Light Arnold Palmer with Cinnamon Basil Simple Syrup

Just in time for summer, this deliciously  sweet mocktail  has only 4o calories  and will be popular at all your outdoor events.

Last year  I  grew some of my  basil from seed. I was skeptical  about trying a variety of basil I knew nothing about; cinnamon basil. But the decision was fortuitous. The plants  grew to  about 25 inches tall with dark purple stems and  small glossy leaves fragrant of cinnamon.   I will admit, at first I was unsure how I would use this culinary herb.  But it ended up to be my most clipped plant, and it was fabulous in fruit salads, cobblers and in my Apricot Bread with Fresh Basil.  The decision to replant cinnamon basil again this spring was a no brainer..I ‘m excited to share some of the ways I’ll be enjoy this beauty, including in cocktails and mocktails for May celebrations (which just so happens to be  May’s  the Recipe Redux theme!) Here is our challenge:

Showers and celebrations with friends abound this time of year. Show us your healthy, colorful drink concoctions for festivities like bridal showers and graduation celebrations.

So  today I ‘m meeting the challenge by re-creating a non-alcoholic drink,  the Arnold Palmer, with less calories and sugar than the original version and using that gem of a basil I started from seed.  By using Truvia®Nectar instead of sugar in the simple syrup, I was able to control calories and carbs; each glass of  has only 40 calories and about 10 grams of carbohydrate. Making the simple syrup with several cinnamon basil leaves imparts a unique flavor complementary to both the lemon and the tea. Kick off the garden party season on a healthy note and serve your friends and family my Light Arnold Palmer with Cinnamon Basil Simple Syrup. Be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post  to see what drink concoctions my Recipe Redux colleagues are making for this month’s  challenge. 

Light Arnold Palmer with Cinnamon Basil Simple Syrup (serves 8)

by Diane Boyd

Prep Time: 10 minutes


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Truiva® Nectar
  • 7 leaves fresh cinnamon basil
  • juice of 10 lemons
  • 4 cups cold brew black tea
  • cinnamon leaf Basil stems for garnish


for the Cinnamon Basil Simple Syrup

1. Combine water, Truvia Nectar® and cinnamon basil in a small saucepan. Use a wooden spoon to smash the basil against the sides of the pot to release oil.

2. Bring to a simmer; simmer for 5 minutes.

3 Remove from heat. Strain to remove basil and pour simple syrup into a glass container . Refrigerate until ready to use.

for Arnold Palmer Beverage

1.For each serving, add ice to highball glass. Fill glass half full with  tea. Add juice from lemons and 2 teaspoons simple syrup to fill glass. Stir. Garnish with more cinnamon basil. Repeat for each additional serving.

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Slice of Hummus Appetizer

Fuel an active lifestyle and celebrate National Hummus Day, May 13,  with a  Slice of Hummus.
Disclosure: I received free samples of Sabra Hummus mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe, I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time. Opinions are my own.

I am forever encouraging individuals to eat more vegetables. Conversations about vegetables often prompt this question to me,  “Are you a vegetarian?”  I am not. My eating   patterns closely align with the  Mediterranean diet.  However, I adapt it to meet my nutritional needs and goals by  consuming more yogurt and milk than the typical Mediterranean diet. There is one part of the plan I  do believe is non-negotiable:  physical activity and enjoying food. It’s why I focus on delicious foods to  fuel an active lifestyle, and today’s post is no exception!

Have you ever asked yourself  one or more of these questions:

• How can I  improve my  overall diet quality?

• How can I better my nutrient intakes?

• How can I lower my  body weight parameters including body mass index and waist circumference?

If so, perhaps you  should consume foods for which there is evidence of an  association with improved  overall diet quality,  better nutrient intakes (including fiber and potassium), and lower body weight parameters including body mass index (BMI ) and waist circumference. One such food happens to be hummus, and I’m going to show you how to bring  this plant based protein  to the table as a  delicious appetizer. Start with Sabra classic hummus spread on a  toasted ancient grain mini naan (cut into quarters). Top with  chopped pistachios and a dried apricot slice. Finish with a drizzle of  honey. Enjoy!

