Lacto Ovo vegeterians

Original Image by Meal Makeover Moms via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies


Lacto vegetarian (sometimes referred to as a lactarian; from the Latin root lact-, milk) diet is a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ghee, cream, and kefir, but excludes eggs. Furthermore, this term is used to describe a vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products. Many Hindu vegetarians are lacto-vegetarians who avoid eggs for religious reasons while continuing to eat dairy. The prefix “lacto” comes from the Latin word for milk

Some vegetarians eat a wide variety of foods that may include fish, eggs and even meat-based broths. Others are stricter and eat no animal products whatsoever, including honey and gelatin. Lacto vegetarians fall in the middle of the spectrum. They eat milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products, but they do not eat eggs or fish

The term “lacto vegetarian” comes from the Latin word lactis, meaning milk. Historically, many lacto vegetarians have followed religions that are widespread in the Far East, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, which incorporate nonviolence and respect for animals into their belief systems. In addition to avoiding meat, most lacto vegetarians avoid eggs because they are undeveloped embryos. A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats both eggs and dairy products.

Eating dairy products is the main factor that distinguishes lacto vegetarians from vegans. Lacto vegetarians eat milk and milk products, yogurt, cheese, butter and cream. However, they do not eat dairy products made with gelatin, such as some puddings and custards, because most gelatin contains pulverized animal hooves, bones or marrow. Lacto vegetarians also avoid dairy products containing animal-based rennet, a collection of enzymes that cheese-makers normally get from calves.

Additional foods that do not contain animal products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and plant-based proteins, make up the rest of a lacto vegetarian diet. Examples include citrus fruits, berries, root vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, wheat products, oats, corn, beans, legumes and soy products. According to the USDA, a lacto vegetarian diet that is balanced among all of those foods plus dairy items can help reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health problems.

Menu Plan

A lacto vegetarian menu plan can look a lot like a plan for a traditional vegetarian, but without the eggs. A sample breakfast might be oatmeal with milk and berries, a yogurt and granola parfait or a tofu vegetable scramble. Lacto vegetarian lunch options include a green salad with a side of tofu and fruit, meat-free chili or pasta with vegetables and olive oil. For dinner, lacto vegetarians might have a bean burrito, lentil soup with bread and salad or a vegetable curry with rice.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians may have higher blood cholesterol levels because of the eggs they eat, so choosing to follow a lacto vegetarian diet may improve heart health and encourage weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. According to a 2004 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” self-identified lacto vegetarian women have a lower risk of overweight and obesity than women who eat meat. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reports that all vegetarians tend to weigh less and consume fewer calories and fat grams than meat eaters.


Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread

IMG_9437By: Nikki Nies

I grew up collecting tin coffee cans from neighbors and friends.  I also have fond memories greasing the pans of coffee cans, with my mother finding these invisible crevices that I missed.  I still try to skip out on greasing pans when I can, using baking spray, but for this recipe, I’ll still grease a few coffee cans now and then for this scrumptious bread.  Yes, pumpkin is associated with fall flavors, but I’ve been meaning to use my last can of pumpkin puree and I have been craving pumpkin bread. So, join me in the festivities!

The best part about using tin coffee cans? The markings from the coffee cans make indentations on the cans, making it easier to cut the bread into individual slices. While, I try not to do too many substitutes while baking as it can ruin the integrity of the end product, if you don’t have corn oil on hand, using other similar vegetable oil substitutions work well in baking and salads (i.e. canola oil, safflower oil and/or peanut oil). Using olive oil instead of corn oil may not be the best as olive oil has a distinct taste that may overpower other ingredients.

This makes 3 loaves baked in 3 metal one-pound coffee cans.

Ingredients IMG_9438

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cups water

Mix all ingredients together, adding water last. Pour into 3 well greased and floured 1 pound coffee cans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cool for 30 minutes and then turn out. When cool, wrap in aluminum foil. Serve plain, with butter or cream cheese.

As you can see, this recipe is quite simple to make! How’d your loaves turn out? Thank you grandma for sharing this treat!

It’s an Egg-cellent Idea!

