Health Benefits of Pumpkin & Honey

Posted by Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN on

The health benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin is more than a warming fall flavor. In addition to being packed with plenty of carotenoid antioxidants, which support eye health as well as skin, hair and nails, pumpkin may even calm the digestive tract. Other studies suggest that pumpkin extract can have a hypoglycemic effect, benefiting those with or who are at high risk of diabetes, so ingesting it in it’s whole food form can’t hurt!

The health benefits of Honey

Raw honey has a slightly lower glycemic effect when compared to white sugar, so I try to use it in lieu of white sugar for daily sugar needs. That is not in any way to say I avoid refined sugar, as I’m sure it’s added to some packaged foods I buy and also is the reason frosting exists. However, since I know that blood sugar spikes impact my anxiety, I try to choose lower glycemic options when feasible and pair them with protein, fiber and fat if it isn’t before a workout.

Raw honey also contains higher antioxidant levels when compared to honey that has been heated (most honey on store shelves) and has been shown in research to be just as effective as popular sports gels in supporting endurance activity. 1 ingredient win right there!


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pumpkin muffins NAC

Pumpkin Muffins With Ginger-Spice!

A perfect fall recipe! Kick-off the season with these yummy muffins.


  • 1½ cups flour (whole-wheat pastry flour or white-whole-wheat flour; or combine ¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¾ cup regular whole-wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • ½ cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon orange peel (zest), grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick oil spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg for 30 seconds, until foamy. Add the milk, pumpkin, oil, and orange zest. Beat well. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until the flour mixture is moistened.
  4. Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops spring back when you touch them with a finger. Turn out muffins onto a wire rack to cool. Once cool, you can freeze the muffins, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months.

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Recipe written by Registered Dietitian, Joy Bauer. 

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NAC Chia Seed Pea Milk Pudding

Chia Seed Pea Milk Pudding

Blog written by NAC Registered Dietitian, Lisa James.

While I like to start my mornings with protein, I get tired of eggs and greek yogurt. You too? I’m loving my most recent food concoction. It’s full of fiber, protein and healthy fats. And it’s plant-based if you’re vegetarian.


1 cup of blueberries

1/4 of chia seeds

1 cup of pea protein milk

3/4 tbsp of agave nectar

2 tsp of vanilla extract


Mix all the ingredients together.

Let sit overnight, or for a few hours, and enjoy!

chia seed pudding nutrition label

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Everything Bagel Toast

Toast for a meal

The reality is that the convenience of toast makes it perfect for lunch and dinner on a busy day, too! What you see below boosts protein, healthy fat and veggie content so your nice and satisfied for hours to come.

Skip the bagel for a lightened up and more nutrient dense breakfast!

If you have yet to pick up Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning, I am not sure what you’re waiting for! It is perfect on top of avocado toast or cream cheese (Kite Hill vegan) and I even sprinkle it IN the eggs when I scramble them, too!

These meal also included some leftover roasted vegetables and was a perfect breakfast on a morning I had 4 hours before I could eat a balanced lunch.

>> More healthy toast toppings

Recipe & tips from Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD.



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Pre-Workout Fridge Clean Out Toast

If you’ve got 1-2 hours before an intense workout, the combo below will give you the perfect amount of energy without a blood sugar spike and crash.

Just grab what you have to use up and add it to your toast!

  • Avocado toast with some pesto mixed in and a few leaves of arugula
  • Coconut with almond butter and blueberries – this is a combo that you need!

>> More healthy toast toppings

Recipe & tips from Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD.

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On-The-Go Summer Snacking

Vodka Honey Lemonade

Enjoy this yummy summer cocktail during the hot summer days! With only three ingredients, this drink is easy to make and very refreshing.


Honey Syrup:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup warm water


1 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 ounce vodka

1 ounce honey syrup

Lemon wheels, for garnish


For the honey syrup: Whisk together the honey and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. You can cool and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For the drink: Put 2 cups ice to a cocktail shaker and then pour in vodka, honey syrup and lemon juice. Shake, and then strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

In need of more healthy and fun recipes for your next summer barbecue? Look no further than our own NAC Registered Dietitian! They are here to answer any questions you have about nutrition and they’re always happy to help. Did you know, your insurance might cover some Registered Dietitians consultations? Fill out the form below, send us your insurance information, and we’ll let you know how many visits you have covered. Get on your way to your healthiest self today!