Here are  five reasons, Slice of Hummus Appetizer,  is now my  go to appetizer:

  1. I’m  active and have little time for food prep. This is done in 5 minutes.

2. I  prefer to consume nutrient rich foods, but don’t like to disappoint my friends and family by serving up  something short on taste. No one will ever guess this appetizer is good for you.

3. I  want to eat more veggies and plant based proteins. And if you are wondering, where’s the vegetable  in this? It’s hummus (hummus is made of  chickpeas and is in the vegetable subgroup legumes we all could benefit from eating more of.)

4. This appetizer can be made ahead of time and it’s also easily portable!

5. In the unlikely event there are any leftover  appetizers,   they won’t  be wasted. The Slice of Hummus appetizer  holds over well when refrigerated until the following day, and they work for me as breakfast(yes I did say breakfast)  or a post-exercise recovery snack providing the 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein I follow after a bout of cardio.

Remember to eat your veggies, include physical activity daily, and enjoy nutritious and delicious foods in good company on National Hummus Day and everyday!


A Slice of Hummus

by Diane Boyd

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 minute

Ingredients (serves 16)

  • 4 mini ancient grain nann
  • 1 10 oz container Sabra Classic Hummus
  • 4 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • 16 dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon honey


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place naan bread on baking sheet and heat for one minute.

2. Cut each mini naan bread into quarters. Place on a serving plate.

3. Spread 1 tablespoon Sabra classic hummus on each piece of naan, sprinkle with crushed pistachios and top with dried apricot.

4. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

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Physical Activity: How Much Do You Need and Getting it Done in Less Time

Last month I attended a professional meeting , SCAN (Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). The  program planners gave me a gift: they made incorporating some physical activity into my day easy by scheduling an early morning yoga class on the first day, and  early morning group runs on all the other meeting days. Horray for an organization that practices what it preaches!

Let’s face it, somedays it’s easier to find time to exercise  than other days and most people consider not having enough time in the day their single biggest  barrier. I tend to agree, and although I  enjoy exercise, I’m not immune from thoughts of  skipping it altogether when  I get overwhelmed with work, or even when I have other things I want to do,  like planting flowers and working in my yard .
However,  I know that some activity is better than no activity, and I feel I can maintain my  fitness goals with the  solution of decreasing  my overall time spent exercising , but increasing the overall intensity of my activity.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans conclude that most health benefits occur with a minimum of 150 minutes a week (2 hours 30 minutes) of moderate intensity physical activity, or  75 minutes  a week (one hour 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. In addition, muscle strengthening activities that are moderate to high intensity and involve all major muscle groups  should be incorporated twice a week.

When work piles up and deadlines loom,  or  when I just want more time to enjoy my favorite hobbies,  I exercise harder, but  spend less overall time exercising. For example,  if I’m doing  strengthening exercises, I  limit the time between sets.  I can accomplish a 30 minute workout in 20 minutes, and keep my heart rate elevated as well. This strategy not only increases my efficiency, it’s one of the ways I  believe I ‘ve been able to reduce my fit age. One final thought before I close,  remember to integrate nutrition and  training by properly fueling prior to  exercise. A high carbohydrate snack is usually just the burst of energy I need to power through a vigorous workout.  Coming soon, my  favorite pre-workout snacks.)



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Salad for One to Save the Earth

When you’re too full to finish a meal, what do you do? If you’re like most of us,  the scraps on your plate often end up in the trash can. What seems routine and normal is actually part of a gianormous problem:  food waste. Estimates indicate Americans waste  between 10 to 15 % of the food they buy and more than half a pound of food per person is sent to the landfill everyday.  In Honor of Earth Day, April 22, the Recipe Redux is asking members to  show how they reduce food waste. Here’s the challenge: Whatever you would normally toss, use it up. Share tips for reducing food waste in meal planning, prep or using up scraps.

