Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

By Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team


Banana bread is a favorite to bake, eat and share with friends; zucchini is also a favorite that has been abundant in farmer’s markets this summer. So, with some extra zucchini and slightly browning bananas on hand, I decided to combine these two for one hopefully yummy experiment, and it worked! This is an easy (and tasty) way to incorporate fruits and veggies into your little one’s or your own day. Mashing a ripe banana, measuring dry ingredients and mixing are all tasks perfect for getting kids involved in the kitchen!



 Yields ~15 muffins

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup milk

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup shredded (or made into noodles and then chopped*) zucchini

½ cup dark chocolate chips

¾ medium ripe banana, mashed

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg

½ tsp salt




  1. Preheat oven to 350F, and grease or line muffin tin.
  2. In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients of flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix beaten egg, oil, milk, mashed banana, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir wet ingredients into dry until incorporated and moistened.
  4. Prepare zucchini using a shredder or by spiralizing into thin noodles and then chopping into ¼ inch pieces, for similar effect. Measure your 1 cup of zucchini now. Wrap measured zucchini into paper towel and squeeze out excess water–there will be a lot of it.
  5. Fold zucchini and chocolate chips into rest of mixture. Pour to fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes.


Pork Chops and Apple Salad

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE


Straight from my Diabetes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook, I’m excited to share this recipe for refreshing pork chops and Apple salad. Perfect for the end of summer and upcoming apple season this fall!


For Apple Salad:

2 tbsp (30mL) balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp (15mL) Dijon mustard

2 apples, finely sliced, lengthwise

1 head Bibb lettuce, chopped

2 (500mL) cups spinach

1 stalk celery, sliced

1/2 onion sliced

1/4 cup (60mL) crumbled, reduced-fat blue cheese

For Pork Chops:

4 bone-in pork loin chops (each 6oz/175g)

1/8 tsp (.5mL) salt

1 tbsp (15mL) chopped, fresh thyme (or 1tsp/5g dried)

1 clove garlic, minced


For Apple Salad:

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and mustard. Add apples, lettuce, spinach, celery and onion. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with blue cheese, set aside.

For Pork Chops:

Season each pork chop with salt, thyme and garlic. Heat a large skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Cook the pork chops for 8 minutes, turning once or until lightly browned and a thermometer inserted in the center of the chop reads 145F and the juices run clear. Serve with the apple salad.


Salmon Summer Rolls


By Nutrition Student, Deanna Ronne and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

These light, refreshing, and nutritious summer rolls are simple and fun to make, easily packed for lunch, or stored for leftovers, and even your kids will love them! Try keeping them in the refrigerator and eating them cold after a long hot summer day. Packed with protein and healthy fats from salmon and avocado, this roll will satisfy your hunger without making you feel too full.1

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, Salmon has many health benefits. One omega-3 in particular, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is the brain’s favorite fatty acid. A diet rich in DHA is associated with improved learning abilities and disease prevention.2,3



  • rice paper wrapper (find them in the ethnic foods section of your health food store. I recommend brown rice)
  • carrots
  • avocado
  • cucumber
  • spinach/spring mix/ lettuce
  • salmon

Optional Sauce:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium)
  • 1 tbs honey
  • siracha sauce (to taste, 1 tbs for a mild sauce)

salmon roll


  1. In a bowl mix the soy sauce, honey, and siracha sauce. On medium heat, add the sauce to a pan with the salmon. Once cooked, set the salmon aside to cool off.
  2. Wet paper towels large enough to cover the bottom of your plate. Place a wrapper on the paper towel and dab it with another wet paper towel. (You don’t want to get the wrappers too wet, because they will break easily.)
  3. Place a handful of spinach in the middle of the wrapper and the rest of the ingredients on top.
  4. Wrap the roll: start by folding the shortest sides in. Fold the bottom up and roll up to the top.
  5. Enjoy! The optional sauce can also be used as a delicious dipping sauce.

salmon roll finished


  1. III, V. L. F., Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008.
  2. Kris-Etherton, P. M., Harris, W. S., & Appel, L. J. (2002). Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. circulation, 106(21), 2747-2757.
  3. Horrocks, L. A., & Yeo, Y. K. (1999). Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacological Research, 40(3), 211-225.