93935ddc76ee03c515d43e550bd86e02By: Nikki Nies

The topic of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has been driven into the ground quite nicely.  In addition, it’s a well known fact Santa Clause lives at the North Pole. Yet, the best breakfast options and how to make them are still up for discussion.  It’s not a coincidence that when impending storms are on hand people run to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs.  With that said, 9/10 homes have eggs on hand in their fridge, but can be hesitant to use due to the controversy its affect on cholesterol levels and inconsistent recommendations of egg intake.

While the yolks of eggs contain the cholesterol, that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from eggs.  In moderation, which means no more than seven eggs per week, having eggs can be advantageous and without concern of increased risk of heart disease*.  Furthermore, in comparison to sodium, trans fat and saturated fat found in the accompaniments of eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns and the oil used to deep fry the foods, the cholesterol content found in chicken eggs is minimal. Also, using cholesterol free eggs or egg whites, which doesn’t contain the yolk part of the egg is recommended.

It’s unfortunate eggs receive such a bad wrap! If one’s mindful of the quantity of eggs consumed, more positive attention can be directed to eggs beneficial nutrient content

So, whether you’re already at the recommended seven eggs a day, there’s no harm in mixing up how you make your eggs! While I’m a sunny side up kind of gal, I vow to try a different use of eggs!

Fun Ways to Eat Eggs:

Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
  • Omelettes, frittatas and quiches: Great way to get your daily recommended intake of vegetables,fruits and healthy oils
  • Hard Boiled: keeping a few hard boiled eggs on hand at all times is a great snack to take on the go; additionally can help cook eggs in advance in case of concerns of consumption prior to expiration date
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Mayo free egg salad. Can be eaten between two slices of bread, English muffin or as is!
  • Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner burrito: By adding eggs in a burrito filled with lean turkey, tomatoes and cheese, you’ll have your family asking for more! Also,make sure to add a spoonful of guacamole for extra flavor and texture!
  • Poached: by cooking in only water, it’s one of the healthiest ways to make eggs. You can’t beat the presentation either!
  • Deviled: many people put their own spin on deviled eggs.  Mix up the traditional recipe with curry powder, chopped celery and mayo!
  • Steamed (Chawan Mush): much easier than one would think, especially in clean up!
  • Egg Soup
  • Eggnog: doesn’t have to be designated to only December! Swap out the whip cream for a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Rolled Omelet (Tamagoyaki): A traditional Japanese way of frying eggs
  • Tea Eggs: A traditional Chinese snack, soak hard boiled eggs in a mixture of soy sauce and tea

What egg-cellent ways do you make eggs? What ways do you plan to incorporate eggs into your meals?

*Seven eggs may be too much for those with diabetes, with 186 mg of cholesterol per one large egg, this may significantly increase risk of heart disease.  It’s recommended that those with diabetes, heart disease and/or high cholesterol, cholesterol intake should not exceed 200 mg per day.  To translate, that means no more than 4-6 eggs per week!

Photo Credit: Pinterest 


Should I Stop Eating Eggs to Control Cholesterol? (Diet Myth 4)

Last Minute Christmas Meal Prep

10862700_10153070449640312_9052450153634395045_oBy: Nikki Nies

It can be a juggle to get everything done on your to-do-list on time-with home and work responsibilities taking over every extra minute. When holiday parties and expectations come around, at times it can feel like another chore, not a time of relaxation. Yet, by using a few ingredients that you have on hand, as you partake in the Pantry Challenge, holiday gatherings don’t have to be spent all day in the kitchen, but with loved ones!

While food allergies and preferences must be considered, there are some traditional dishes that must make it on the Christmas dinner table! SA6281

The great aspect of all the above recipes are that they are few ingredient recipes and not labor intensive. Lastly, if you’re feeling up to it, check out Real Simple’s Ultimate Christmas Checklist to ensure your house and family are as festive as can be! Have a happy and safe holiday!

Photo Credit: Eating Well 

green monster popsicles recipe

Danger[s] of Dentures

OlderAdults_225x207By: Nikki Nies

I recently finished up my long term care rotation at the DuPage Convalescent Center (DPCC) in Wheaton, IL. I’m not one to shy away from  helping the older adult population,but I didn’t know too much about what I’d be getting into prior to the rotation.  In the seven weeks that I was at this facility, I quickly became familiar with the facility’s philosophy and way of care.  It’s very telling that during care conferences,many of the residents families’ shared how appreciative they were of the care their loved ones were receiving at DPCC and how they could tell the employees didn’t think of their daily activities as part of just “a job.”

