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Nutrition Tip of the Week

Nutrition Tip of The Week

Below are nutrition tips for the current year. They are updated on a weekly basis. If you would like to see nutrition tips from previous years check out our archives to the left.

November 2017

Week of November 6

Winter Squash...a Fall Favorite!

Featuring fall produce like winter squash (pumpkin, acorn squash, etc.) is a healthy way to save money while offering maximum flavor. According to the USDA's ChooseMyPlate website, including squash as part of a regular diet may reduce your risk of developing certain chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, obesity and type-2 diabetes. Since it is rich in potassium, squash may also lower high blood pressure, reduce your risk of developing kidney stones and prevent bone loss. Squash is also naturally low in calories which can to help you achieve and/or maintain a healthy body weight.

Winter squash can be added to your menu in a variety of ways.

  • Incorporate pumpkin by adding it to your favorite baked good recipes instead of oil. Fresh pumpkin pureed with water or canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) can be used in a 1:1 ratio instead of oil. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil, use 1/2 cup pumpkin instead.
  • Fold canned pumpkin with fat free whipped topping and enjoy alone as a creamy dessert or paired with angel food cake.
  • Swap pasta noodles for spaghetti squash. Simply cut a whole spaghetti squash in quarters, pour 1/4 cup water in a microwave-safe dish, place squash cut-side down in dish, and microwave for 7-10 minutes or until soft. Simply remove the "noodles" with a fork and enjoy! (Source: Hungry Girl)

Oven-Roasted Squash with Garlic and Parsley

10 servings, about 3/4 cup each | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour


  • 5 pounds winter squash (such as butternut, buttercup, kabocha or hubbard), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Toss squash with 4 teaspoons oil, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender throughout and lightly browned, 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the variety of squash).
  3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Toss the roasted squash with the garlic and parsley. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.


104 Calories; 3 g Fat; 0 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 21 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 357 mg Sodium; 555 mg Potassium

1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fat

Nutrition Note: Vitamin A (430% daily value), Vitamin C (50% dv), Potassium (16% dv).

Source: EatingWell

October 2017

Week of October 30

Happy Halloween Tips!

Halloween week is finally here! Between costume parties, trunk or treating it's important to prepare by making mindful choices and planning out some fun activities to take your mind off candy. Let's explore some other strategies to think about for the day, especially if you have any food-related events planned.

  • Don't forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and functioning at your best. Aim for 64-80 fluid ounces (around 8-10 cups) for the whole day.
  • Before the party or event, make sure to eat a snack high in protein and fiber before you leave so that you won't feel extra hungry. Try Greek yogurt with a few slivered almonds; a string cheese stick with some whole grain crackers or apple slices; hummus with veggie sticks or whole grain pita bread; or even a piece of fruit with a tablespoon of nut butter. Get creative!
  • At the party or other event, choose lower-calorie options if possible. Avoid fried, oily, and sugary foods and choose grilled, steamed, broth-based, etc., options if you can. Choose low-calorie beverages as well, like water and unsweetened or artificially sweetened tea; or limit your sweetened beverage to one cup only.
  • But, do feel free to pick one or two special treats to enjoy at the party. Choose carefully, and you won't derail your diet. Make sure to savor that treat like you mean it!
  • If you aren't going to a party or event and are just staying at home passing out candy, you can still follow the same strategies mentioned above and enjoy a treat or two at home.
  • Also if you're passing out candy, don't keep the candy bowl or bags in plain sight all day -- hide them in a place you won't be looking at constantly and take them out only when the trick or treaters start coming to your door.
  • If you're in between busy trick or treat times, find something else to do rather than staring at the candy. Try reading a book, listening to music, cleaning, or doing another project while you wait for the other costumed kids to arrive.
  • Planning ahead with these tips can help you enjoy the day even more.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Week of October 23

Water Intake

Even though the temperature is decreasing, we still need to focus on our water intake!

Did you know?

According to studies from the CDC, (from 2005-2010), U.S. youth drank an average of ONLY 15 ounces of water and U.S. adults drank an average of ONLY 39 ounces of water on a given day.

At a minimum, try and consume 64-80 oz. of water per day. This number should increase if you are exercising (add 16 oz. for every 30 minutes), if the weather is very hot or humid, or if you have consumed a high salt meal.

Want to sip on a flavored drink? Try one of these instead.

  • Crystal Light
  • Sobe Life Water
  • Vitamin Water Zero
  • Sugar free teas (Diet Liptons)
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Water with cut up slices of lemon, strawberries, cucumbers or oranges

Here are some of my favorite water bottles with trackers to help you keep track of your intake!

  1. Aqua Tally Cup - Keep count of how many cups you are drinking a day with a counter on the cup. And the bonus, the glass stays cold for a very long time. Kelly's go-to water cup!
  2. Hidrate Spark - Sensor comes in the water bottle and is connected to an app on your phone so it keeps track of how many ounces of water to drink a day. It also starts to glow if you are behind schedule!
  3. Ulla Tracker - Simply attach Ulla to any bottle or glass -- it knows when you drink and blinks when you forget!

Happy Drinking!

Week of October 16

Healthy Fall Snacks

Try some of my fall favorites this October! Great for snacks!

  • Pumpkin peanut butter dip for apples
    • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
    • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I use Splenda)
    • 1/4 cup smooth peanut or almond butter
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds: Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and add a layer of pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle the seeds with a dash of sea salt, and then roast them at 325 F for about 25 minutes, or until toasted.
  • Popcorn: Place kernels in paper lunch bag, spray with olive oil cooking spray, fold down top of bag two times and microwave on popcorn setting. Add some fall spices to spruce your popcorn up! (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger).
  • Honey Crisp apple and slice of cheese
  • Thomas' Pumpkin Spice English Muffins with natural almond butter or peanut butter. Try to limit the topping to one tablespoon.

For nutrition/exercise questions or for more tip ideas, email Kelly at:

Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN, CPT

Devine Nutrition

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Week of October 9

Pasta Time!

Pasta has been getting a bad rap in the past few years ever since the diet fads of Atkins, paleo and gluten free have swept the nation. But can pasta be healthy? Yes of course! Pasta (in correct portion) can be high in fiber and a great source of energy.

Pasta is a great week night menu option because a) It's cheap! And b) It's quick! Two things I love for weeknight dinners! Below are some ways to whip up a quick, HEALTHY pasta meal!


Pasta: Whole grain pasta (There are vegetable pastas now, gluten-free options, etc.)

Sauce: Jar of pasta sauce (Aim to buy the one with the least amount of sugar or use a pesto sauce

Veggie side: I often add broccoli to my pasta but adding a side salad or fresh green beans works too!

Meat: Go meatless for a cheaper meal, or add ground sirloin or turkey meat to sauce, or Jenny-O Sweet Italian turkey sausage. (I brown it the night before with some green peppers and onions for a quicker meal the next day after work!)

One pot recipes are PERFECT for week night. Less clean up and they are delish. Here is one I found that my whole family enjoyed.