Coconut Almond Crunch Granola Bars

By Laura Cipullo RD, CDE and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team


From ready-made breakfasts to kids’ camp snacks, granola bars are a go-to choice for on-the-go moms and dads. What better way to enjoy granola bars, than making them yourself? They’re also a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen!

Time: 30 minutes cooking, 15 minutes cooling

Yields: 10 bars


  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup nut butter
  • ½ cup dried fruits (raisins, craisins, dried cherries)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Toast oats on baking pan for about 5 minutes, shake or stir the oats on the pan once or twice.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

3. Coarsely chop the almonds and place onto the pan with the shredded coconut and place in oven for about 8 minutes, the coconut will start to turn golden and have a light aroma.

4. While the nuts and coconut are in the oven, pour the honey and nut butter (I used creamy almond butter) into a small sauce pan on medium-low heat, stir occasionally.  Simmer the mixture for 3-5 minutes until it is a medium golden.

5. Remove honey and nut butter mix from heat and stir in oats, almonds and coconut.  The mixture may seem dry, but should be evenly coated.

6. Sprinkle in dried fruits (I used a mix of raisins, dried cherries and cranberries) at the end of mixing.

7. Pour whole mix onto parchment lined baking pan or 8 x 12 cake pan and spread evenly.

8. Compress the granola mix so that there are not any spaces (this will prevent your bars from falling apart when you cut them).  You can use the bottom of another pan covered in parchment paper to flatten out the mix.

9. Wait about 10-15 minutes for mixture to cool before cutting into 1 x 4in bars.

10. Store in air tight container and enjoy!

Fun Adaptation: This recipe also makes a yummy granola! Just crumble the mix after it cools or chop into smaller pieces for a fun yogurt topping!

Fresh Zucchini and Corn Cakes


Photo by Whole Foods
Photo by Whole Foods

Our Mommy friend, Danielle, and her little girl, Lucca love these zucchini and corn cakes from the Whole Foods recipe and we’re sure you will too!


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk or low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Kernels from 1 ear sweet corn (~3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil


In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper until smooth. Add corn, zucchini, onion, and stir until combined.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Working in batches, drop batter by scant 1/4 cup measures into skillet.  Cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side; lower heat if pancakes begin to brown too deeply before middle is cooked through.  Add more oil between batches if necessary.  Serve the pancakes warm or room temperature with crême fraîche.

Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Original recipe by Whole Foods can be found here.

What to Eat July 4th: Summer BBQ's

By Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Laura Fox

The Fourth of July is one of our favorite holidays as it brings family, friends, and neighbors together. And of course, it involves fun food! Below are some sure ways to keep things nutrient dense. Keep In mind , the best choice for you is the food the will both satisfy and satiate you and your family. Be self aware of your portion size with your hunger fullness cues.

With the help of Fox & Friends, we’ve compiled a variety of common entrees, condiments, dips, and desserts you’ll find at a BBQ this summer. We tested the hosts to see if they knew which food was the “healthiest” not necessarily the lowest in calories! Try and guess which option is chock full of nutrition, and we will explain why!

Hotdog Fox

Entrees: Cheeseburger with Chips vs. Hot Dog with chips vs. Turkey Burger with avocado and olives on the side:

Answer: Ground white turkey meat is key here!! Dark meat raises the saturated fat. The avocado and olives contain the heart helping monosaturated fats that we all need in our diet. And yes, the is a whole wheat bun higher in fiber to help eaters feel full.

Also, keep in mind 1 hot dog equals 1.5 oz of protein while a typical burger here in the USA is about 6 oz protein. Therefore 4 hot dogs equal 1 burger. Think about how many hot dogs fill you up.  Beaware the hot dog will contain more salt than the burger.

