohydrate, 5 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, fat, saturated fat and trans fat, 3 grams fiber, 1.5 carbohydrate choices
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ recipe Calories: 137 Fat: 3 grams Saturated fat: 0 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 22 grams Sodium: 5 mg Fiber: 3 grams Protein: 1 gram Cholesterol: 0 mg


Fall Fiesta Fruit Parfait


The Fall Fiesta Fruit Parfait completes my Awesome Autumn Menu. It is the perfect tasty, light and nutritious dessert. You certainly won’t feel guilty after eating this dessert!

We grow two of the fall fruits featured in the parfait above here in Minnesota. Many varieties of apples are available in apple orchards in our state during the fall months. Visiting an apple orchard and purchasing apples just picked off the tree is a favorite fall weekend activity here in Minnesota. The old welsh proverb “an apple a day will keep the doctor away” is so true. Apples are an excellent source of fiber and are rich in antioxidants and their peelings contain the flavoinoid Quercetin.  Quercetin can help reduce oxidation and inflammation of neurons according to studies conducted at the at the University of Quebec.  Researchers ar Cornell University conducted a study, published in the Journal of Food Science, which found evidence to suggest that apples may help protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity which could reduce the risk of developing disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Apples may also reduce the incidence of thrombotic strokes, diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer according to other medical research studies that were conducted. Apples are also very tasty as a snack and are good in recipes for cakes, muffins, fruit crisps and pies. One cup of chopped apples contains 65 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of protein, 0 grams fat, and 3 grams of fiber. Try to include approximately 25 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Different varieties of grapes are grown in Minnesota. We have several wineries here in southern Minnesota which process the grapes that they grow into wine. Red grapes contain resveratrol, which is a polyphenol antioxidant which provides anti-inflammatory and antiestrogenic properties. Resveratrol may also activate the enzymes of the liver that rid our bodies of unwanted chemical compounds according to the American Cancer Society. Resveratrol thus may play a role in preventing cancer as well as heart disease according to medical research studies that have taken place in recent years. One cup of grapes contains 104 calories, 27  grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 0 grams fat and 1 gram of protein. Grapes are a great snack or addition to fruit salads and other salads such as chopped chicken or turkey breast  combined with mayonnaise, water chestnuts, chopped green peppers and slivered almonds.

Friday, November 14 was World Diabetes Day and many educational programs for people with diabetes were offered by health professionals around the nation and world. The Fall Fruit Fiesta Parfait contains 22 grams of carbohydrate per serving and can be adjusted into a carbohydrate controlled meal plan for diabetes. It counts as 1 1/2 carbohydrate choices per serving. If you have further questions concerning adjustment of this recipe or my other recipes featured in the Awesome Autumn Menu, please contact your physician, certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian who prescribed your diabetes meal plan for you. I do not intend to provide medical advice in this food and nutrition blog but would like to offer suggestions for healthy foods and nutritious recipes that you can prepare for your meals and snacks.

The Fall Fruit Fiesta Parfait is topped with 1 tsp of ground flaxseed to offer a crunchy flavor. Ground flaxseed can be added to foods such as dry or cooked cereals, smoothies, yogurt, salads, pancakes and waffles. You can also add it to baked goods such as quick breads, muffins and cakes. Ground flaxseed is a good source of fiber, lignins and Omega-3 fatty acid. The antioxidant lignins bind with circulating substances that can promote unchecked cell growth, so they may actually help prevent some types of cancer. Flaxseeds contain 75 more times of lignins than most other plant foods. Two tablespooons of ground flaxseed contain 2400 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, 60 calories, 4.5 grams fat,  0.5 grams saturated fat,  3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 grams of trans fats, 0 mg cholesterol,  4 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of dietary fiber ( 3 grams insoluble fiber, 1 gram soluble fiber) and 3 grams of protein. Research studies suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against heart disease and can help harmful levels of LDL , the “bad” cholesterol drop, while the HDL or ” good” cholesterol remains the same. Flaxseed is a good source of soluble fiber also, which is thought to  offer protection against heart disease as well.


Awesome Autumn Menu

The awesome autumn menu includes Sweet and sour Pork Loin Chops, Mashed Sweet Potatoes Minnesota Style, Autumn Salad and Fall Fruit Fiesta Parfait. I had so much fun preparing for this meal. I found a favorite pretty tablecloth with strawberries, which are my favorite fruit. I had packed the tablecloth away in a drawer and had not used it in years. I also used some china table settings, fostoria salad plates and fostoria parfait glasses that had belonged to my grandmother. Of course, I had them displayed in my china cabinet, but I had to dust them off and wash them before setting the table. It is funny how we put away our good china and favorite tableware for “good” and end up using them twice a year. We need to celebrate our favorite treasures more and use them more frequently. It is amazing how much better a good meal tastes when it is served on the good china and with an attractively set table. It is fun and my husband enjoyed the dining experience much more as well! If you don’t get out to a restaurant for your weekly date night with your husband or romance interest, prepare a delicious meal together, get out the good china, turn on your favorite romantic music, light the candles and enjoy a glass of red wine or sparkling grape juice with your meal.  Bon Appetit!