One Pan Lemon Chicken Pasta with Tomatoes (Adapted from Martha Stewart)


  • 1 pound chicken breasts (can omit if wanted)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 8 oz. (about 2 1/2 cups) small, dry pasta
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Juice from one large or two small lemons
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy foods)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and stir, cooking until soft and nearly translucent.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add chicken and cook until just browned.
  5. Stir in the pasta, tomatoes, chicken broth, lemon juice, water, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and continue to stir often, uncovered, for about nine minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Remove from heat, sprinkle cheese on top, and cover for ten minutes or until cheese is melted and remaining liquid is absorbed.

(Halve the recipe if you don't need as much or jar the leftovers !)

Kelly Devine Rickert M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN

Week of October 2

Dinner Ideas

The age old question...what's for dinner?

In the last 11 years as a Registered Dietitian, I have noticed that the one meal a day people struggle with the most is dinner.

Here are some of the common reasons people give me for not eating dinner at home:

  • no time
  • rushing around with work and kids
  • don't want to just cook for 1 or 2 people
  • don't know how to cook
  • too many picky eaters at home...and many more.

But the fact is, it is MUCH LESS expensive and MORE healthy to eat at home than anywhere else. If you sit down once a week and plan your dinner meals you are more likely to stick to your menu, decreasing any chance of you ordering last-minute take out food.

Not only is it less expensive to eat at home but it also has some other great benefits as well!

  • You consume less sodium, fat, sugar and overall calories when eating at home.
  • Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children.
  • Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs in preteens and teens ages 11 to 18.
  • Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals and a positive atmosphere during those meals are less likely to develop eating disorders.
  • Children who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly good grades in school than children who have two or fewer family dinners a week.
  • Dinner with family can be a stress reliever. Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.

Check out this great weekly meal planner to help you!

Tips for dinner meal planning:

  1. Sit down once a week with your calendar to see what nights you will be at home to make dinner and what evenings you need to have something quick and easy to go (grilled chicken wraps with fruit)!
  2. Shop the sale ads on the weekends to plan which protein's you will have that week with dinner.
  3. Start with your protein first, then figure out your sides (add a whole grain starch and some veggies to each dinner).

Happy planning!

September 2017

Week of September 25

Lighten up YOUR favorite fall drink...Pumpkin Spice Latte!

But keep in mind...just because pumpkin is a vegetable, does not mean that product or food is necessarily healthy!

Example: A grande pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks will net you 380 calories, 14 grams fat and 52 grams of carbohydrate (50 grams of sugar!). NOT GOOD!

Here are some ways to lighten up your latte:

  • Opt for skim milk instead of 2% or whole
  • Skip the whip
  • Get a short (or at least a tall) instead of grande

With all those changes you are down to 130 calories and 0 grams of fat (For the short size). (Still not something to drink daily with all the sugar!)

Foods you can add pumpkin spice to for some added fall flavor! (Purchase a jar at your local store.)

Sprinkle in:

  • Muffins or cookies
  • Brummel and Brown butter (mix with seasoning and add to toasted whole grain toast)
  • Popcorn
  • Oatmeal with nuts and half apple
  • Butternut squash baked in oven
  • Greek yogurt
  • Into hot cider or hot chocolate!

(Hungry yet? I am!)

Week of September 18

Race Day Nutrition!

Here are some tips for race day. Good luck to everyone running the Cougar 5K!


  • Drink plenty of water the day before and night of the race
  • Skip the sodas the night before
  • Drink at least 2 cups of water or Gatorade the morning of
  • Drink a half cup water at each aid station and 1-2 cups after race
  • If hot or humid, increase the water intake during race
  • A 1-2% dehydration before a race leads to a 10% decline in performance (and less calories burned!)
  • Limit yourself to one caffeine drink the morning of race

The Night Before

  • You do not need to eat any more than usual the night before a 5K
  • Keep in low in fat (easy on butter, fattening meats, sauces, dressings)
  • Have at least 1 form of carbohydrates (a baked potato, rice, pasta, bread) with some lean protein and a vegetable

Race Morning

  • Drink 2 cups of water race morning
  • Eat a light breakfast (nothing new!)
  • Small banana, granola bar, half bagel with jelly, toast with peanut butter
  • Keep in low in fiber and fat
  • Remember to leave in time to allow for parking and lines in at the bathroom before the race

Post Race

  • First of all, congratulations, enjoy yourself!
  • Typically the best post workout snack is a carbohydrate and protein
  • A light yogurt, a protein shake, whole grain sandwich
  • Best if in liquid form and taken within a 45 minutes window of exercise

Good luck!

Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN, CPT

Sports and Wellness Dietitian and Personal Trainer

Devine Nutrition Inc.

Week of September 11

Making Family Meals a Priority

Are you concerned about what your child does (and does not) eat? The solution could be as close as your kitchen table. Gathering around the table to eat as a family has many benefits. Family meals allow parents to be role models who create a supportive environment that promotes healthy eating.

Family meals can mean more than better nutrition. Children of families who regularly eat together also are more likely to have higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and are less likely to be obese, have behavior problems, or use drugs, cigarettes or alcohol when they get older. No wonder family meals are on the upswing!

Try these easy-to-follow tips to make family meals happen more often in your home:

  • Keep it simple: Attempting to make a meal with 20 ingredients can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, build a small collection of go-to recipes to help you get in and out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes.
  • Choose ingredients that multitask: Ingredients you can use for more than one meal are a major time saver. Instead of making just three chicken breasts, consider making six. This way, you can use the extras in other dishes later in the week, such as chicken salad or fajitas.
  • Make it a habit. Make sure each family member knows that everyone is to be home for dinner at a particular time. When everyone expects to enjoy dinner at a specific time, they will begin to look forward to this and will arrange their schedules around it.
  • It's OK to ask for help: You have a little army of helpers right at your fingertips. Asking kids to set the table, pour drinks, chop veggies or help make a salad doesn't just make your job easier -- it also teaches them that taking the time and effort to eat together as a family is important. Little kids can practice counting skills by getting the correct number of forks and napkins for the table. Teens love the independence they have when shopping for groceries. Hand them a grocery list and enough money to cover it and let them pick out an extra vegetable or some whole-grain bread for dinner.
  • Make it fun. Add some fun and excitement with food themes. You can use a checkered tablecloth for an Italian-inspired meal, or prepare fresh Asian cuisine and eat with chopsticks. Throw a blanket on your family room floor and enjoy a family picnic. Let everyone choose a theme and you will see that your choices are endless.

Start your new family meal tradition today by making a commitment to eating at least one meal together each week. Many families look forward to and love a dinner tradition. Before you know it, family dinner will be a time that everyone looks forward to enjoying together!

Week of September 4

Apple Time!

Now that fall is finally here, apple season is upon us! Apples offer us a wide variety of nutritional benefits, especially the skins.

For example they:

  • are a great source of heart healthy soluble fiber (which help to lower your LDL or bad cholesterol).
  • are high in antioxidants (Antioxidants are one key to heart health, because they help protect our cardiovascular system from oxygen-related damage).
  • are high in flavonoids (provide antioxidant protection and help prevent excessive and unwanted inflammation. Flavonoids have repeatedly been shown to help lower risk of heart disease, and also to improve problems with heart disease once it has occurred.)

A great way to pick up organic apples is at your local farmers market or to pick them yourself at an apple farm. Below are two websites where you can find local farmers markets and apple farms.

