Kelly Radi: Peanut Butter

Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Peanut ButterPeanut ButterPeanut Butter

Peanut Butter Trade-Ups

Peanut butter is a staple in our house.  With Brooke’s “almost vegetarian” status that began as a toddler, I often use peanut butter as a protein (meat) replacement for her.  She’ll eat peanut butter on just about anything…on celery with raisins (ants on a log), on apple slices, on waffles and, of course, in sandwich form.

I know the commercial says that “choosy mothers choose Jif”, but I was raised on Skippy brand peanut butter and have remained loyal to Skippy through the years.  Until recently, I had not branched out much in my nut butters.  But, once we started using NuVal to compare products, I simply had to bust out and try some new ones.  You see, most traditional peanut butter brands (Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan) score in the upper teens to lower 20’s on the NuVal scale. And many almond butters score in the 50’s and up!

Nutella: Treat vs. Staple

In life B.N. (before NuVal), I frequently bought Nutella, a thick, sweet, chocolate-hazelnut spread.  It is delicious on fruit and amazing on crepes.  While I certainly enjoy Nutella as a treat, I cannot justify using it as a protein replacement.  You see, Nutella gets a NuVal Score of 2.  Remember that is 2 on a scale of 1-100, where higher is better.  Delicious, yes.  Nutritious, NO!  Nutella packs a whopping 200 calories, 12 grams of fat (4 saturated), 21 grams of sugar and only 2 grams of protein in a 2 tablespoon serving.

Nutella    Nut Butter

The problem is that I trained my girls to like, I mean REALLY like, Nutella at very young ages.  So, I wanted to find a “trade-up” replacement for when they were craving a sweet spread.  We tried mixing unsweetened cocoa powder (NuVal 34) into almond butter (NuVal 50) with only so-so results.  Then we found Peanut Butter & Co. brand Dark Chocolate Dreams Peant Butter.  This sweet, creamy spread tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup in a jar.  It scores a NuVal 22.  I realize that is not an incredibly high score, however, it sure beats a 2 and definitely cures a sweet craving.  My favorite way to eat it is to smear some on a banana (91) for a treat.

Banana with Chocolate Peanut Butter

Notice I said treat.  I’ve been thinking lately about how foods that were once viewed as “treats” have become everyday menu items.  For example, when I was a girl, soda was a treat.  We might have pop on the weekends, for special occasions or when we went to Grandma’s house.  Ok, full disclosure:  we had a LOT of pop at Grandma’s house.  But on a normal night at home, we drank milk or water with our meals.  Now, it seems like soda has gone from treat to staple.  Candy was a treat.  Dessert was a treat and not an expectation after each meal.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  How do you reconcile treats vs. staples?

Passionate about food and good nutrition, Kelly, a BLEND Program Specialist for CentraCare Health Foundation, is also a mom who wants to set her kids up for a lifetime of good health. 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. This blog post is used with permission from our friends at BLEND.


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Monte Meyer – How to Get Thorough the Next Six Weeks

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 04:07 PM


The next six weeks or so are going to be challenging!  In different studies, the “experts” estimate that the average person eats 4500 calories of food at Thanksgiving.   And that’s not even including all the rest of the season leading up to New Years.


How are you going to make it through the next six weeks of foodapalooza – otherwise known as “the Holiday Season” without gaining so much weight that your shirt buttons shoot off your gut like bullets in a fire-fight?


It’s a pretty big question for many of us.  Well, to be honest, it’s a HUGE question for me.  Experts tell us to “marshall all our resources” in order to get through these times.  The problem is – the next six weeks are unrelenting.
The food – all the excess calorie-laden crap just keeps coming – it never seems to stop – at home – at work – at church – everywhere you go.  It can be such a mind-numbing tornado of food and drink for many of us.  We need a plan.   So in selfless service to our ABBOG readers, I’m publicly marshaling all my resources (whatever the heck that means) and telling you how I plan on managing the Pork-athon otherwise known as “the Holidays”.


1)  Am I hungry Scale.   I first saw this chart in the book “Am I Hungry”.   Mindful eating during the holidays is hugely important.  The food is good – but remember, we won’t starve if we don’t get 3 helpings of stuffing   I need to be mindful of what and how I am eating.  Here’s the chart I’m going to use.

