Homemade Sugar Free Pudding

Homemade sugar-free pudding tastes just as delicious as its sugar-rich cousins. Make homemade sugar-free pudding with help from a professor at the University of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene and Boise, Idaho in this free video clip.



Rethinking Breakfast: It’s All in the Breakfast Bake

What image comes to mind when you hear the adage “Breakfast of Champions?” My husband’s reply was similar to many of our middle-aged friends: An amazing athlete eating a heaping bowl of flaked cereal.

The quintessential healthful breakfast is changing. While boxed cereals made their debut during World War II, dietitians and consumers alike are learning we’ve been missing the “antiaging boat” with our breakfast choices. Review of the literature and my own global longevity research supports a change to include dosing our protein throughout the day. Ingestion of approximately 25 to 30 g protein per meal maximally stimulates muscle protein synthesis in older individuals and can reduce the risks of sarcopenia. Research shows that muscle protein synthesis decreases when less than 20 g protein per meal are consumed. Centenarians interviewed during my qualitative research project conducted last year in Italy, Singapore, Japan, and the United States confirmed the benefits of a life-long habit of eating substantial protein at breakfast.

Since a typical American breakfast usually is lower in protein, how do we teach our clients to consume 25 to 30 g at this meal? The answer may be in a breakfast bake. Clients can make it ahead of time, cut it into individual portions, bring it to Sunday brunch, or freeze and reheat it.

Consider these hearty protein additions when counseling clients, several of which are featured in the example recipe below:

  • beans (whole or refried);
  • tofu or tempeh;
  • wheat germ;
  • nuts and seeds;
  • fish (eg, salmon, tuna, or light flavored fish);
  • ground chicken, turkey, buffalo, or other lean meat
  • eggs and egg substitutes;
  • cheeses;
  • plain Greek yogurt;
  • nonfat dry milk powder;
  • whey protein;
  • cottage cheese;
  • seitan;
  • edamame; or
  • hummus.

Whether you’re counseling an Olympic gymnast or a casual walker, the breakfast of champions should include a hefty dose of protein. So, unlike my husband’s description, my 17-year-old daughter says the breakfast of champions is, “breakfast I should eat to do really well in soccer today—like eggs, Greek yogurt with berries, and peanut butter toast.” Maybe she is listening!

Mediterranean Breakfast Bake

1 cup cooked potatoes or thawed (not frozen hash browns)
1 cup cooked beans of choice (pinto, black, soybeans, fava)
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 cup chopped spinach or arugula
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (variety of color is nice)
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups Egg Beaters (or equivalent) or 10 large eggs
1 cup chopped tomatoes or canned drained stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme, or 1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes, if desired
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly spray 9 X 9-in square baking dish. Add the potatoes and beans to the bottom and set aside.

2. Gently sauté onions and garlic in olive oil on stovetop. Add chopped greens, zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms, and sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Add vegetable mix to potatoes and beans.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs. Add tomatoes, herbs or Italian seasoning, chili pepper flakes, wheat germ, Greek yogurt or ricotta cheese, and salt and pepper, and mix lightly. Pour mixture over vegetables and beans. Top with grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, and shredded cheese of choice. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Cut into six pieces and serve with fresh arugula, olives, or basil garnish.

Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 295; Total carbohydrate: 26 g; Total fat: 9 g; Protein: 27 g; Sodium varies based on products used and salt added.

Souper Bowl – Play Harder, Live Longer

Submitted By: Sue Linja, RDN, LD

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and the food preparation begins. What’s on your menu….nachos or kielbasa? Chicken wings or meatballs? Soup?

Although soup doesn’t often show up on a Super Bowl menu, perhaps it should. Some experts support consumption of high volume foods to help control hunger. High volume foods are items with more fluid content such as soup and stews. Barbara Roll, PhD, nutrition researcher and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan, claims that people feel full because of the amount of food they eat, not the number of calories or grams of fat they consume. Her plan touts eating high volume, lower calorie foods including salads, whole fruits and soups to provide a feeling of fullness with less calories – ultimately resulting in weight loss.

Besides controlling hunger and keeping calories in check, soup may also help you live longer. Throughout the various cultures where large groups of people live into their second century, soup is often a staple. During our recent interview with the world-renowned Blue Zone Melis family from Sardinia, the oldest sister chanted to us, “Fagiolo, patata, fagiolo, patata….”, translating to “beans, potato, beans, potato”, the base of the soup their famous centenarian family ate every day of their lives. The soup would contain onion, garlic, beans, potatoes (sweet or any number of varieties) and whatever seasonal vegetables were available from the family garden. They might eat the soup for one or two meals a day. Additionally, a traditional Miso soup was commonly seen on the tables of centenarians interviewed in Japan and has been touted as being even better then the US traditional chicken noodle soup for what ails the body.

Including soup at your party table may help keep caloric consumption in line and help you see many super bowls to come. Super Bowl Sunday ranks #2 in the days of the year for overindulgence, right behind Thanksgiving. The average consumption of a Superbowl spectator this February is expected to be a whopping 4000 calories. This could equate to an added pound of body weight, especially if you are doing nothing but sitting on the couch for the day.

The ultimate comfort food, soup may not prevent rapid aging or cure the common cold, but it can pack a powerful nutritional punch. In addition to creating a feeling of fullness, soup is often a good way to increase fiber, vitamins, and minerals through the addition of vegetables and whole grains. Soup is easy to prepare, inexpensive and freezes well, making it a great food for busy families and the elderly.

