Cottage Cheese Filled Dates

Image by David R. Blume

By: Nikki Nies

Whenever you’re pairing foods, you want to make sure they have the right balance of sweet and savory. The overpowering of one ingredient can lead to the

For as little in size that dates are, they’re nutrition powerhouses, containing fiber, the antioxidant tannins, beta carotene, vitamin A, potassium and iron. While the peanut butter stuffed dates trend has been going around, I’ve been trying to incorporate more cottage cheese into my meals as it is great to pair with savory or sweet foods. Pairing dates and cottage cheese is a great way to maintain protein content, but the added benefit of cottage cheese’s healthy fats. While low in calories, cottage cheese and dates are great spin on the traditional peanut butter stuffed dates.


  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 5 dates
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Sprinkle of  cinnamon


Slice dates lengthwise, stuff with cottage             cheese. Drizzle honey and sprinkle cinnamon on top of each date. Eat up!

What additional toppings would you add to this easy, delectable snack?


Health Benefits of Dates – Promoting Heart, Brain, and Digestive Health

Adopt Private Mind Tricks

portion-chartBy: Nikki Nies

While the words portion control, calorie counting and “mindfulness” are regularly thrown around as necessarily components of weight loss.  Unfortunately, there’s often times a discrepancy in the information provided to the public and what information the public retains and understands when temptation confronts them. In addition, when environmental bias cues bias one’s feeling of satiation, the task can become even more challenging.

Rule of thumb strategies, technically known as “heuristics,” create for ourselves — such as not spending more than $15 on an item of baby clothing, or more than $50 on a pair of shoes — can help simplify the daily choices we make. Behavioral economists believe that adopting good heuristics can help one develop sound habits.  In terms of nutrition, these habits can be healthier.

For instance, most people know that eating an apple is better than eating a slice of cake and that eating a slice of cake is better than eating two slices of cake.  With many restaurants, movie theatres and grocery stores now providing nutrition fact labels to consumers, it does not appear that consumers need more nutrition information, but perhaps, better heuristics to help develop bias towards eating less unhealthy foods.

Such rules could offset irrational tendencies, as found by studies led by Brian Wansink.  In a pilot study consisting of 1000 participants from a weight loss website were randomly assigned three small behavior changes over a three month period.  The results found the weight loss ranged from a 1.93-pound monthly weight loss (e.g., use ten-inch plates for dinner) to a 0.83-pound monthly weight gain (eat oatmeal for breakfast), the average heuristic resulted in an average weight loss—1.16 pounds per month per person.  The most effective heuristic was found to entail little decision making, such as the use of smaller plates and/or eating in the kitchen versus in front of the TV.

Less restrictive interventions are also found to be more effective to implement long term, such as the consumption of hot breakfasts instead of more restrictive heuristics, such as specifying one eats oatmeal for breakfast.  Additionally, by weighing the effectiveness of an intervention by compliance and estimated weight loss may increase compliance and make overall healthier food choices.

The use of heuristics can be a great way to integrate small, modifiable changes to one’s lifestyle, while increasing likelihood of long term implementation that gives clients the autonomy to adapt changes to preferences and lifestyle. What heuristic strategies have you found to be most successful? What do you hope to incorporate into your life?

Photo Credit: Diabeter


Food & Nutrition Magazine

food-nutrition-mag-logoBy: Nikki Nies

Are you a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)? AND is the largest American organization of food and nutrition professionals. If so, do you actively read their published Food & Nutrition Magazine? It’s a fantastic, evidence based bi monthly magazine that is created and written by Registered Dietitians Nutritionists (RDNs) for RDNs.

This magazine has a plethora of information, everything from food related movie reviews to a list of RDN-Approved Desserts to the exploration of the latest food trendsIMG_8456

Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Blog, Stone Soup, is a guest blog written by members of AND. Some of the latest posts include Shaved Carrot and Fennel Salad, how to get ready for National Kiwifruit Day and  Winter Running Essentials.

I’m a huge fan of Food & Nutrition magazine due to their immaculate content, collaborative efforts and last, but not least, their dazzling pictures. If you’re a fan of the magazine, why not try your hand at becoming more involved in the production and creation of the magazine? To pitch a story,  Food & Nutrition Magazine welcomes engaging, dynamic journalism about food and food trends, innovations in research and practice, and explorations of the cultural and social factors that shape Americans’ diets and health.

Photo Credit: Food & Nutrition Magazine

Low Cholesterol Diet

By: Nikki Niesshutterstock_57921664

While it’s been pounded into our heads the notion of “good” vs. “bad” fats, we shouldn’t overlook such labels as they’re for valid measure.  Yes, fats can be used as a type of energy source for the body, but it’s the primary source of the energy and like any subject matter, too much is harmful.  In regards to our bodies, too much fat has a direct correlation with one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke. Old news, right?

Fat intake’s contribution to cardiovascular disease(s) may be old news, but why does our society struggle with that news? peppers-betaPerhaps, you need a fresh thought on the concepts.  Not keen on the guidelines for a low cholesterol diet? Limit cholesterol, duh! Yet, there’s more to it than that.  Actually, there’s two tiers of the cholesterol diet, which was created by the National Cholesterol education Program (NCeP).  The two low cholesterol guidelines continue to emphasize: low sodium, decreased total fat and saturated fat, decreased dietary cholesterol, increased fiber and complex carbs and decreased energy intake to obtain and/or maintain a healthy body weight.