Condiments: Ketchup Vs. Mustard Vs. BBQ

When comparing condiments–even salad dressings–it is best to look at the ingredients list instead of the nutrition facts. Many ingredient lists still contain corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and or both. Mustard is 100% natural so preferable. The second preference is ketchup. Heinz now makes Organic Ketchup with no HFCS! .

libby's dip Fox

Dips: Onion Dip vs. Guacamole vs. Libby’s Veggie Dip

Our favorite choice here is Libby’s veggie dip. Laura’s boys are picky eaters and she is always looking for ways to incorporate veggies in their diets. We love the taste and texture of this dip and it is so easy to make! Don’t get us wrong, we also love guac too, for its high content of monounsaturated fats from avocados, however if you ate a burger with avocado, switch it up for some Libby veggie dip (we just learned this recipe last week at the Dishing With the Media event).

You can find the recipe for Libby’s Veggie Dip here. (Add link)

 potato salad cole slaw fox

Side Dishes: German Potato Salad Vs. Cole Slaw Vs. Veggie Slaw

Favorite choice is the easy veggie slaw made of raw veggies in white vinegar. Love yourself some fiber and antioxidants! German potato salad (red potatoes, spices, and olive oil) is a great choice but may feel to filling with all of the other holiday foods we consume on this day.

dessert fox

Desserts: Strawberry Shortcake Vs. Frozen Berry Banana Pops Vs. Italian Ice

Rich in antioxidants and naturally low in calories, the frozen berry pops are the healthiest of these choices. While italian ice is also low in calories, it is high in simple sugar but with no vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. Strawberry short cake contains the most calories, and saturated fat but is definitely yummy!!

Consider what foods you love, what your body is craving, and what will fill and satisfy you. The last thing a Mommy RD would recommend is to eat all the low cal foods and then have you go home to secretly eat the foods you deprived. This is also true for your kids. Have a happy and healthy day mentally, physically and spiritually!!

When choosing what to eat this weekend, remember all foods fit.  Food education can help you make food decisions. By understanding why some foods are higher in nutrition you have the opportunity for choice. And remember, the healthiest option isn’t always the lowest in calories, it is the most nutritious. However, if strawberry shortcake is your absolute favorite dessert, or you feel like Elisabeth Hasselback from Fox and Friends, who exclaimed, “I pick the Italian ice! It is my childhood favorite”, we say, go for it!

Have a wonderful 4th of July!


  1. Kris-Etherton, P. M., Pearson, T. A., Wan, Y., Hargrove, R. L., Moriarty, K., Fishell, V., & Etherton, T. D. (1999). High–monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(6), 1009-1015.
  2. German, J. B., & Dillard, C. J. (2004). Saturated fats: what dietary intake?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(3), 550-559.

Summer Fun Positive Food Activities: Make Your Own Muesli

Summer Fun Positive Food Activities: Make Your Own Muesli

By Nutrition Student, Deanna Ronne and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team

Now that the summer months are here, as a mom you’re probably lining up activities to keep your kids busy. Here’s a fun, creative, way to get your kids involved in making a nutritious breakfast or snack balanced with all three macronutrients – carbs, proteins, and fats. A trip to your grocery store, choosing their favorite ingredients, and mixing it may become a weekly pastime to cherish the entire year! Making your own muesli is affordable, easy, packable for day trip snacks, and flexible with the ingredients so perfect for picky kids and promoting the health.

Main Stream Breakfast Cereals

Many traditional breakfast cereals marketed at your children are made with refined grains, hidden sugars (like rice syrup, corn syrup, maltose and tapioca starch), and other “food additives.” Take a look at the “ready-to-eat”1 boxed cereal you have at home. Look at the Ingredients list, not the Nutrition Facts). Ingredients are listed in descending order, so if you see sugar listed as the first, second or third ingredient, just realize your cereal contains more sugar than any ingredients listed after it. This is cool with us, just use this as information. Know that this cereal is likely a low nutrient dense food (aka “Sometimes Food”) and is best eaten as a side to a sandwich at lunch or with a more filling food.