Apples are very portable, keep well at room temperature or refrigerated, and can make a quick snack on the go.

Besides using apples as snacks, here are some ways to incorporate apples into your diet...

  • Cut up and peel a green apple and throw some slices over your morning oatmeal or high fiber cereal. ( I microwave apples with the oatmeal so they are softer to eat!)
  • Make apple cider (Makes great in a crock pot when having family and friends over. Who needs a candle when you have apple cider brewing in your crock pot?)
  • Include in a breakfast parfait with low fat granola and yogurt.
  • Chop up and put into a salad.
  • Make an apple crisp with oatmeal, cinnamon, chopped apples and a sprinkle of brown sugar for a quick dessert. Bake in oven until warm. (Throw ingredients in a glass pie dish, bake for 30 minutes).

Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RD, CSSD, LDN

August 2017

Week of August 28

Labor Day Grilling

Most of you are probably getting ready to relax and fire up the grill, as Labor Day is just around the corner. Summer cookouts don't mean you have to compromise your healthy meal plan. By keeping portion sizes in check, you can still plan a well-balanced satisfying meal.

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burgers


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns (or Sandwich Thin buns), split and toasted

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • Skewers


  1. In a shallow glass dish, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic powder. Stir the chicken pieces and pineapple into the marinade until well coated. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken and pineapple alternately onto skewers. Grill 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until chicken juices run clear.

Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RD, CSSD, LDN, CPT

*Not all products and advice are intended for each and every individual. It is recommended that individuals seek advice from their physician before starting on any diet or exercise routine.

Week of August 21

Kelly's Pasta Salad


  • 2 boxes of pasta. I use the tri color noodles and bow ties a lot.
  • 1 bottle Paul Newman Light Italian dressing (3/4 of bottle)
  • 1 block of mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced

-Compiled by Sandra Dempsey

Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RD, CSSD, LDN, CPT

Devine Nutrition

Week of August 14

Summer Recipes

Check out these yummy summer recipes!

Spinach Salad with Chicken and Avocado

(Serves 4)



  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 small avocado, pitted and cut into thin slices
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds


  • 6 tablespoons light Ranch dressing


  1. In a large salad bowl, combine the salad ingredients.
  2. Add the salad dressing and toss to coat.

Crunchy Veggie Wraps

(Serves 8)


  • 4 ounces light chive or vegetable cream cheese or light Laughing Cow garlic and herb spreadable cheese
  • 8 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded (matchstick cut) carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into thin strips (2 cups)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained

Light Caesar Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (or use mashed capers, soy sauce, or seasoned soybean paste for a vegetarian alternative)


  1. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese or cheese spread on each tortilla. Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup shredded carrots, a couple of avocado slices, about 1/4 cup of cucumbers, and 1/4 cup black beans.
  2. Combine and whisk together the Caesar dressing ingredients and drizzle the vegetables with about 1 teaspoon of the dressing. Fold up the bottom of the tortilla and roll them up as tightly as possible, letting the colorful vegetables peek out of the top. Cut in half, if desired, and enjoy immediately.

Choices/Exchanges: 2 Starch, 1 Lean Protein, 1 1/2 Fat

Week of August 7

Great Pantry Clean Up!

Now that summer is winding down and people are heading back to school, it is a great time to reorganize your pantry and get ready for the upcoming school year. To make your life just a little bit easier, go through these steps one by one to clear out the clutter so you won't have an excuse to not prep healthy meals! (Start with your pantry and repeat for other food cabinets and your refrigerator/freezer).

  1. Take EVERYTHING OUT. It can't be avoided!
  2. Clean and sanitize!
  3. Now start to look at expiration dates. Toss and/or recycle what you can. You will be AMAZED at some of the expiration dates on the foods in your house. I just found a box of graham cracker crumbs dating back to 2007! Stick with my rule, if in doubt, throw it out!
  4. Put aside the things that are not the healthiest, that you are okay with donating. (Think boxed meals, sugary cereals, etc). Donate them to your local pantry.
  5. Organize your pantry so the supplies and food you need for packing lunches is up close.
    • Purchase some bins to store your Ziploc baggies and food storage containers, so you can pull out and put back easily.
    • Put your baking goods in the back or up higher as you do not use those as much.
    • When unpacking groceries, try to put the new groceries in BACK of the old ones so they don't get pushed back and forgotten!
  6. Make a grocery list. Plan out at least one week in advance.

Stay tuned next week for a shopping guide!

July 2017

Week of July 31

Cilantro Pesto Pasta Salad

Recipe time! Here is an easy and healthy recipe to add to your dinner table this summer!



  • 2 cups tightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt


  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 cups shredded or diced chicken breast
  • 3 cups cooked whole wheat elbow macaroni


  1. Pesto: Add cilantro, garlic, walnuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse 4 to 5 times until ingredients are roughly chopped. Turn on the food processor, and slowly drizzle in the oil through the lid opening. Process until smooth. Add the yogurt to this mixture and process until well combined.
  2. Salad: In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients with the pesto. Gently toss to combine.

Recipe compliments of:
Ashley Simper, M.S., RD, LDN
Community/Outpatient Dietitian
HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center
Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Media Spokesperson

Week of July 24

10 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables This Summer!

Put those fresh in season fruits and vegetables to use this summer. Below are 10 ways to boost your produce intake this summer!

  1. Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
  2. "Sandwich" in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and tomato as fillings.
  3. Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
  4. Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
  5. Make fruit your dessert: Slice a banana lengthwise and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts. Or freeze some grapes for a quick evening snack.
  6. Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
  7. Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
  8. Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
  9. Place colorful fruit where everyone can easily grab something for a snack-on-the run. Keep a bowl of fresh, just ripe whole fruit in the center of your kitchen or dining table.
  10. Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.

Kelly Devine Rickert M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN

Week of July 17

Five Veggies to Add to Your Summer Grill!

What better way to eat your veggies than throwing them on the grill? Here are five side items to add to your dinner next time you grill out.

(Quick tip: Use a grill basket, or place tinfoil down on grill so you lose less veggies and for a quicker clean up!)

  1. Asparagus: a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants! After grilling, toss with lemon juice and some shaved Parmesan cheese.
  2. Corn: Always a staple in my house, add some corn on the cob to the grill this year! (I husk corn first then grill to get more flavor). I use Brummel and Brown yogurt spread and then choose from herbs and other condiments to add some more flavor: garlic, pepper, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, light mayo, sour dream or Greek yogurt spread, the sky in the limit!
  3. Mixed veggies: Dice up your favorite vegetables, toss lightly in olive oil and throw in some garlic for flavor...viola! Choose any combo from the following: Tomatoes (deseeded), onions, red, green, yellow peppers, zucchini, mushrooms,etc. I typically place some tin foil packets of these veggies where there is room left on the grill. Steam for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Green Beans: Toss lightly with olive oil and some salt and pepper and grill for about 10 minutes in the grill basket.
  5. Pineapple: (I know, I know, not a veggie but still packed with nutrients!). Throw some slices of pineapple on the grill to add to your grilled chicken sandwiches!

Also, check out this great recipe below!

