Guest Blog: Tasty Thanksgiving

November 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

tasty-thanksgiving-blog-bannerIt amazes me every year how quickly time goes by. It seems as if there are only a few weeks between summer and the holiday season. But just as last year and the year before, the holidays are among us once again. ‘Tis the season for busy schedules, so here are some tips to help make your Thanksgiving a little healthier, and even a little bit easier.

The Turkey

Let’s start with the main attraction, the turkey. Dark meat can have up to double the amount of fat as white meat, with a good amount of that coming from saturated fat, a fat that should be limited in the diet. Instead, try choosing turkey breast or other white meat without the skin, since the skin is loaded with saturated fat, too. Remember one serving of meat is 3 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards. When preparing (or even eating) your turkey, utilize herbs, spices, or no-salt added seasonings like Mrs. Dash to add flavor without adding sodium.

The Stuffing

You can’t have turkey without stuffing, can you? To be honest, stuffing really packs a punch when it comes to calories, fat, and sodium, but with a few quick changes, you’ll get all the flavor with more nutrition. Instead of your traditional white bread, try whole grain bread or wild/brown rice. Instead of butter, try adding flavor with low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and adding herbs and spices. Onions, garlic, and celery ramp up the flavor and introduce texture. If you like savory and sweet, chopping up apples or adding cranberries will do just the trick.

The Sides

Making a few simple swaps with your side dishes can make a big difference! A classic sweet potato casserole could spike your bloods sugars with about 40 grams of sugar per scoop (a little less than a can of Mountain Dew!). If you can’t go without, try serving yourself a smaller scoop, or cut back on the marshmallows, and opt for a few miniature ones on top while also reducing the brown sugar used. For green bean casserole, use no-salt added green beans, lower sodium versions of cream of mushroom soup, and add skim milk and less cream soup to improve nutrition.

AND, Dessert!

To me a holiday meal wouldn’t be complete without dessert. With that being said, it’s all about moderation. The best way to enjoy a treat is to not lose control and keep your sampling selection to only a few. One of my favorite tips is to share! Whether it’s with family or friends, try splitting your treat into two or three, so you get a taste without overeating. Sampling your favorite desserts in smaller portions is a way to have your favorite desserts. If you are looking for healthier options, try going for a crust-less pumpkin pie, a parfait, or even a piece of dark chocolate.

Don’t forget to stay active!

Whether you are sledding in the backyard, walking your dog, playing family football, or going to the gym, getting out and getting active is so important to health, especially during the holidays.

Overall, the best holiday tip and trick is… moderation. It’s easier said than done, but when you don’t deprive yourself, you find yourself enjoying family and friends and this season just a little bit more.


This is a guest post written by Emily Parent.

Emily graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in Dietetics. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she completed her dietetic internship through OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in central Illinois. As a registered and licensed dietitian for Coborn’s, Emily is based out of the Ramsey store and also offers support to Elk River, Big Lake and CobornsDelivers. In this position, Emily is responsible for providing dietary and nutritional information and assistance to guests. She facilitates health and nutrition seminars and cooking demonstrations, develops promotional materials, and facilitates the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System.

Guest Blog: Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

November 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

vitamin-d-blog-bannerIn the dark months of winter, many people in northern climates like Minnesota become deficient in vitamin D. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin D is 600 IU per day for children and most adults. Vitamin D is very important for bone health. Getting too little vitamin D can cause soft, brittle bones and increases the risk of rickets and osteoporosis. Vitamin D also has many other roles in our health such as affecting our immune system and the functioning of our nerves to send messages to the rest of the body.

Vitamin D is found in very few foods naturally. Foods that are naturally a good source of vitamin D include fatty fish (swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and salmon) and fish liver. There are small amounts in beef liver and egg yolks. You would need to eat 15 or more eggs daily to meet the RDA for Vitamin D! Most of the vitamin D we consume is from foods or beverages with added vitamin D. For example, cow’s milk in the United States is fortified with about 100 IU of vitamin D per cup. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This means it is best absorbed when consumed with a food or beverage that contains some fat. It also can be stored in the body for later use.

Vitamin D is a little different from other vitamins because it can also be made when sun rays hit our skin. There many factors that affect how well we absorb vitamin D from the rays of sunshine. One of the big ones is where you live and the time of year. During the winter in Minnesota, we are unlikely to turn the sun’s rays into vitamin D. This is mostly due to the angle of the sun, though cold temperatures and very little skin exposure don’t help. In the summer cloud cover, time of day, length of exposure, skin color, amount of skin exposed, and sunscreen all affect our ability to make vitamin D. Also, the D producing UV rays do not pass through glass, so sunbathing in through your window will not work!

vitamin-d-blog-kelly-krebsGetting enough vitamin D in the winter months can be tough. Here are tips to boost your vitamin D intake:

• Drink milk or vitamin D fortified dairy substitutes. Yogurt is also a good source, however cheese typically has little vitamin D.