11.15hunger scale


2) Do what the Skinny &%$#$ do - leave some food on my plate.    Now this is actually going to be challenging – in the back of my mind, I think it may be slightly un-American to not lick my plate clean.  It’s time to change that mindset.  I’m going to be intentionally mindful.  My fork will no longer be an auger.  I’ll set it down between bites.  I’ll listen to my body – think about the “Am I hungry” scale.  When I’m at a 5-6, I’m done.


3) Manage the desserts.  OK – I’ve put some serious thought into this one – because I can inhale a pumpkin pie with whipped cream like I have multiple digestive systems waiting to be fill-packed.   Here’s my solution: take a bit,  put the fork down, take a sip of water, converse with the person next to me, look around, crack my neck like I’m getting ready to lift some weights, then take another bite.  Rinse and repeat.


I may look like an idiot, but I’m going to enjoy this season – and even thrive during it!!


4) Portion my plate.  I’m not depriving myself of the good specialty Holiday treats, like stuffing, etc.  But I won’t die of starvation if I don’t eat a hillock of mashed potatoes or a dumpster full of stuffing.  Eat, converse, sip water:  portion control.   Enjoy how it looks and  smells, how it tastes, and how I feel.  Mindful!!


5) Be BOLD.  This is my life – it’s my health and I’m going to be selfish about it.  My family, friends and co-workers are not going to leave food with me.  And if it’s in my workplace – I’m going to politely ask them to put in in their office – where I won’t need to see it.  At this point in my life – I don’t need the temptation.


If I was an alcoholic – people wouldn’t leave booze out.  I’m treating treats the same way – it’s how I have to deal with it at this point in my life.  Some day I will not have to do this – but now, this is how it must be.  I can’t eat just one at this point.  Someday I will….


6) I’m going to get a really good workout before a big Foodapalooza event.  For me, working out to fatigue helps manage my food intake.  But this is tricky.  I need to really push it – to work until my legs and arms are shaky.  That combined with a good breakfast helps me better manage the rest of the day.


7)  Set my expectations high.  I’m not going to set myself up for failure.  I’m also not going to lower my expectations. They need to be realistic, but a little challenging.   We’re not kids!  Don’t set your sights too low – or you will get exactly what you expect.  This season lasts about 6 weeks.  I’m taking the challenge one day – one event – one holiday at a time.  And if I have a failure – I will forgive myself – pick right up where I left off- – and move on.


So what do you think?  Is this helpful?  Any suggestions?   I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas Season.  These weeks include a lot of food – but as we all know, it’s much more than food.  Be mindful – be bold – it’s your life.


Live it.



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Kelly Radi: Peek into Kelly’s Kitchen

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 04:09 PM

Menu Planning

As the summer turns to fall, I find myself changing my cooking habits.  We spend less time grilling outside and more time cooking in the kitchen. With busy school and work schedules, I try to stay organized and plan ahead for upcoming meals.  I find we eat healthier if we have a menu plan. And, if I plan ahead, I can base my meals on what’s on sale for the week. I do like to save a buck!

Last week, as I was planning ahead for upcoming meals, I asked the girls what they were in the mood to eat.  Without hesitation, both Brooke and Karen requested Chicken Lettuce Wraps. It is a dish we created by combining a couple of recipes from some of our favorite TV cooks.  We use boneless split chicken breasts, some fresh veggies and make a sauce with condiments already in our kitchen. The bargain hunter in me was in luck!  Chicken breasts were even on sale at Coborn’s last week.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Lettuce Wraps


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes  (NuVal Score 39)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch  (NuVal Score 3)
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil  (NuVal Score 24)
  • 8 Scallions/green onion  (NuVal Score 96)
  • 6 Cloves garlic (NuVal Score 91)
  • ½ – 1 cup fresh vegetables of your choice.  We usually use cabbage and sometimes red bell peppers.  Click here to see NuVal scores for your favorite vegetables.
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar or rice vinegar (not scored)
  • 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce  (our brand was only a NuVal Score of 1). These sauces score very low, which is why I dilute it with water and only use a small amount for  flavor.  Does anybody out there have any healthier alternatives to hoisin?  Please comment and  share!
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, if you like a little heat
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cleaned but NOT cut up (NuVal Score 82)
  • White rice (NuVal Score 57) or brown rice (NuVal Score 82), cooked
  • Chopped nuts, we use whatever is in the pantry  **Check out this blog –NuVal and Nuts!