Grilled Corn on the Cob


  • 6 ears of fresh corn
  • 1/4 cup butter (use less butter for lower calories!)
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • Cilantro
  • Tabasco to taste


Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate. Heat the garlic and butter in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir together the salt, black pepper, and cumin in a small dish. Stir into the butter mixture along with the lime juice and hot sauce until evenly blended. Brush the ears of corn generously with the garlic butter; reserve remaining butter.

Cook the corn on the preheated grill, rotating occasionally until the corn is hot and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Brush the corn with the remaining butter as the corn cooks. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired.

Week of July 10

Revved Up Road Trips: 5 Tips to Eating Healthy on the Road

It's that time of year again. Families far and near are shuffling kids, moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grannies into the car for the illustrious family road trip vacation. But when your vacation -- and your family -- crams into one car, it's hard to find something portable that you can also feel good about giving your family.

Below are 5 tips from Registered Dietitian and SXU Nutritionist, Kelly Devine Rickert M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN. They're fit for tots, teens, and parents alike, and most importantly, they'll withstand 70 miles per hour, potty pit-stops, and backseat fights.

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan!

By planning your meals and scheduled stops, and bringing along healthy beverages and snacks, you will save time, money and a lot of excess fat and sugar calories! Sit down and make a plan on when you will stop for meals.

  1. Hydrate!

First in that cooler needs to be water and 100% fruit juice boxes. This way, your family will stay hydrated during your road trip. Stay away from pop, sugary juice, tea, sports and energy drinks. Along with saving a lot of excess calories, you will save a lot of money avoiding gas stations and vending machines!

  1. Pack healthy snacks

By packing healthy snacks, you can decrease the excess fries and chips and the "I'm hungry" whines in between meal stops! Kelly recommends packing snacks into smaller snack bags so people can grab individual portions from the cooler. (Side note: Eating in the car does increase the choking factor especially for very small kids. Be mindful of this when choosing what snacks to bring)

  1. Stop and eat meals

Sometimes it may seem like it's easier to power through your drive by utilizing fast food restaurants and not stopping to eat but that may backfire. Take the time to stop and eat, stretch your legs and move around a bit before you continue on your trip. Add a side salad or a fruit to your meal instead of the usual fries and chips. If you want to go the fast food route, try and order sandwiches but supplement the meal with the snacks you have packed in the car. This is a HUGE cost saver on road trips!

  1. Exercise!

Take the time on your potty breaks to move your legs a bit, especially if you have young kids in the car. If the tensions are getting high in the back seat, it may be time for some fresh air! Many rest stops have trails and playgrounds now. A great app to download is USA Rest stops which will help you find what rest areas are closest to you.

Now that you've got your summer road trip snack pack prepared, you're ready to head out on a road-bound vacation you can truly feel good about.

Week of July 3

Now that it's heating up ... here are some tips for staying cool when exercising outside!

  1. Dress cool! You want to wear clothes that wick sweat, not absorb it.
  2. If possible, carry a water bottle with you or wear a hydration belt. The goal is to drink 4-8 oz. of water every 20 minutes.
  3. Try to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Set that alarm and get your workout in before work!
  4. Make sure you start your workout hydrated.
  5. If you feel dizzy, out of breathe more so than usual, stop and take a break. You don't want to end up with a trip to the ER. Listen to your body!

Try these healthy snacks to cool down post workout:

  1. Frozen fruit
  2. Homemade popsicles made from 100 percent fruit juice
  3. A pitcher of ice cold water with fruit slices, cucumber or mint
  4. Fruit smoothies
  5. Cold salads, loaded with raw vegetables, black beans or chickpeas, low-fat cheese or heart-healthy fish like albacore tuna or salmon
  6. Cold, crispy raw veggies

Download the American Heart Associations Warm Weather Fitness Guide (PDF) for more information.

June 2017

Week of June 19

Healthier Frozen Treats

How do you beat the summertime heat? According to the International Dairy Foods Association, summer is the season for eating frozen treats, with June being the highest production month of the year. The average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream in one year. A half cup serving of vanilla ice cream is 130 calories and has 4 grams of saturated fat, and ice cream with added mix-ins is double that! So, how can you cool off this summer without eating frozen treats loaded with calories and fat? Check out the tips below to keep you feeling cool in this summer heat:

  1. Freeze your fruit. Fruit is naturally sweet and is a great low-calorie and nutritious treat when frozen. Frozen grapes are easy to make and are a smart summertime snack. Throw your bananas in the freezer overnight, then the next day blend them in a food processor with some fruit or cinnamon for a mock ice cream.
  1. Swap traditional sweets. Greek yogurt is cool, creamy and delicious. A 1/2 cup nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt has half the calories, three times more protein, and no saturated fat compared to the same amount of ice cream.
  1. Choose light or low-fat versions. Many frozen treats come in light and no sugar added varieties. These products use nonfat or low-fat milk and sugar substitutes instead of whole milk and cane sugar. Skinny Cow products are pre-portioned and flavorful to satisfy your sweet tooth and control your portion. Frozen yogurt be made with non-fat milk and Greek yogurt, helping keep the calories down while boosting the protein. Sugar free popsicles are a great non-dairy alternative and are only 15 calories each.

Recipe Ideas

Berry Banana Freeze
Cinnamon Pecan Banana Freeze
Greek Yogurt Pop


International Dairy Foods Association. Ice cream sales & trends.

Simper, Ashley. Berry banana freeze.

Week of June 12

Summer Salad Recipes

Check out these two fast and easy recipes for summer salads!

Quinoa, Brown Rice and Black Bean Salad


  • 2 cups quinoa and brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 lemon juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 small can no salt corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinses
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large green pepper, chopped

Mix together and enjoy!

Best Salad EVER!


  • 1 English cucumber (i.e. seedless)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 ripe avocados (cut down to 1 if salad is for one)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place sliced cucumber, tomatoes, avocados, onion and cilantro in a large salad bowl.
  2. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Week of June 5

No better time to focus on increasing your water intake than summer time!

Did you know? According to studies from the CDC (from 2005-2010), U.S. youth drank an average of ONLY 15 ounces of water and U.S. adults drank an average of ONLY 39 ounces of water on a given day.

At a minimum, try and consume 64-80 ounces of water per day. This number should increase if you are exercising (add 16 ounces for every 30 minutes), if the weather is very hot or humid, or if you have consumed a high salt meal.

Want to sip on a flavored drink? Try one of these instead.

  • Crystal Light
  • Sobe Life Water
  • Vitamin Water Zero
  • Sugar free teas (Diet Liptons)
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Water with cut up slices of lemon, strawberries, cucumbers or oranges

Here are some of my favorite water bottles with trackers to help you keep track of your intake!

  1. Aqua Tally Cup - Keep count of how many cups you are drinking a day with a counter on the bottle. Glass stays cold for a very long time. Kelly's go to water cup!
  2. Ulla Tracker - Simply attach Ulla to your bottle -- it knows when you drink and blinks when you forget to!

May 2017

Week of May 29

3 Ways to Reboot after Memorial Weekend!

Three day weekends often have a way of increasing the pounds... especially ones over a holiday! Between apps, BBQ's, and alcohol, the calories tend to add up! Below are three ways to reboot your system to help get you back on track!