• Look for foods fortified with vitamin D such as orange juice, margarine, and breakfast cereals.

• Eat fatty fish a few times per week

Unless you eat a lot of fatty fish, take cod liver oil, or drink 4-6 glasses of milk daily, you still might not get enough vitamin D during the winter. A supplement of 400-800 IU per day can help prevent vitamin D deficiency.

More information on vitamin D.


Katie KrebsThis is a guest blog by Katie Krebs

Katie is a pediatric Registered Dietitian with CentraCare, working with children and their parents in both a hospital and clinic setting.  Her passion for nutrition and health extends into her life outside of work. Katie enjoys active hobbies such as swimming or paddle boarding at the lake, riding horse, playing volleyball, camping, and outdoor adventures when traveling. She also enjoys cooking and trying new foods or recipes. She lives with her husband on a small hobby farm which is home to egg-laying chickens, horses, and a cat.

Guest Blog: 5 Reasons to Make the Jingle Bell Run a Family Tradition

October 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

2016-jingle-bell-run-bannerThe next Fit Kids Club event is the 19th annual Jingle Bell Run, which supports our area’s Toys for Tots program. In addition to the traditional 5K, the 1K Family Fun Run is perfect for all ages! Both will be held on November 19th (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) and will start at St. Cloud Orthopedics. Here are the five reasons why you and your family could adopt this yearly activity as a modern holiday tradition:

1) Support Your Community

All the money raised and toys donated will stay in the Central Minnesota area to help local families in need. The holiday season is a time for everyone to be thankful for what they have, and there’s no better way to kick-off the gift-giving season than by giving to our neighbors!

2) Bring the Family Together

Whole families love coming together for the annual Jingle Bell Run, and we love seeing how many groups return year after year to support this local cause.

3) Enjoy Outdoor Exercise, Minnesota-Style

Here’s an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors before entering into winter hibernation mode. The run is happening the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so while there’s always the chance for snow, we should be able to keep safe and warm as we actively experience the change of seasons.

4) Kick-Off The Holiday Season Right

Is there a better way to get into the holiday spirit than by giving gifts and running for a good cause? Plus, the 5K and 1K help keep healthy habits in mind as we begin to see more and more of the season’s sweet treats.

5) Set an Example

One of the best benefits of the Jingle Bell Run is the ability to teach kids the importance of giving. Our 1K Family Fun Run is designed to make it easy for the whole family to participate and do their part in helping the community. Let your kids pick out the toys, while the grown-ups take care of registration.

Registration Information:

Register online for the Jingle Bell 5K or 1K run or view the flyer and share with your friends & family! Those who register before November 6th are guaranteed an event T-shirt. Registration runs through race day on November 19th. For more details, visit the St. Cloud Orthopedics Jingle Bell page or give them a call at 320.202.5525.

Chad-RitterThis is a guest blog by Chad Ritter, MPT.

Chad Ritter, MPT, is a physical therapist at St. Cloud Orthopedics. He enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, who support the annual Jingle Bell Run and other youth athletic programs throughout the year.

Ghoulishly Good Halloween Dinner [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

ghoulishly-good-halloween-dinner-bannerHalloween is just around the corner! It’s a night of costumes and excitement, tricks and treats. But we know our little goblins can’t run all evening on candy alone. So before you head out into the dark of night, why not serve a meal that is hauntingly good, wickedly quick to prepare, and shockingly nutritious?

Try this cleverly creepy, kid-friendly menu to fuel up before a night of trick or treating fun.

Spooky Dinner Menu
Frankenstein’s Eyeballs and Brains
Witches’ Warts (Green Peas)
Jack O Lantern Fruit Plate (Recipe can be found on BLEND Pinterest page here)

Frankenstein’s Eyeballs and Brains
Green Pasta (I used Ronzoni Super Greens* enriched thin spaghetti)
Pasta sauce, any kind
String Cheese (approximately ½ stick per person)
Black olives
Drinking straw

1.  Slice string cheese about ¼” thick. Cut the olives in half lengthwise. Using the straw, press circles out of the center of the cheese slices, like a mini cookie cutter. Using the same straw, cut pieces out of the olives and place the pieces into cheese circles as pupils.

2.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Toss with a splash of olive oil to prevent sticking.

