About Sonja

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her href="https://twitter.com/SonjaGoedkoopRD">twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.

Make-Ahead Healthy Pasta Salad, Perfect for Cookouts

Memorial Day is right around the corner, making it the perfect time to start planning a cookout staple: pasta salad. Traditional pasta salad made with mayonnaise and white pasta is heavy and high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. But it’s actually an easy dish to lighten up — in calories and taste — with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Making the pasta whole wheat also adds fiber, which is known to reduce cancer risk and keep you full for longer.

The vibrant colorful ingredients make this Spring Pasta Salad pop and the flavor improves as it sits. You can store it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and use for leftover lunches or dinners. It is hearty enough to be served as a main, but also pairs well with grilled shrimp or salmon.

File_003This pasta salad includes some springtime favorites of mine: asparagus and fava beans. Continue reading

Sprucing up your office snack with sweet and spicy pecans

Eating small snacks throughout the day helps you avoid dips in energy to keep you productive and alert at work. Choosing the right type of snacks can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, which is important for cancer and chronic disease prevention.

Foods that contain protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats slow the digestion process and lead to a longer feeling of satisfaction compared to processed, sugary snacks. A great snack option that includes all of these nutrients are nuts. Research has shown that eating nuts at least 4 times a week can reduce your risk of cancer. Nuts contain a variety of cancer-protective nutrients and phytochemicals, and are a good source of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

This weekend I spruced up my usual snack of plain nuts by making homemade spiced pecans with a touch of sweetness and heat. Most candied nuts you buy in the grocery store are laden with sugar and excess fat, and expensive. Instead, I prefer to make my own – it’s surprisingly easy and with a few tweaks you can make a tasty, nutritious option at home.

This recipe only takes about 20 minutes and includes just 6 simple ingredients! Here’s the full recipe: Maple Cayenne Pecans.

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To prepare, mix the pecans with all the ingredients except the coconut oil in a medium bowl so they are evenly coated. Continue reading

Can Whole Grain Vegan Chocolate Chip Bites Be Tasty? Indeed.

Even though I’m a registered dietitian, I still love sweets. It’s important to find balance and moderation when it comes to your eating patterns. This means following AICR’s recommendations for a New American Plate most of the time, while allowing for the occasional treat. This type of balanced eating pattern will help you reduce your risk of cancer and chronic disease while staying satisfied and enjoying all the foods you love.

One of my favorite treats is a homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Most cookies are made almost entirely with sugar, butter and refined (white) flour – ingredients that can quickly lead to weight gain and increase your risk of cancer. However, in my numerous past attempts to make healthier cookies I’ve generally ended up with bland or dry tasting “healthy cookies.”

I recently found the perfect solution to making healthier cookies that also taste great. This recipe combines the sweet, gooey-chocolate and nutty flavor I love in oatmeal chocolate chip cookies while using minimally processed, nutritious ingredients.

OatmealCookieingredientsThey are made with fiber-rich whole rolled oats and almond flour, which add great flavor and make the cookies gluten free. The fat from the flaxseed and nut butter are rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and make this recipe more suitable for following a plant-based diet. Continue reading