Also look to see what and how many ingredients there are. Many of the ingredients you don’t recognize, known as “food additives”, are meant to enhance the product’s texture, taste, appearance, nutritional quality or increase its shelf life.2 While fortifying cereal with vitamins and minerals improve the nutritional quality, other food additives like flavor enhancers (ex. artificial sweeteners) and preservatives (ex. sodium) generally do not. Most children’s cereals with refined grains are enriched with the vitamins and minerals lost during the refinement process.

The American Dietetic Association released a study in 2008 on the nutritional quality of children’s breakfast cereal showing that they are significantly higher energy, sodium, carbohydrate, and sugar, and significantly lower in fiber and protein than “non children’s cereal”.1

So consider buying cereal products that are for you, rather than kids! They are just as yummy but more nutrient dense. Most importantly, kids are incredibly active during the summer months, and need an energizing breakfast, that will fuel their days in the sun and keep their body clocks ticking.

Did you know?

Stronger cognitive benefits in breakfasts of oatmeal than for “ready-to-eat” breakfast cereals1.

Screen shot 2014-05-14 at 8.02.57 PM

The “Recipe”

There really isn’t a recipe, which makes this idea so fun! You and your kids get to pick the ingredients. Go to your grocery store (preferably one with a “­­­­bulk department”, like at Whole Foods) and let your kids fill a bag with a cereal base of oats, granola, etc. Then, let your kids to find the rest of the ingredients! The set-up of most bulk food sections much resembles a candy store, so your kids will love it.

Here are some ideas:

  •  Nuts/Seeds: Walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds
  • Grains: Millet, Oats, Cooked Wheat-berries
  • Dried fruit: raisins, cherries, dates, cranberries, shredded coconut (no added oils or sugar)
  • Optional: dark chocolate
  • Cinnamon: add cinnamon 1 tsp to 1 cup muesli.

Let your kids be creative with this recipe, even let each kid make their own! As long as the base of oats/granola makes up most of the cereal, the added ingredients should be entirely up to them (with your direction, of course). It is important that kids have a healthy relationship with food. Show them how excited you are to pick out nutritious ingredients for your own muesli, and they will get excited with you! Happy Eating.

Breakfast and Picky Eaters

Breakfast remains to be one of the most important meals of the day. If you are dealing with a picky eater who only wants to eat, say, Frosted Flakes for breakfast, it is okay. Most important is they eat something before they walk out the door. This is the same for Mom and Dad. While it is important to try new things with your kids, force-feeding doesn’t work. Instead practice exposure therapy, let them make their muesli with the main stream cereal if that helps them expand their nutrition repertoire.

  1. Schwartz, M. B., Vartanian, L. R., Wharton, C. M., & Brownell, K. D. (2008). Examining the nutritional quality of breakfast cereals marketed to children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(4), 702-705.
  2. “Global Food Additives Industry.” PR NewswireMar 19 2013. Web. 31 May 2015 .
  3. Bulk Foods Aisle in Grocery Store. N.d. “Photo Courtesy”, n.p.
  4. “Harvard University; Dietary Intake of Whole and Refined Grain Breakfast Cereals is Linked to Lower BMI in Men.” Lab Law Weekly (2006): 88. Web. 1 June 2015.


Bold and Fruity Chicken Tangine

Credit: Executive Chef Rachel Reuben, Food Fix Kitchen  

We wanted to share a recipe with you that was made at the Dishing with the Media Harvest Celebrations Event.  They featured some delicious recipes including Carrot Curry Kale Chips and Lemon Seed and Pepper Crusted Grilled Pork.  With summer right around the corner, we thought it would be great to share this Bold and Fruity Chicken Tangine recipe to get your mouths’ watering for the tasty food summer has to offer!