I consider myself reasonably thrifty when it comes to cutting food waste by shopping with a grocery list,  purchasing what I know I’ll  be able to use up in a timely manner, and trying to use the entire vegetable (even the part that usually gets tossed) as in my Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Radishes with Brown Butter. But here’s where I  fail; sending scraps of food left on my plate down the garbage disposal. Geez. Today I’m sharing  

I’ve posted on mindfulness before, here and here. It’s my preferred  way to self regulate intake, and I encourage my clients to learn this skill as a strategy to reduce weight or maintain a healthy weight.  I my humble opinion,  the mindfull approach is also  a way to fight food waste. Wastefulness is a subconscious act; being mindful will help you think before throwing food away.

On Easter  Sunday, and I had a little more honey ham on my plate than I was able to finish. Instead of putting it down the garbage disposal, I wrapped it in piece of foil and  and stored it in the meat drawer of my refrigerator. The next day I used  it in a  salad made with the few ingredients I had on hand: Romaine lettuce, radishes, and dried cranberries. A homemade honey mustard vinaigrette set off the taste of the ham in this simple salad.  The recipe is below if you would like to recreate it , but more importantly, when you’re too full to finish a  meal, don’t waste it! Put it in a resusable container in the refrigerator,  and eat it the next day. Even amounts that  aren’t enough for a meal can make terrific snacks.


Salad for One

by Diane Boyd

serves 1 Prep Time: 10 minutes


  • 2 cups fresh salad greens
  • 2 sliced radishes or any raw crunch vegetable
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1-3 ounces cold leftover ham or other scraps of food leftover from a previous meal

for the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt,
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil


1. Arrange salad greens on plate and top with radishes, dried cranberries, and chopped ham.

2. Whisk together ingredients for Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and drizzle on top of salad. Toss and serve immediately.

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Soft Baked Zucchini Bread Cookies

Soft baked zucchini cookies are not only a terrific  simple dessert, they’re one of my favorite pre-workout snacks.Staying consistent with a healthy lifestyle is important;   it’s not what you do once in awhile thats affects your health, it’s what you do on most days. My philosophy for better nutrition is eating in a way that  balances the goals of health with eating for pleasure. I do this  by  including the nutrient rich foods  my  body needs, without sacrificing enjoyment. I often modify recipes to boost the nutritional  value and still maintain taste. Like these..soft caked cookies  made with a combination of both white flour and white whole wheat, and  cutting back on total fat by substituting nonfat Greek yogurt.   When I ran the  nutritional profile (see below) I realized they meet the criteria I use for an pre-workout snack:

100-200 calories 24-40 grams carbohydrate, ≤ 5 grams fat, ,≤ 5 grams fiber, ,≤ 10 grams protein.

My family prefers cookies for dessert over almost anything. I’m glad they do, because  cookies are already portioned, and  they can be combined with other nibbles like  a piece of dark chocolate and a few dried apricots.  After dinner or pre-workout, these soft baked zucchini cookies are sure to please.
Nutritional profile: Each cookie is one hundred calories and 2.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 11o mg sodium, 17 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 8 grams sugar and 2 grams protein.


Soft Baked Zucchini Cookies

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (3 dozen)

  • 1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups 100% white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tablespoons cup canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons low fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Trim stem and root end of zucchini. Using a box grater, grate zucchini. You should have about 3 cups.

3. Place the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel or several layers of cheese cloth and squeeze to press out as much liquid as possible.

4. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, Greek yogurt and vanilla extract .

6. Add grated zucchini to dry ingredients. Pour liquids over the top. Gently stir and fold just until no more flour is visible.

7.Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets.

8. Bake about 10-15 minutes, or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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