With that said, with the many quarterly, yearly and initial assessments I completed, it became clearer as the days passed that evaluation of one’s oral care, dental and swallowing and chewing impairment affected the resident’s ability to obtain and maintain adequate nutrition.  While dentures aka false teeth can be the solution to said issues, it’s important to keep your dentures and mouth consistently clean.  If you wear ill-fitted dentures for a prolonged time, it can lead to:

  • Gum and/or mouth irritation
  • Problems eating and/or speaking
  • Mouth infections

While with age, change comes, there are preventative ways you can make sure your dentures don’t contribute and/or exacerbate existing

  • Make sure to frequent the dentist as gums and bones will change and dentures won’t fit as well and your dentures will need to be adjusted
  • If you have trouble eating, don’t eat anything sticky, chew food slowly, take small bites of soft foods (i.e. eggs and yogurt) and chew foods using both sides of your mouth at the same time, which prevents dentures from moving forward or tipping
  • Use an adhesive to keep dentures in place and make them feel more secure
  • Unless dentist prescribes otherwise, do not sleep with your dentures in, especially after extraction and/or initial use of dentures
  • When holding dentures, stand over a water filled sink or place towel underneath dentures to protect in case dropped.
  • Clean dentures daily by soaking overnight with a denture cleaner and clean in the morning before putting them in your mouth
  • Use a special denture cleaning brush or soft bristled brush
  • Do not use toothpaste, bleach or powdered household cleaners as they are too abrasive
  • Clean and massage gums, tongue and roof of mouth daily prior to putting dentures.
  • Don’t use toothpicks as they can damage dentures

What denture hacks have you used to keep dentures in place? What troubles have you encountered with your dentures?

Photo Credit: Olmsted County and Dreamstime


What 100 Kcal Looks Like



Photo Credit: SparkPeople

Great Meals for One!

Handsome black man preparing salads in a modern kitchen.By: Nikki Nies

Several of my friends and family, including my parents, struggle with making meals that they can adequately eat since many of them are either not big eaters and/or would be cooking for one.  While I personally don’t struggle with making too many quantities of food as I love not having to cook every night, I can understand why the extra leftovers can be daunting.

In case you need tips on what to do with leftovers, you’re in luck! There’s tons of ways to reduce spoilage and to make your meals last longer.  However, if you need further incentive to get in the kitchen instead of opting for take out or a bowl of cereal, let me direct you to some worthwhile tips!

The best part of cooking for yourself? You get to eat what you want, how you want without any compromises!  Yes, there may be more freedom in the kitchen in terms of artistic creativity, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw out all you’ve learned regarding healthy cooking!

  • Utilize your muffin pan for more than just muffins! Whip up some rice and/or barley, making individualized portions using your muffin tin
  • Have leftover bread or English muffins? Wrap the leftovers up tightly in a sandwich bag to prevent freezer burn and/or use some of the leftover bread to make croutons or for dipping
  • Head to a bulk warehouse store, such as BJ’s, Sam’s Club or Costco and stock up to decrease waste and often times less expensive per pound.  Bulk produce is only worth the investment if the quantity is a realistic amount for you to consume before spoilage.
  • Opt for frozen fruits and veggies, which are often times more convenient and last longer than fresh food.  Make sure to choose frozen packages that do not have added sauces, syrup or sugar
  • Enjoy the more perishable produce, such as berries and spinach, earlier in the week.  Heartier produce such as carrots, cabbage and potatoes can be eaten later in the week
  • Make sure to always have eggs on hand! They’re a great addition to many dishes and contain a great amount of vitamin D and choline
  • Take the plunge and buy a whole package of meat and/or poultry, wrap in individual portions, date and freeze!

I’ve found the best part of cooking for myself is that I’ve gotten quite well acquainted with my freezer.  I don’t have to worry about rushing home to get dinner on the table, but when I make a casserole or have leftover soup, I can individually package the leftovers to get out for a later date.

For those of you cooking for yourselves, what tips have you found to make cooking hassle free?


Foodborne Illnesses

infographic-foodborne-disease-640By: Nikki Nies

Sanitation and food safety are two aspects that the food industry and restaurateurs are constantly reminded are important aspects of keeping loyal customers and sanitation boards at bay.  One of the biggest enemies to sanitation and food safety are the development of foodborne illnesses (aka food poisoning, foodborne infection and/or foodborne disease) in a food establishment.  Foodborne illnesses are due to consumption of contaminated food that is raw or undercooked. Annually, 1 in 6 Americans become sick from contaminated foods and beverages.