Bold and Fruity Chicken Tangine Picture
Makes 4 servings, or 8 pieces

8 chicken thighs with bones and skin
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed whole
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 strips fresh lemon peel
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch saffron threads
1/8 cup rosewater
¾ cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup pitted green olives
¼ cup dried pitted dates*
¼ cup dried apricots*
¼ cup dried figs*
1 whole wheat pita or other Middle Eastern flatbread, cut into thirds, warmed but not toasted
1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachios, optional for finishing
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional, for finishing

*Fruit Bliss’s apricots, prunes and figs are recommended

  1. Remove skin from thighs and reserve. Trim fat and reserve with skin. Partially debone for easy removal after cooking, (make cuts around bone but keep bone in place for cooking; bones will impart more flavor but we don’t want to serve with bones).
  2. Combine the cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika and cinnamon and season the spice blend with pepper and salt (keeping in mind that the olives will be adding an element of salt). Using a large bowl, sheet tray or zip bag, sprinkle the spice and seasoning mixture over the chicken and toss to coat evenly on all sides. Set aside in the refrigerator to infuse for 1 hour.
  3. Set a large Dutch oven or pressure cooker over medium-high heat and add a thin coating of vegetable oil. Add the chicken skins and fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until several tablespoons of liquid chicken fat have rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove skin and any solids from the pan, once browned and rendered, and discard.
  4. Using the rendered chicken fat, brown (2-3 minutes per side) the spice/seasoned chicken on both sides in batches, careful not to crowd the pan, and then transfer to a platter and hold aside. Add a little more oil to the pot, if needed, and sauté onions until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a minute until aromatic but not browned. Deglaze pan by adding rosewater and wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook at a boil for 1 minute. Add chicken stock. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the lemon peel, thyme, bay leaf, and saffron, if using. Bring to a boil.
  5. FOR CONVENTIONAL STOVETOP OR OVEN COOKING: Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cook until the chicken is very tender, 30 minutes longer on stovetop, or in a 400 oven for 45 minutes. Add fruit and olives to mixture, and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes. FOR PRESSURE COOKER COOKING: seal pressure cooker and bring to full pressure over medium-high heat. Once pressure is attained, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure, open cooker and add olives and fruit. Cover and bring to pressure once again, then remove from heat and allow pressure to release. Remove the thyme and bay leaf before serving. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and cilantro and serve.


This recipe and others are available on Dishing with the Media

Greek Turkey Burgers

Are you day dreaming of warmer weather?  If you are, we have the perfect recipe for you.  This is one of our favorites.  Put a new spin on Turkey Burgers with Dill Yogurt Dipping Sauce.  It’s a great way to get your kids to try new foods and an even better way to get your family to sit down for dinner together!

Photo Credit: amesis via Compfight cc


  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, minced (optional)

Serve with dill yogurt sauce:

  • I cup fage yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh minced dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon



  1.  Mix ground turkey, chick peas, fresh spinach, crumbled feta, salt, pepper, oregano, ground cumin, and fresh dill.
  2. Shape into patties.
  3. Cook in 1 tbsp olive oil on med-high heat for about 20 min, flipping half way.


Grilled Corn on the Cob

It’s no secret that corn on the cob is a summer staple. But what about grilled corn on the cob? Not only does it give the corn a different flavor, it also gives the corn a nice appearance. Try this recipe out with your families at your next summer event and let us know your variations!

Photo Credit: Another Pint Please… via Compfight cc


    • 8 ears corn, pull back husks
    • 2 tablespoons butter of choice
    • Optional toppings: black pepper, red pepper, a sprinkling of salt, lemon or lime juice



    1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
    2. Pull back the husks, leaving the husks on, remove the strings from the corn, and pull husks back over corn to cover. Place corn in a large pot or bowl and cover with water. Let stand for 30-45 minutes. Drain.
    3. Once drained, place corn on grill, and grill for 8 minutes on each side or until husks appear slightly blackened. Serve grilled corn with butter and toppings of choice.


This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light. To see more of Cooking Light’s corn recipes click here.