1. Clean and cut scallions into 1-inch pieces, separating the white parts from the green parts.
2. Clean and prepare vegetables:  chop garlic, cut up cabbage, dice peppers, shred carrots, etc.  Remember you can use any veggies of your choice.  If you like pea pods, add them.  If you don’t like carrots, omit them. That is what is great about this recipe. You can tweak it to your taste!
3. In a bowl, toss chicken cubes with cornstarch and season with a little salt and pepper.
4. In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Add white parts of scallions, garlic and vegetables. Stir and cook for 3 more minutes.
6. Add the vinegar and cook for 30 seconds.
7. Combine hoisin with ¼ cup water and add to pan. Stir and cook for 1 additional minute 8. Remove from heat and add green onion pieces and nuts, if desired.
9. To serve, scoop the hot rice and savory chicken mixture into the cold, crispy, lettuce leaves and eat with your hands (like a taco).   Its finger food at it’s finest!  Enjoy.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps Chicken Lettuce WrapsChicken Lettuce Wraps Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What’s for dinner at your house tonight?  Do you menu plan?  What works for your household?  Please comment and share!

I hope you are having a healthy, fun-filled fall.
Warm regards,

Passionate about food and good nutrition, Kelly, a BLEND Program Specialist for CentraCare Health Foundation, is also a mom who wants to set her kids up for a lifetime of good health. 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. This blog post is used with permission from our friends at BLEND.

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Introducing: Bob Moore!

Monday, November 4, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Recently, while we were visiting our retail partner Brookshire’s down in Tyler, Texas, we met up with Bob Moore, a charismatic 81-year-old whose health regimen has made him an inspiration to people of all ages. We caught up with him and asked him what he does to stay healthy, and how NuVal Scores fit into his plans: 


You’ve made a great transformation! How did it start?

Back in the early 2000′s I had a “moment of truth.”  My blood pressure was off the wall; it had been as high as 204/105 and was regularly about 180/70-still too high. My weight was yo-yo-ing between the 240s and the mid 250′s.

My stepson is an Iron Man Triathlete, and we were in Panama City, Florida for his first full triathlon. I was so out of shape that I dang near had a heart attack trying to walk fast from the Gulf to where he rode a bike for 115 miles that afternoon. Afterwards, wading in that water, I asked myself: If I keep on eating and drinking like I am right now, and if I keep on being so fat and lazy that I won’t even get out of my big chair to get the clicker to change the TV channel, and if I keep buying pills to sleep, and lower my blood pressure, and to ease my aches and pains, where will I be in five years? I will be dead. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

I have walked every day since June 12, 2006 and have averaged three miles a day.  Since then, I’ve never been sick, never missed a day of walking or aerobic activity, and have posted my steps on So far, I’ve taken more than 19,800,000 steps, one at a time.

Bob Moore 2004  Bob Moore 2006
On the road to better health: Bob in 2004 (left) and 2006. 


What advice can you give people who are trying to get healthier?

I call it “WAFOXSL.” It goes like this:

WATER (lots of it)

FOOD (the fresher the better)

EXERCISE (up to 30 minutes of “brisk walking” a day

SLEEP (7-8 hours daily)

I got serious in late 2010 and now this routine is a habit. It is a process.

Bob Moore today
Bob in late 2012. 


What changed as a result of your new fitness regimen?

I Weighed 237 pounds in August 2010.  Now I weigh 159. I lost 78 pounds. Back in the 1960′s I was 254, and then it went up and down through the years. I am healthier now than I was 60 years ago.

The Texas Department of Health has used me as their poster boy, and at 81, I win a few ribbons and (my retriever mix) Gracie has one also.  It is good for the ego!

Bob Moore sign2
A billboard sign from the Texas Department of Health featuring Bob.


Did you change your eating habits?

Yes, I now eat to live, instead of living to eat. I have not had a soft drink in over two years. But I had to start with my attitude, then I changed my actions. When my actions became habits, then I saw results.


What does your exercise schedule look like?

I get up at 5AM. Why? Who knows?  When you get to be 81, you get up early. Gracie and I are on a paved path at the local park at daybreak. I use an app to keep track of time and distance. I get 30 minutes of brisk walking, and I work to go faster than a 20-minute mile. I usually run a 5K once a quarter. This year, I’ve been doing a 5K once a month.

The last two months I’ve been doing something new. About every hour when I sit at the computer, I get up and run in place for 30 seconds, take a deep breath, yawn, and sit back down. I do this between five and eight times a day. This sounds crazy, but it works!

BM Fitness Event
Bob with Texas State Senator Robert Deuell (right) and State Representative Dan Flynn (left) at an event naming Canton, TX the “Walking capital of Texas.” 