    1. Increase the water! Most post-holiday weight gain is from excess carbs and salt so drink up to help flush your system. Aim for at least 64-80 oz a day, more if you are working out.
    2. Get a moving! Below are some quick ways to burn 100 calories.

Ways to burn 100 calories:

    • 15 minutes of an aerobics class
    • Elliptical machine (arms and legs) for 12 minutes
    • Walking or running 1 mile
    • Biking for 20 minutes
    • Stop by Fitness with Friends for a quick workout
    • 20 minutes of yard work
    • Lift weights for 20-30 minutes
    • Playing tennis for 20 minutes
    • Swim laps for 12 minutes
    • Running Stairs for 6 minutes
    • Yoga for 20 minutes
    • Jump rope for 9 minutes
    • Dance class (or just dance!) for 9 minutes
    • Cleaning the house for 30 minutes
  1. Ditch the salt and dining out! Grab and go foods are twice as high as foods cooked from home. Plan your meals in advance, bring snacks to work all week to eat in between meals to help fill you up!

Week of May 22

Recipe Modification Time!

Sometimes all it takes is modifying some of your usual recipes to help lower the fat sugar and calories.

Here are 5 easy tips!

1. Reduce Amount of Fat, Sugar and Salt

You often can reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt without sacrificing flavor in healthy recipes. Use these general guidelines:

Fat. For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana or prune puree. You can also use commercially prepared fruit-based fat replacers found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

Sugar. Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. Instead, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla or almond extract to boost sweetness.

Salt. For most main dishes, salads, soups and other foods, you can reduce the salt by half or even eliminate it. You can reduce salt by half in baked goods that don't require yeast too. For foods that require yeast, you may need to experiment. Some salt may be necessary for leavening to keep baked goods from being too dense or flat.

2. Make Healthy Substitutions

Healthy substitutions not only reduce the amount of fat, calories and salt in your recipes but also can boost the nutritional content.

Pasta. Use whole-wheat pasta instead of enriched pasta. You'll almost triple the fiber. (4.5g vs 1.8g and 156 vs 157 calories)

Milk. Prepare a dessert with fat-free milk instead of whole milk to save more than 60 calories and 7 grams of fat per cup.

Meat. When making casseroles, scale back on meat, poultry or fish and increase the amount of vegetables. You'll save on calories and fat while gaining more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

3. Eliminate or Cut Back on Some Ingredients

In some recipes, you can eliminate an ingredient altogether or scale back the amount you use.

Toppings. Eliminate items you generally add out of habit or for appearance, such as frosting, coconut or whipped cream toppings, which are all high in fat and calories.

Condiments. Cut condiments, such as pickles, olives, butter, mayonnaise, syrup, jelly and mustard, which can have large amounts of salt, sugar, fat and calories. Use fresh condiments such as cucumbers vs pickles, cherry tomatoes versus olives, non-fat or reduced fat spreads versus butter or mayonnaise. Instead of syrup or jelly, try fresh berries that are mashed, or thin slices of fresh apples, peaches or pears. Use low-sodium soy sauce in a smaller amount than a recipe calls for to decrease the amount of salt.

Cheese. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, use 1/2 cup instead.

4. Change Cooking and Prep Techniques

Healthy cooking techniques can capture the flavor and nutrients of your food without adding excessive amounts of fat, oil or salt. Try these preparation techniques for healthy recipes.

Cooking method. Healthy cooking techniques include braising, broiling, grilling, poaching, sautéing and steaming.

Basting liquid. If the directions say to baste the meat or vegetables in oil or drippings, use a small amount of wine, fruit juice, vegetable juice or fat-free vegetable broth instead.

Nonstick cookware. Using nonstick pans or spraying pans with nonstick spray will further reduce the amount of fat and calories added to your meals.

5. Downsize the Portion Size

No matter how much you reduce, switch or omit ingredients, some recipes may still be high in sugar, fat or salt. You can help your diet by cutting back on the portion size instead.

Slow down. Eat your meals more slowly to give your body a chance to register the fact that you're filling up. Put your fork down between bites if necessary. You'll eat less in the long run.

Check portion sizes. Many portions today are so large you may not realize what a true portion or serving is. Train yourself by using smaller plates, spoons and cups. And learn to use common visual cues to understand servings -- one serving of whole-grain cooked pasta is about the same size as a hockey puck, for instance.

Plan ahead when eating out. It's easy to go overboard when eating out. Take precautions such as splitting a dish with a dining companion, skipping the bread basket, or asking for a doggy bag and packing up half your meal.

Putting it all together to create healthy recipes

Before plunging ahead with a recipe, look it over and think about what you can change to turn it into a healthy recipe. Make notes of any alterations so that you can refer to them the next time you prepare the recipe. You may have to make the recipe a few times before you get the results you want. But finding the right combination of ingredients -- for the desired taste, consistency and nutrients -- is well worth the trouble.

Week of May 15

Are you training for a 5K or 10K this summer? Check out these Race Day Nutrition Tips!


  • Drink plenty of water the day before and night of the race
  • Skip the sodas the night before
  • Drink at least 2 cups of water or Gatorade the morning of
  • Drink a half cup water at each aid station and 1-2 cups after race
  • If hot or humid, increase the water intake during race
  • A 1-2% dehydration before a race leads to a 10% decline in performance (and less calories burned!)
  • Limit yourself to one caffeine drink the morning of race

The night before

  • You do not need to eat any more than usual the night before a 5K
  • Keep in low in fat (easy on butter, fattening meats, sauces, dressings)
  • Have at least 1 form of carbohydrates (a baked potato, rice, pasta, bread) with some lean protein and a vegetable

Race Morning

  • Drink 2 cups of water race morning
  • Eat a light breakfast (nothing new!)
  • Small banana, granola bar, half bagel with jelly, toast with peanut butter
  • Keep in low in fiber and fat
  • Remember to leave in time to allow for parking and lines in at the bathroom before the race

Post Race

  • First of all, congratulations, enjoy yourself!
  • Typically the best post workout snack is a carbohydrate and protein
  • A light yogurt, a protein shake, whole grain sandwich
  • Best if in liquid form and taken within a 45 minutes window of exercise

Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CPT
Sports and Wellness Dietitian and Personal Trainer

Devine Nutrition Inc.

Week of May 8

Ideas for Mother's Day!

Have a mom in your life you want to buy for this Mother's Day? Looking for some ideas besides flowers and chocolate? Check out these 5 items for the fit mom in your life!

  1. Hello Fresh meal delivery! Hello Fresh is one of my favorite meal delivery companies because it a) has a RD working behind the scenes on the recipes and b) the items shipped are fresh and taste FANTASTIC! You don't have to continue with the subscription, but at least 1 week off of meal prep is a much needed and wanted break for any mom in your life!
  2. Fitbit. I know, I know. That's all I talk about. There are so many cute new designs out now...check them out!
  3. Mom doesn't have room for a garden? Give her supplies to plant some peppers, tomatoes and berries in a pot. Great way to grow produce without maintaining a large garden! All you need is a large pot, soil and seeds. (Although I like purchasing the starter ones to replant versus growing from seeds.)
  4. Mom a foodie? Does she like to try new foods? I love the healthy snacks at Graze or NatureBox. From $6 on up, mom can receive a box of healthy snacks to her door every week or month! You can purchase a gift certificate on the Graze website.
  5. Give the gift of better hydration! I love my Aqua Tally cup and my Hidrate Spark bottle. Both help track water intake throughout the day.