Keep Your Bowl Healthy

Be Mindful of Sodium – Using soup bases, broths or consommé often adds unwanted sodium to your soup. Starting with a vegetable or meat stock made from fresh local foods helps to keep the sodium content low.

Add Superfoods – It’s easy to pack the pot with nutrients. Start with olive oil to sauté your onion then try adding dark greens, squash, beans and other dark colored vegetables and whole grains. Make a fish stew using vegetables and omega-3 rich salmon. You can even use ground flax as a thickener.

Trim the Fat – Cream soup without the cream? Why not? Try using lower fat milk, non-fat half and half or light sour cream for a lower calorie alternative. You can cut the fat and calories by more then 75% just by replacing the cream. If you like meat in your soup, use it sparingly as a flavor enhancer.

So, this Super Bowl Sunday, regardless of who wins, you can score some points and improve your health with one of these game winning recipes.

Spicy Bean, Sweet Potato and Kale Soup
The Centenarian Diet™

2 Tbsp Olive Oil 2 Cups Fava and/or White Beans, Cooked
1 Small Onion – Chopped 2 Cups Fresh Tomatoes – Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves – Minced 8 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock or Broth
3 Cups Kale – Chopped (Low Sodium for Salt Reduction)
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes – Cubed 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
3 Cups Kale – Chopped Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Fresh Oregano, Basil, Thyme (1 tsp if dried)
1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese – Finely Grated

In a soup pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients (except cheese) and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are soft – about 30-40 minutes. Serve in bowls and garnish with 1 Tbs cheese. Excellent served with crusted bread.

Nutritional Value: 1-1/2 cup serving contains approximately 180 calories, 8 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 260-700 mg sodium (based on stock used and salt added), 9 grams fiber

Buffalo Chicken Soup

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion – Diced
2 Garlic Cloves – Minced
3 Tbsp Ranch Seasoning
8 Cups Vegetable of Choice – Celery, Carrots, Cauliflower – Finely Chopped
2 Cups Cooked Cubed or Shredded Chicken (Rotisserie or BBQ works well)
8 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth or Stock
1 Cup Hot Sauce (Frank’s or your favorite – use less if you like less spice)
Garnish: Chopped Green Onions, Cilantro and Blue Cheese Crumbles

In a soup pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and cook over medium heat until slightly tender. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes. May add fat free sour cream to thicken or make into a cream soup. Serve hot in bowls – garnish with blue cheese, cilantro and green onions (optional)

Nutritional Value: 1-1/2 cup serving contains approximately 140 calories, 5 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 400-800 mg sodium (based on stock and hot sauce used), 3 grams fiber

Szechuan Style Tofu with Peanuts


  • 2 cups Jasmine Rice
  • 1 (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon ground fresh chile paste
  • 1 tablespoon less-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup fresh green beans
  • 1 (8-ounce) package fresh mushrooms – chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
  3. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray; broil 14 minutes or until golden.
  4. While tofu cooks, combine broth and next 4 ingredients (through black bean sauce), stirring with a whisk; set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salt and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until mushrooms begin to release liquid, stirring occasionally. Stir in carrots and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add broth mixture; cook 30 seconds or until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat; stir in tofu and onions. Serve over rice; sprinkle with peanuts.


Nutritional Information (Amount per serving)

Calories 389 Fat 14.3 g Satfat 2.1 g Monofat 5.5 g Polyfat 6.2 g Protein 17.2 g Carbohydrate 51.6 g Fiber 2.4 g Cholesterol 0.0 mg Iron 4 mg Sodium 619 mg Calcium 92 mg


Lessons Learned from Asian Cultures

Every spring I teach one of my favorite classes—Global Nutrition. It is the study of how other cultures value health, food and wellness. Asian diets and culture are one of my favorite sections because I believe they have an understanding to the keys to living a long and healthy life.

In many past columns I have mentioned “hara hachi bu”, which is the philosophy of eating until you are 80% full. This is a very important Asian belief for us to remember because it puts us in touch with our internal hunger and satiety cues rather than paying attention to the external cues like the amount of food on our plate or on the table.

Here is a new concept related to increased longevity and wellbeing to think about. What is your Ikigia? Roughly translated, ikigai means, “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.” Ikigai, is your sense of purpose and is a very personal experience that manifests itself in many ways. Ikigai can be your job, a person– like your children or your significant other or it can be your love of the outdoors, that new mountain bike or road bike that is sitting in your garage beaconing you for a ride. It could also be your garden or your kitchen where you love to spend hours creating new, healthy recipes. The child in me like to recall Piglet’s comment to Winnie the Pooh when he asks what is the first thing Pooh thinks of when he wakes up in the morning—HONEY! Honey might be construed as Pooh’s Ikigai.

Whatever it is, we know that there is great power in purpose. We see this in men and women in their 70’s who compete in triathlons or other athletic events. We see it in centenarians who are still harvesting foods from their gardens. Or those who love to travel at age 95 and learn about new clutures, food and flavors. And yet, for others, their purpose may remain hidden.  If you are unclear as to what your ikigai is, ask yourself these questions:

1) What kinds of activities and tasks most energize me at home and at work?

2) What do I love learning, reading or talking about?

3) What do I love doing so much that I would do it for free?

People with a strong sense of purpose have boosted immune systems.  They also enjoy lower stress hormones (such as cortisone which increases blood sugar), and are better able to deal with the difficulties that life throws their way. In general we can say that they are healthier.

So, the two lessons we can learn from Asian cultures for a long and healthy life are to eat mindfully by practicing hara hachi bu and find your ikigai!