Do NuVal Scores help you eat healthier?

You bet!. My second meal of the day is cereal. There are at least 35 choices at the store, and the Scores range from 13-93. I get the Bite Size Shredded Wheat that scores a 91. I buy the Brookshire’s (Food Club) brand because it is cheaper. I think the low-scoring stuff is a major player in the obesity crisis. I tour the aisles at Brookshire’s and get surprised very often.  NuVal is a great aid in eating better.


What was the hardest part of getting healthy?

Discipline and consistency. There are no grey areas. Set time to walk, then walk. Set times to eat five times a day, and then eat. Set out water bottles, then drink. Set a time to sleep, then sleep.


I understand you’ve also led store tours through Brookshire’s stores?

So far I’ve done four, with different groups of different sizes. I get the folks there because of my talks, and Brooke Buffington from Brookshire’s explains NuVal as we tour the store (with shopping carts) and she is fantastic.  Some of these tours have created a great response and I think Brookshire’s gained new customers because of them. Right after these tours, people were telling friends how to “pick the big number” (NuVal Score) and were filling their carts with groceries.

For these kinds of tour groups to work, I think you need personal contact, and you need to relate it to the customer’s needs, and encourage customer participation. Jamie Oliver, the famous Chef, put it this way: “Our Supermarkets need a ‘Healthy Food Ambassador’.” Brookshire’s is doing that. Until the store manager explained NuVal to me, I had no idea how bad and how serious my food consumption was. My response at the time was, “How was I supposed to know what foods are better?” You folks (at NuVal) have put the gobbledygook in simple terms: “Pick the big number.”

BMoore Brooke tour
Brookshire’s Brooke Buffington (in black, center) leads a tour group in a Brookshire’s store with Bob Moore. 



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Monte Meyer: Oreos are Crack

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 02:49 PM

According to online articles from the Christian Science Monitor and The Atlantic, “Researchers at a Connecticut College have found that rats’ behavior toward Oreo cookies is not unlike their behavior toward cocaine and morphine.”


Gee – Alex Trebek, I choose the Jeopardy category “‘State the Obvious’ for 500 dollars!!”  I could have saved them the research dollars.  I know it’s true!  Oreos are like crack to me.  It’s no coincidence that Oreos comes bagged in LINES – and I can easily  do one or two lines of Oreos in one sitting.

“The researchers – a team of four undergrads led by Conn College neuroscience professor Joseph Schroeder – placed rats in a maze with Oreo cookies on one side and rice cakes on the other, measuring the amount of time the rats spent on each side.

You kidding me?  Rat’s aren’t stupid.  A Rice cake?  That’s no choice.  You give me a choice between an Oreo and a rice cake – I’m going to be hitting the Oreo like “Big Papi” David Ortiz of the Red Sox hits a hanging curve ball.

“That concept has been shown before, but remains important. In a 2010 study published in Nature Neuroscience, rats who spent 40 days eating bacon, sausage, cheesecake, and frosting (Note: someone please market that combination; I mean please don’t) became ‘addicted.’ They continued eating even in the face of electrical shocks. Non-addict rats did not. The researchers, at Scripps Research Institute in Florida, likened the brain activity in the addict rats to that of cocaine and heroin addicts.”


They continued eating even in the face of electrical shocks.   We may not be getting shocks but many of us can relate to the concept of “Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead”, when it comes ignoring the consequences of addictive over-eating behaviors.   All our goals and dreams for a healthier, slimmer future can be tossed in a split second to give in to addictive over-eating behavior.  Scientists have proven that our brains more or less shut off, until we get our “fix.”  And this is the type of behavior that needs to stop!

So what can be done about it?  Well, I’m not about to replace a double stuffed Oreo with a Rice Cake, even if it’s maple flavored.  For me, the best course at this point in my life is abstinence.  I can’t have them in the house; it does me no good.  Right now, at this point, I don’t want to have the option.  It’s better if they are out of sight, out of mind.

Eventually, my goal is to be able to have an Oreo, or anything else I want, as a treat, in a mindful, controlled manner.   To that end, I’m starting to work through the book  Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle by Dr. Michelle May.

It’s a good book.  My nutritionist, Erin Gonzalez of the Mankato Clinic recommends this book to me.  It’s available in hard cover and E-editions, so why not join me in reading it.  I’ll be writing about my epiphanies on this topic in the future.

Here’s to that day when I won’t need to main-line an Oreo!  Until then, may all our habits be healthy ones.  Have a great Halloween week!








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