~Kelly Devine Rickert M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN

Week of May 1

Three Healthy Recipes

Need come weeknight inspiration? Check out these quick and healthy recipes!

Pasta with Zucchini and Roasted Garlic


  • 1 pound twists or spirals, uncooked whole grain
  • 8 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (about 5-6 cups)


  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450°F. Place your garlic on a 12-inch square piece of foil on the counter. Sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Pour the oil over the garlic and herbs. Draw up the edges of the foil and make a sealed packet. Bake 20 minutes.
  2. While the garlic is baking, cook pasta according to package directions. Two minutes before pasta is done, add the zucchini to the pasta cooking water. Cook two minutes. Drain zucchini and pasta.
  3. Open the foil and mash the garlic lightly with a spoon. Toss with the pasta and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Sides: Serve with a side salad and whole-wheat dinner roll. (Open to bake chicken breasts to add more protein).

Source: National Pasta Association Website

Egg Flatbread Sandwiches


  • 1/8 cup finely chopped broccoli
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 green onions, finely chopped (or sub any veggie you wish!)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp. cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    dried dill weed to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 multigrain Sandwich Thins


Spray a nonstick 10 inch skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat; add broccoli, bell pepper and onions. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until tender. Beat egg whites, cheese, dill weed, salt and pepper together with fork. Pour into skillet over vegetables. As eggs start to set, lift the edges with a spatula, allowing uncooked eggs to flow to bottom of skillet. Cook until eggs are set but still moist and place on sandwich thin.

Substitution: Top eggs with a handful of baby spinach, arugula leaves or a few thinly sliced tomatoes.

Tilapia Fish Tacos

Serves: 4


  • Fresh tilapia, 1 lb., cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 tbsp. cajun spice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 limes, juiced and divided
  • 8 corn taco shells
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, low fat
  • 1/2 cup Mexican style finely shredded taco cheese
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Lime wedges


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. In a bowl, toss fish with cajun spices and 2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Place tilapia on a baking sheet and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish turns opaque.
  4. In a bowl, mix tomatoes, green onions, cumin, 1 tablespoon oil, juice of one lime, salt and pepper.
  5. Divide tilapia among taco shells and add desired toppings.

Kelly Devine Rickert M.S. RDN, CSSD, LDN

April 2017

Week of April 24

Did you know this week is both Medical Fitness Week and Every Kid Healthy Week?

Let's combine them together! Promoting fitness at home is important for both for parents and children. Not only are you working out together and getting some exercise in, but you are teaching lifelong healthy habits for children to mimic as they grow older. Fitting in fitness can be a challenge but even 10 or 15 minutes a day is better than none at all!

Did you know the recommended amount of exercise your child should be getting every day? Sixty minutes is the recommendation for all children! You may be thinking, between school, work and activities there just isn't more time to squeeze in one more activity! What it boils down to is this...what is your family making a priority? Focusing on the health and wellness of not just the kids but yourselves as well, teaches your children that health, good nutrition and exercise is a value worth investing your time and energy in.

So how?

Here are some tips on how to schedule more exercise and fitness in your day to day lives.

  • Schedule your exercise in your calendar each Sunday
  • Take the stairs instead of elevator or escalator
  • Exercise as soon as you come in from work/school
  • Kick the kids outside for an hour while you prep dinner
  • Park your car at opposite end of parking lot (when safe to do so)
  • Walk on a break at work daily
  • Train for a local 5K race (Chicago Athlete). Lots of races and kid friendly distances.
  • Start an exercise/walking group with friends or colleagues. Bring the older kids with or have them rides bikes with you.
  • Take a walk around the block when you get home with kids or after dinner as a family
  • Learn a new sport or join a league
  • Enroll the kids in various summer camps.
  • Wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Kids LOVE wearing these as well. Just don't invest much in the kids pedometers.
  • Pack your gym bag each night
  • Before you get home, stop off at a local trail and take a 20 minute walk.
  • Add strength training to your routine twice a week for 20 minutes
  • Have the whole family do sit-ups and push-ups each night before bed.
  • Go to a park and let the kids loose! If you have older kids, walk around the park while you keep an eye on them so you can burn calories too.
  • Kids have practices? Don't wait in the car. Walk around the gym or field.
  • Jump rope or do jumping jacks during commercials
  • Join a class at the park district.
  • Invest in some outdoor equipment. Roller blades, bikes, nets, scooters, jump ropes, bubbles, mini pools, slip n slides.
  • Put a limit on TV, video games, iPods, etc. No more than a half hour or hour a day. That goes for the adults too!

The sky's the limit. This week, sit down with the family at dinner and discuss ways you all can start to become more active. You'll be surprised by some of the answers you may get!

Week of April 17

Healthy Grilled Cheese!

Who doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich? Almost everyone can think back to their childhood or times with their children, and remember eating a grilled cheese. The two warm slices of bread and cheese oozing out from the delicious. You can now make a grown-up grilled cheese that will be healthier for you, but still give you that comfort feeling!

Tips to lighten up your grilled cheese:

  • Go easy on the butter. I use Brummel and Brown.
  • Up the fiber. I use whole grain toast for my grilled cheese (Love Today's Temptation bread when I can find it)
  • Add some fruit or veggies. Sliced apples, tomatoes or avocados taste great on a grilled cheese!
  • I use 2% or Sargento thin slices of cheese on my sandwich. Switch it up and try something different besides cheddar! I love using pepper jack!

Here is a recipe to try!
Recipe: Grilled Cheese

Serves: 1


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or Brummel and Brown spread)
  • 2 slices multigrain bread
  • 2-4 thin tomato slices
    1 1/2 ounces low-fat Swiss/Cheddar/Pepper Jack cheese (I like Sargento Thin Slices)
  • (Avocado, green or red pepper slices go great too!)

Brush olive oil or butter on one side of both slices of bread. Add one piece of bread to a warm skillet, butter side down. Top the bread slice with cheese, tomato slices or any other veggies you wish to add. Top with the other slice of bread, butter side up. Turn the heat down to medium after a minute and cook for 2 to 4 minutes on each side, checking every minute or so, until melted to your liking.

Pair with some sliced fruit, baked chips, tomato soup or a nice salad!

Week of April 10

Easter Holiday Tips

Did you overindulge during the Easter holiday? Below are some tips to get you back on track!

  1. Limit yourself to one small treat a day (or even better...donate your leftover candy!)
  2. Increase the water! Most post-holiday weight gain is from excess carbs and salt so drink up to help flush your system! Aim for at least 64 oz. a day, more if you are working out. (Check out my two favorite water cups, Aqua Tally and Hidrate Bottle!)
  3. Get a moving! Below are some quick ways to burn 100 calories.