I’m not a fan of the word “diet”, but that’s how dietary guidelines are phrased.  Therefore, Step 1 is composed of dietary changes to reduce cholesterol levels for those over the age of 2.  Step 2 of the cholesterol diet consists of more stringent limitations and is more appropriate for those with a current and/or past heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol or evidence of atherosclerosis–clog in arteries.

Photo Credit:Disease Proof and Women’s Fitness UK


Best Coffee Cities

gallery-full-roasterBy: Nikki Nies

There’s often controversy over whether coffee is good for you or not.  While critics sort that out, I’m going to go with the “innocent” until proven guilty theory in regards to the benefits of coffee since I owe a lot of my own sanity to the carafes of coffee over the years! With that said, I’m definitely more particular about my coffee than let’s say the brand of garbage bags I choose.

Thankfully, my trusty Time magazine has come out with a new list of Best Coffee Cities!  Take a look below at the list: 12bcbf7b654e9a9272d3374d2e8efe12

  1. Portland, Oregon with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Coava and Water Avenue Coffee : This city has again topped the list of “best coffee” due to it’s vibrant variety of coffees.  Stumptown Coffee Roasters has thankfully expanded beyond Oregon.  While, Coava is a single origin roaster and Water Avenue Coffee offers $1 sidecar shot espressos.
  2. Seattle, Washington with Slate Coffee Roasters or Convoy Coffee, which  offers  bike-powered coffee cart with pour-overs, AeroPress, and iced coffee. Or check out the interactive Starbucks Reserve and Roastery and Tasting Room!
  3. Providence, Rhode Island with sweet “coffee milk” found at Dave’s Coffee.
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico with its local flavor found at New Mexico Pinon Coffee Company.  Short coffee history classes, cupping and roasting demos are offered weekly or check out Golden Crown Panaderia, where one can indulge in a Coffee Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and espresso!
  5. Houston, Texas with Siphon Coffee‘s offering of vacuum prepared coffees.  Or head over to the Revival Market that sells Houston based roaster Greenway.

After going through this list, what city is missing from the list? Yes, “best” is subjective, but what’re some non negotiable parameters you use when opting for different coffee flavors?

Photo Credit:The Roasterie and Pinterest 


Downfall of “Ideal” Weight

I-determine-my-own-ideal-bodyBy: Nikki Nies

Neologists are people that help coin, create and/or make new words.  I’m sure when the neologists were formulating the word”ideal”, they couldn’t have predicted the self esteem, body image and insecurities that stem from ideal when paired with the word “body weight.”  In a society, where one’s undeniably critiqued, judged and perceived based on outward appearance, it’s unfortunate that three little words–ideal body weight (IBW) are given so much power.

The dictionary’s definition of:

satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable

The dictionary definition of ideal has the word perfect in it.  As we all know, perfection is unattainable.  Can the odds be more stacked against us?

Advocates of IBW may argue that replacement of the word “ideal” with “optimal”, “excellent”, “desired” and/or “perfect” would cause the same stymie to the human psyche.  However, I would argue that you’ve have missed the point of my post.

Can we go back to “healthy” weights? We need to focus on weights that are more “suitable” for people based on body frame, history and family genetics. Where being healthy is celebrated and where weight is just a number, not a dictator?

Photo Credit:ricerca correlati


Five Things You’re Getting Wrong About Weight and Weight Loss

7-11 Healthy Options Trial

140929TonyBy: Nikki Nies

7-11 may be known for slurpees, but with the help of Tony Horton, the founder of P90X, 7-11 is rolling out “healthier” options to 104 of their flagship stores in Los, Angeles, California.  Not familiar with Tony Horton, perhaps, you’ve heard of P90X, which advertises its ability to change one’s body with intense workouts over a 3 month period.  Such promises for a dramatic body transformation is questionable, yet I’m willing to listen.  The line of healthier products will be distributed through the Tony Horton Kitchen (THK).

While, my initial reaction to 7 Eleven’s new health announcement was “glee”, I wish there was a registered dietitian attached to this project.  By no means am I snubbing Tony Horton, but it’d be great to have a certified food expert part of the conversation.  With that said, I’m still willing to read through what 7-11 has to offer as I want to encourage and applaud those making efforts to a healthier America.

7-11 will be offering:3020110–inline–cs7eleven04


  • Grilled Chicken with Blueberry Mustard on whole grain sub
  • Stacked Roasted Turkey Breast on whole grain flat bun
  • Salads
  • Spicy Quinoa Salad with Chimichurri Dressing
  • Curried Chicken Salad with Pomegranate Raita Dressing


  • Golden Roasted Turkey Breast Wrap with Chipotle Black Bean Hummus
  • Spicy Black Bean Hummus & Vegetables Wrap

Cold Pressed Juices [or High Pressure Pasteurized]

  • Apple, celery, beet, ginger, parsley, spinach, lemon
  • Apple, coconut water, lime, mint
  • Celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, lime, lemon, wheat grass, clover sprouts
  • Carrot, apple, celery, lemon, beet, spinach, lime, parsley, ginger

For those in CA that have had the opportunity to try 7-11’s healthier options, what’re your thoughts? How’s the taste for the value? Is the food fresh?

Photo Credit:Red Peak Group and 7-11