3.  Top with pasta sauce and sprinkle with eyeballs before serving.

*You’ll note the green pasta mentioned above. I went to the store in search of spinach pasta and was pleasantly surprised to find Ronzoni has a new product called SuperGreens. It is thin spaghetti enriched with spinach, zucchini, broccoli, parsley and kale. I had no idea this product even existed! It’s a perfectly ghoulish green color and tastes good as well. The only bummer is that this product is so new it doesn’t have a NuVal score yet. I’ll be sure and let you know in a future post when I find out what the score is for this product.

In searching for frightfully fun, non-candy treat options, I came across some wonderful ideas on Pinterest. Think Play-doh, glow sticks, lip balm and school supplies. Click here to see these spook-facular suggestions.

Wishing you and your little goblins a safe and healthy Halloween!

Kelly-Radi-232x300This is a guest blog written by Kelly Radi.

Passionate about food and nutrition, Kelly is a freelance writer, NuVal expert, former BLEND employee, and current BLEND advocate. A wife and mother of 2 teenagers, Kelly lives in Sartell where she is often spotted at Coborn’s scouring the shelves in search of the best NuVal scores. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, and sitting down with a good book. She can be reached at 

The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the writer and not the opinions of NuVal LLC, Coborn’s, Inc., BLEND, and the CentraCare Health Foundation. Read more “Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blogs here.

Eight Layer Fiesta Dip Cups [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

October 4, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

eight-layer-fiesta-dip-cups-blog-bannerSavory Sunday Snacks

With football season in full swing, I’m always searching for fun, satisfying Sunday afternoon snacking options. And as I tend to get lazy on cool, autumn Sunday afternoons, I like the snacks I make to be hearty enough to double as dinner, if necessary. Today, I’m going to share a dip option that can double as a snack or a lazy Sunday supper, but is also perfect for a party. These individually portioned snacks are especially great for get-togethers during cold and flu season as people can keep their germs to themselves. No double dipping here!

Build it By the Numbers

Essentially, this is the individual version of the go-to party platter of taco dip. Only better. It’s less messy and looks great! A big tray of individual fiesta dip cups makes a beautiful presentation at a party with a large bowl of chips on the side. To get started building the foundation of this dip, find yourself a can of refried beans. Unless, of course, you’re the type who makes your own. If that’s the case, go for it! Personally, I think the canned ones work well for this recipe. And they score fairly high on the NuVal scale, too. The brand I used today scored a 54. I like to kick up the flavor of the beans by mixing in some prepared taco seasoning. It doesn’t score so well on the NuVal scale (only a 1), but it does add a lot of flavor, so I choose to add only half of a packet. The second layer is my favorite. I heart guacamole! While my preference is to make my own guac from scratch, the store bought kinds work in this case, too. Wholly Guacamole brand has several varieties to choose from—chunky avocado is our favorite and it scores a whopping NuVal 88. The next layer is pretty self-explanatory: sour cream. Of course, you can choose between light (28) and regular (24). Then comes the salsa. With so many choices lining the supermarket shelves, keep it simple and use NuVal to pick out a jar. As the layers go, next up are cheese (25), tomato (100) and green onions (100). Lastly, you have a decision to make for the top layer: black olives, black beans or both. I tend to skip the black olives (4) and trade up to black beans (85). But you can do both. I won’t judge. That’s the beauty of NuVal. It’s not about limiting your choices—it’s all about helping you make educated choices in how you feed your family.

This dip is a wonderful example of how you can use NuVal to TRADE UP for ingredients with higher nutritional values. By comparing the beans, salsas, guacamole options and chips, you’re able to make nutritional decisions—at a glance—right at the supermarket. That’s how you can build a better bag of groceries and a more nutritious Sunday afternoon snack.

Wishing you relaxing Sunday afternoons, tasty snacks and good health!

Eight Layer Fiesta Dip Cups

8-10 (9 ounce) plastic tumblers
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1/2 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning
1 cup guacamole
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chunky salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar
1-2 tomatoes, diced
½ bunch of green onions, sliced
1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced olives, drained (optional)
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
tortilla chips

1.  In a small bowl mix taco seasoning (or cumin) with refried beans.

2.  Assemble layers in this order, using about 2 Tablespoons of each ingredient:

refried bean mixture
sour cream
green onions*
black beans or black olives*

3.  Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

*If making ahead of time, wait to add these toppings until shortly before serving. Store in the refrigerator until serving.


Kelly-Radi-232x300This is a guest blog written by Kelly Radi.

Passionate about food and nutrition, Kelly is a freelance writer, NuVal expert, former BLEND employee, and current BLEND advocate. A wife and mother of 2 teenagers, Kelly lives in Sartell where she is often spotted at Coborn’s scouring the shelves in search of the best NuVal scores. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, and sitting down with a good book. She can be reached at 

The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the writer and not the opinions of NuVal LLC, Coborn’s, Inc., BLEND, and the CentraCare Health Foundation. Read more “Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blogs here.

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