Ways to burn 100 calories:

  • 15 minutes of an aerobics class
  • Elliptical machine (arms and legs) for 12 minutes
  • Walking or running 1 mile
  • Biking for 20 minutes
  • 20 minutes of yard work
  • Life weights for 20-30 minutes
  • Playing tennis for 20 minutes
  • Play Wii boxing or tennis for 20 minutes
  • Swim laps for 12 minutes
  • Running Stairs for 6 minutes
  • Yoga for 20 minutes
  • Jump rope for 9 minutes
  • Dance class (or just dance!) for 9 minutes
  • Cleaning the house for 30 minutes

Week of April 3

Devine Nutrition April Sit-Up Challenge!

Time to get those abs ready for summer! Try our April Sit-Up Challenge!


  1. Sign up online for the April Sit-Up Challenge!
  2. Download the April Sit-Up Challenge Tracking Form (PDF) and each day/night as you do your sit-ups, put your initials in the box. You can choose a beginner or intermediate level.
  3. Scan and email or fax your logs in by May 5, 2017 to be entered into a raffle to win one free month of the Devine Nutrition On the Go Menu Planner and an Aqua Tally water cup!

Good luck! Feel free to invite your family and friends!

March 2017

Week of March 27

Let's Talk Exercise!

Whether you are trying to get in shape or lose a couple of pounds, combining exercise and diet is the best way to go. Here are some tips on how to get started and some general exercise guidelines.

How to get started!

  • Make a goal and stick with it (i.e. I will workout three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6 p.m.)
  • Record your exercise in your food journal so you can add up how many times a week you exercised or how calories you burned in a week.
  • Start slowly! Nothing is worse that going full steam ahead your first day of working out. You will either get injured or be so sore you won't go to the gym the next day! Moderation is key!
  • Aim for at least 3-6 days of cardio a week and 2-3 days of strength training per week.
  • If you are unsure on how to use the equipment, hire a personal trainer for a couple of sessions. Think of how much money you spend on fast food or coffee drinks. Use that money instead on your health! Your body will thank you!

Try to burn at least 300-500 calories a day during exercise for weight loss.

Exercises equivalent to 100 calories:

  • walking or running 1 mile
  • biking for 20 minutes
  • playing tennis for 30 minutes
  • 15 minutes of an aerobics class
  • Elliptical machine (arms and legs) for 15 minutes

Circuit training workout at home:

  • Pick 5-10 exercises and lay out appropriate equipment.
  • Do 30 seconds of an exercise, rest for 30 seconds.
  • Move onto to next exercise.
  • Repeat until all exercises are done.
  • Once you need more of a challenge, increase the exercise time to 45 seconds and the rest time to 15 seconds.


Strength Cardio
Planks Walk in place
Push ups Jog in place
Sit ups Stairs
Lunges Jumping Jacks
Squats Jump Rope
Wall sits  
Tricep dips  
Burpees (advanced)  

Week of March 13

Corned Beef and Cabbage

This recipe is for the slow cooker. It serves six people, takes about 30 minutes to prepare and cook.


  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
  • 10 baby red potatoes
  • 1 onion quartered, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (4 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet
  • 6 ounces beer
  • 1/2 head cabbage, coarsely chopped


  • Place the carrots, potatoes and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker
  • Pour in the water and place the brisket on top of the vegetables
  • Pour the beer over the brisket
  • Sprinkle on the spices from the packet, cover and set the cooker on high
  • Cook the brisket for about 8 hours
  • An hour before serving, stir in the cabbage and cook for 1 more hour

Devine Nutrition On the Go Weekly Menu Planner

The "On the Go" dinner meal plan is designed for the individual or family that wants to eat healthier at home, but doesn't know what to make or where to start. For $4.95 a month, you will receive 16 dinner meals (4 each week and a weekly shopping list)! All meals are designed to prep and make in 30 minutes or less. Along with your weekly email that includes your upcoming week's menu and shopping list, you will also be able to login the Devine Nutrition website where you will have access to previous meal plans and shopping lists!

Week of March 6

8 Ways to "Put Your Best Fork Forward!"

"Put Your Best Fork Forward" is the theme for National Nutrition Month® 2017 which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. "Making small changes during National Nutrition Month® and over time, helps improve health now and into the future," says Kelly Devine Rickert, registered dietitian and Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Media spokesperson.

  1. Eat Breakfast. There's no better way to start your morning than with a healthy breakfast. Include lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, sliced almonds and berries, or top a toaster waffle with low-fat yogurt and fruit.
  2. Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables. Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables your daily goal. Don't let cost stop you from enjoying produce. Frozen and canned are great alternatives.
  3. Be Active! Regular physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don't have to hit the gym -- take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
  4. Drink More Water. Drink water instead of sugary drinks and let thirst be your guide. A healthy body can balance water needs throughout the day. Drink plenty of water if you are active, live or work in hot conditions, or are an older adult.
  5. Dine Out without Ditching Your Goals. You can dine at a restaurant and stick to your healthy eating plan! The key is to plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Think about nutritious items you can add to your plate -- fruits, veggies, lean meat, poultry or fish -- and look for grilled, baked, broiled or steamed items.
  6. Enact Family Meal Time. Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating. Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week in 2017. Set a regular mealtime. Turn off the TV, phones and other electronic devices to encourage mealtime talk. Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking and use this time to teach them about good nutrition.
  7. Fix Healthy Snacks. Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals. Whenever possible, make your snacks combination snacks. Choose from two or more of the food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, lean protein or nuts. Try low-fat yogurt with fruit, or a small portion of nuts with an apple or banana.
  8. Explore New Foods and Flavors. Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable or whole grain that's new to you or your family. Try different versions of familiar foods like blue potatoes, red leaf lettuce or rice.

February 2017

Week of February 20

What should you look for when you want to buy foods healthy for your heart?

  1. First, check out the fat section of the label. Aim for foods low in saturated fat with zero grams of trans fat. Unsaturated fats are your heart-healthy fats (found in healthy oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados) so don't be afraid of these. They are actually good for you!
    Most people's total fat intake should in general be between 35-50 grams per day, with 90% of those fats coming from your heart healthy sources.
  2. Next up, the carbohydrate, sugar and fiber section. Aim for foods with a higher content of fiber (especially the soluble fiber!) and lower amounts of sugar. Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber per day to help fill you up and to lower those LDL cholesterol levels.
  3. Last but not least, check out the ingredient section. Avoid foods with ingredients such as palm kernel oils, hydrogenated fats and bleached white flour. (Found often in low fat microwave popcorn, peanut butter and cracker packages and non dairy coffee creamers!)

Recipe on how to Make your own trail mix

  1. I find it healthier to mix your own trail mix than to buy those that are prepacked, which may or may not have added salt and sugars.
  2. In a gallon size baggie, mix a variety from the following ingredients:
    • Carbohydrate options: Low salt pretzels or Cheerios (multigrain and regular).
    • Fruit: Dried fruit with no added sugars such as apples, bananas, strawberries.
    • Seeds: Sunflower, hemp, sesame, flax or pumpkin (Target has a great selection!)
    • Nuts: Pistachios, walnuts, almonds.
    • Sweets: Dark chocolate pieces, yogurt covered raisins or chocolate covered nuts (in moderation!) Omit if wanting to lose weight or lower blood sugars.
    • Spices: It's nice to spice up your trail mix every now and then to jazz it up a bit. Try cinnamon, curry, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper.