Foodborne illnesses can be deadly, figuratively and literally to a business, yet, they are preventable.  More than 250 different foodborne illnesses have been found to be due to bacteria, viruses and/or parasites.  With varying causes, symptoms and outcomes, prevention and treatment for foodborne illnesses require equal attention to other aspects of one’s restaurant or food business.

Pathogens cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths per year. Symptoms include, but are not limited to diarrhea, fever, dehydration, upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and/or vomiting that last from one to seven days.  Some examples include norovirus, listeriosis, salmonella, staph aureus, e. coli, campylobacter spp., -borne-illnesses

The best method to limit exposure to foodborne illnesses is to practice safe food handling, recognize food safety practices and correct others when you see “short cuts.”

Foods Associated with Foodborne Illnesses:

  • Raw fruits and vegetables can become contaminated when they intersect with animal waste when manure is used to fertilize produce in field or unclean water
  • Raw foods of animal origin (i.e. poultry, eggs, meat, unpasteurized milk, raw shellfish)
  • Raw sprouts due to the growing conditions are optimal for growing microbes
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices or ciders if there are pathogens on the fruit used to produce the juice or cider
  • Any food that has come in contact with a foodservice handler that is vomiting and has diarrhea.


There is no “one size fits all” treatment plan for foodborne illnesses, but often include increasing one’s fluid intake and seeking treatment from a primary cary physician (PCP). If there is severe diarrhea, Ceralyte, Pedialyte or Oralyte shoudl be consumed to replace lost electrolytes.  Use  of bismuth subsalicylate (aka Pepto Bismol) can also reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.

Have you personally experienced food poisoning?  What was your individual situation?  Was it due to poor food safety?


GF Baking Ingredient Breakdown

By: Nikki Nies gluten-free-baking-conversion-chart

I myself am not Gluten Free. Yet, I have several friends that are and as a future health professional, I ought to know at least the basics regarding gluten free products. I recently helped demo how to bake with gluten free products and would like to think I was able to show how tasty gluten free products can be!

While abstaining from gluten, a protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye, can sound restrictive, especially with some beloved sweets, it’s more than manageable!  One of the main properties of gluten, elasticity, seems to be quickly removed from gluten free foods, yet there’s been a lot of advancements in the use and production of gluten free baking products.

 Common Gluten Free Baking Ingredients:

  • Arrowroot powder:a starchy thickener, similar to corn starch
  • Cornmeal: A gritty, yet sweet addition to include in breads and muffins
  • Corn Starch: Often used in baking breads, cookies and cakes; make sure to get the GF brand
  • Flaxseed Meal: Great source of fiber and antioxidants; can be used in replacement of eggs to provide structure; can be frozen or refrigerated
  • Gelatin: increases the elasticity and strength of doughs; good source of protein
  • Gluten Free Flour: i.e. all purpose gluten free flour blend, garfava flour, almond flour,soy flour, teff flour, white rice flour,  coconut flour, bean flours, corn flour, millet flour, rice flour, potato flour, brown rice flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, buckewheat flour, sorghum flour and/or tapioca flour
  • Gluten Free Vanilla: All vanilla extracts are produced without gluten
  • Guar Gum: used as thickener and emulsifier; from seed native to tropical Asia; can have laxative effect
  • Xanthan Gum: used as thickener and emulsifier ; made by xanthomonas campestris organism

If product has Certified Gluten-Free label, you’re guaranteed to be buying 100% gluten free.

photo-1Since Bob’s Red Mill gluten free products are pretty accessible and mainstream, we used the flours from his line and used recipes that coincided with the flours.  While the chocolate chip cookies were most favored by the attendants of the cooking demo, I believe the fruit cobbler came out pretty well, with the ability to cater to different tastes depending on fruit used.  I burned the bottom of the brownies, at least I know for next time!

If you’re having trouble finding gluten free products at your local grocery store, check out,, and, which are sure to have what you need!

There’s so many variations to gluten free baking, to discover what recipes, ingredients and flavors work best for you, you may just have to keep testing recipes!