Cook Healthy Meals with Whole Foods

As a Registered Dietitian, I am a member of several organizations to stay in touch with the latest nutrition news and information. One of my favorite things to read is Nutrition Action, and in a past issue there was an article titled, “Name That Food.” It read:

When you walk through the supermarket, it's the front labels that get your attention. What would happen if you chose foods by reading the ingredients instead? See if you can match the ingredient lists below to the foods listed on pg.11. It's tough, mostly because all the foods listed — like hundreds of other foods — contain essentially the same (cheap) ingredients: refined carbs plus oil and/or sugar. If some — like pita chips, Special K and English muffins (with their "hearty grains," whatever that means) — seem healthy, it's only because they're marketed to look that way. Bottom line; spend your calories on foods like fruits and vegetables, not on white flour in its many disguises.

I thought I would share four of the foods in the article to see how well you know what you are eating. The answers are listed at the bottom of the article.

Your choices of foods are: 

1) New York Style Bagel Crisps Plain
2) Thomas' Grains Double fiber English Muffins
3) Rold Gold Pretzels
4) Special K original Cereal

A) Rice, Wheat Gluten, Sugar, Defatted Wheat Germ, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dried Whey, Malt Flavoring, Calcium caseinate, Ascorbic Acid, Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Reduced Iron, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Palmitate, Folic Acid and Vitmain B12

B) Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Modified food starch, farina, wheat gluten, polydextrose, honey, yeast, sugar, salt, preservatives, soybean oil, malt, monoglycerides, natural and artificial flavor, Xanthan Gum, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, whey, soy flour, nonfat milk.

C) Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), corn syrup, salt, corn oil, yeast, malt extract, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and artificial flavor.

D) Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil, less than 1% of the following: sugar, yeast, salt, distilled vinegar, yellow corn flour, natural beta carotene (color), spice extractive, soybean oil, color, soy lecithin.

In an effort to encourage you to eat whole foods with little or no ingredients, I've created a dinner for you to try. It would be great if we could all eat whole foods and less processed items, but I understand that that is easier said than done (even for me). If you find that you have a processed food item you want to eat, pair it with more healthy foods, particularly fruits or vegetables. What's most important is that you are actually enjoying the healthy foods (with little or no ingredients) and eating them more often than the processed stuff.

Quinoa Veggie Casserole

·         1/2 cup quinoa (cooked)

·         1 Tbsp Light sour cream

·         1 cup spinach (chopped)

·         1 cup mushrooms (chopped)

·         1/4 cup onions (chopped)

·         1/2 container firm tofu (crumbled)

·         2 cloves garlic (chopped)

·         2 Tbsp salsa

·         3 egg whites + 1 whole egg

·         1/8 cup skim milk

·         Spices/herbs: Basil leaves, pepper

·         2 Tbsp shredded cheese

1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray glass casserole dish with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with no-salt seasonings/herbs.

2.     Combine cooked (and cooled) quinoa with sour cream and press into casserole dish.

3.     Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

4.     Spread veggie mixture over quinoa (it's ok if you don't use all of the veggie-mixture. You can save it for an omelet the next day)

5.     Pour lightly scrambled eggs and milk all over veggie mixture.

6.     Top with shredded cheese.

7.     Bake for 30-40 min. or until cheese is melted and edges are brown.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. She is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, Ironman finisher and an Oakley Women ambassador, and she has contributed articles to a number of triathlon organizations, such as Lava Magazine, Triathlete Magazine, and To contact Marni, email [email protected], visit or become a fan of TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition on Facebook.

Editor note: Marni is a local Jacksonville, FL resident.

Answers to the food/ingredient matching exercise:
1) New York Style Bagel Crisps Plain - D
2) Thomas' Grains Double fiber English Muffins - B
3) Rold Gold Pretzels - C
4) Special K original Cereal - A


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