In general a serving of trail mix is about 1/4- 1/2 cup.


Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN

Week of February 6

Need some weeknight inspiration? Check out these two quick recipes!

Southwestern Quinoa and Egg Breakfast Bowl


  • 1/4 cup raw quinoa
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup no-salt-added, frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • hot sauce (optional)


  1. Cook quinoa according to the package directions. Remove from heat and let sit.
  2. Prepare the remaining ingredients: pit and dice the avocado half; chop the tomatoes; rinse the canned corn; chop the scallions, and chop the cilantro.
  3. Divide quinoa between 4 bowls. Arrange the avocado, tomatoes, corn, scallions, and (optional) cilantro between each bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and warm over medium-high heat. Crack each egg into the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and cook until egg whites are set but yolk is still runny, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully transfer each sunny-side-up egg into each bowl. Garnish with hot sauce and serve.

One-Dish Beefy Rice Casserole


  • 6 cups shredded cabbage or 1, 14 -oz. packaged cole slaw mix
  • 1 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 lb. extra-lean, ground sirloin
  • 1, 10-oz. canned, diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1, 14- oz. canned, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1, 15- oz. canned black-eyed peas (rinsed, drained)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large oven-proof pot, layer the cabbage, rice, meat, , tomatoes and green chilies, and beef broth.
  3. Cook, covered with foil or lid, 1 hour 40 minutes, stirring after 40 minutes, and continue cooking, covered, until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir in the black-eyed peas and season to taste.

January 2017

Week of January 23

Meal Timing and Weight Loss

Looking to start a weight loss plan and don't know where to start? Follow these quick tips to jump-start your energy levels and weight loss! No fad diets needed!

Eat a snack or meal every 3 or 4 hours throughout the day. When you go longer than 4 hours without eating, your blood sugar starts to drop and you are more likely to overeat at your next meal. To prevent hunger and overeating, try to combine a complex carbohydrate (see list below) and a source of lean protein, at all meals spaced every 3 to 4 hours.


  • Whole wheat breads, English muffins, buns
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown or Wild rice, Quinoa, etc.
  • Fruits (no fruit juices)
  • Dairy; milk, yogurt
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Oatmeal or high fiber cereals (All Bran, Kasha)
  • High fiber/protein bars (Kasha, Kind, etc.)

Lean Proteins

  • Boneless, skinless chicken or turkey
  • Lean ground turkey or beef
  • Lean pork chop or tenderloin
  • Egg or egg whites
  • Nuts (small handful) or peanut or almond butter
  • String cheese, Laughing Cow cheese, 1-2% cottage cheese
  • Whey or plant based protein powder
  • 1/3 cup of beans
  • Greek Yogurt

Healthy Snacks

(For in-between meals; include a complex carbohydrate and a lean protein.)

  • 1/2 banana and handful nuts
  • 1 fruit and low fat string cheese
  • Yogurt or yogurt fruit smoothie
  • 1/4 cup of 1% cottage cheese and 6 whole grain crackers
  • Hard boiled egg and 15 grapes
  • 1-1.5 tbsp peanut butter and sliced apple

Start a food journal. Write down all the foods you eat, portion sizes and meal timing. This will help keep you accountable.

Kelly Devine Rickert
Shannon Center Dietitian

Week of January 16

Healthy Recipes to Jump-Start Your Day!

Check out the two super healthy recipes below to jump-start your day!

Looking for more information on healthy eating and weight loss? Check out the new 8 week weight loss program starting Tuesday, January 31 at the Shannon Center!

Email for more info!

Recipes brought to you by SuperSwap Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner!

  • Dawn, fellow Chicago RDN, just published a book, The Superfood Swap.
  • Why do I love this book? The recipes are nutritious, easy to prep and prepare.
  • It's filled with simple yet fun messages on how to swap out unhealthy ingredients for health promoting foods and it's science based.
  • No fad diets. No gimmicks. The real deal. You can find it on her website!

Superfood Scramble Bowl

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup of avocado, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Scramble the eggs in oil over medium heat.
  2. Assemble your bowl. Place the spinach in a medium bowl and top with warm egg and quinoa. Top with avocado and veggies. Add juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper!


410 calories, 23g fat, 31g carbs, 9g fiber and 21g protein.

(You can reduce total fat by reducing the avocado portion and/or by substituting 1 egg yolk for 2 egg whites.)

Time saver: Use frozen precooked quinoa in grocery store or make a big batch and save in smaller portions to reheat.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

  • Topping
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 c finely diced pecans
  • 1/4 c coconut water
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup of unsweetened milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flax seed (ground)
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 10 cups of a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine ingredients for the topping. Mix together and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the oats, milk, eggs, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla and salt. Divide mixture between the 10 muffin cups. Top each muffin with 1 tbsp. of topping mix, Bake for about 30 minutes until set. Refrigerate uneaten muffins in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


2 muffins 370 calories, 21g fat, 36g carb, 6g fiber and 10g protein.

Week of January 9

Jump Start Plan!

Now is that time of year to pitch all the leftover cookies, dust off that treadmill and make those New Year's resolutions. Focus on LIFESTYLE changes this year, not just quick fixes. Here are some tips to help you get jump-started!

  • Try to cut out ALL drinks except water, sugar free teas and Crystal lights and coffee (minus the sugar and creams). This includes juices, caffeine/energy drinks, sweetened teas, and soda pops (diet and regular).
  • Start a food journal so you can keep track of the following items: time you eat, food or drink you consume, portion size, amount of time exercised, and weekly weight. If you are not losing at least 1 pound per week, go through the journal with a highlighter and see where you can improve. I recommend downloading My Fitness Pal on your smart phones if you want to journal electronically. (Find me as a friend by searching my email,
  • Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day about every 2.5 to 4 hours. This will increase your metabolism and cut down on the amount of food you consume at your large meals.
  • Cut back on your portion of carbohydrates such as potatoes, fries, chips, buns, rice, breads, cookies, sweets, donuts, etc. Aim for a lean protein source at each meal with 1 or 2 vegetables.

Week of January 2

It's that time again. A time to reflect on the past year and make goals for the new one.

What are YOUR New Year's Resolutions? Did you meet all of your health and fitness goals last year? If not, here are some tips on how to make a better New Year's Resolution!

  • Write down all of your goals for the upcoming year and keep them in a journal or in a safe place so you can reference it often. (I keep mine in my wallet so I can look at them every now and again
  • Make short and long term goals with an end date in mind.
  • Be realistic!
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! Exercise is key for optimal health and for faster results. Plan your exercise sessions in your daily planner just like you would schedule any other appointment. That way, you can plan accordingly (bringing your workout clothes with you to work so you can hit the gym on your way home) and make exercise a priority.
  • Make yourself accountable for your new goals. Enlist family or friends to help you attain those New Years Resolutions. And remember, these are goals for the whole year not just January! Look over your goals every month so you can evaluate if you are on task. If you aren't, it's not the end of the world! Set a new goal and you'll be on track again in no time!

Need accountability in reaching your goals in 2017? Contact me today!


Devine Nutrition, Inc.
Kelly Devine Rickert, M.S., RDN, CSSD, LDN, CPT

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Registered Dietitian and ACE Certified Personal Trainer