Mini Meals for Fitness

So, fitness is a priority for you. You make it to the gym or hit the pavement 3 or more times a week, but because of your schedule, you exercise during what a lot of people would consider dinner time. That 5-7 PM time frame when your body is just exhausted from the day and hungry. But, you power through and make it to your workout. You’re either depleted until after or take one of those God-awful pre-workout supplements and call it energy. Then you come home and wind up eating a huge dinner, plus a large dessert (or second dinner) and feel overly full, wondering why you ate so much (again).

Evening fitness doesn’t have to be this way… and your stomach doesn’t have to be eating itself by the end of a morning exercise session, either! Embrace the mini-meal.

This post is written by Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN blog. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Luvo Inc. As always, I only align myself with companies and products that are in line with my values and all opinions are my own.

mini-meal is just that. Bigger than your average snack, but smaller than your main meal. They’re timed to give you the energy you need for that workout, without excess hunger during it, and then provide you with the right amount of energy, protein, and nutrients afterwards to aid in recovery from exercise and your busy life. Really, it’s like having a slightly larger meal split into two. And don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’re slaving over the stove for unnecessary amounts of time. As you’ll see below, companies like Luvo make your life easier.

luvo meals postworkout

I started recommending mini-meals years ago to younger athletes. I’d give a sports nutrition talk to teams, and parents were always concerned about their kids having dinner too late or having a large meal before a late practice. Splitting dinner into two is the logical answer {and I wish my 14 year old self knew this instead of having a teeny dinner and then bingeing on Reese’s puffs and PB at 9:30 PM after swim practice}.

The mini-meal theory is perfect for active individuals of any age, but harder to get adults to try because of the diet crazed world we live in – where people try to “make it” to dinner or have a tiny snack between a 12:30 lunch and a 5:30 workout. Your brain’s preferred energy source is carbs, believe it or not… oh, and yes, your brain uses lots of energy during the day, especially when you’re focused trying to be focus in the afternoon at your job. When you’re depleted, productivity plummets, as does your energy level and mood, and that evening workout is a struggle to get through.

On the weekends, I don’t think I’ve worked out without splitting my breakfast since college. For many people, Saturday and Sunday means not having to rush to exercise and/or a longer training session than during the week. Far too many people enter this longer workout under-fueled and as with those who don’t eat enough in the afternoon, wind up eating more than they wanted or needed after that weekend sweat sesh, too.

So, I have for you the art of building split meals, or mini-meals, and some examples of what to have – that are easy and convenient of course!

Your Pre-Workout Mini Meal…

should be 1.5-2.5 hours before exercise. It needs to be rich in easily digestible carbohydrates so they can fuel your exercise without sitting in your stomach. Still, you don’t want to load up on straight sugar or dried fruit or you’ll see a blood sugar spike and crash. You’ll want some protein, fat and fiber here, but not too much, since they slow the movement of food through the digestive tract, allowing for a steady release of energy and preventing you from getting hungry again before exercise.

Your Post-Workout Mini Meal…

needs to replenish the energy you used so that you have it to fuel your body and mind the rest of the day (or night), plus more protein than the pre-workout meal. This is also a good time to get in more of the fats we need for their anti-inflammatory benefits (and just because they taste good). Of course, you likely didn’t have veggies pre-workout, so this is where to fit in that nutrient packed produce.

Split Breakfast Ideas

Think of this as brunch split in two, since just a standard breakfast will be too small to fuel a long workout and normal life.

My go-to’s before exerciseOatspancakes, a couple of homemade muffins, or toast! I just recommend going a bit lighter on the toppings/fillings than if this were a full meal. Other than the toast, you can make all of them ahead of time, too.

The easiest option post-exercise? A pre-made veggie frittata or tofu scramble with a slice of toast and/or fruit. Or, how about some leftover shakshuka Want to make it even easier? Hard boiled eggs, of course, pair easily with fruit and nut butter, carrots and hummus. A high protein yogurt, high protein cereal and fruit will also do the trick. No cooking involved with the last two!

Split Dinner Ideas

One of my favorite options to provide heavier carbs in the preworkout half of dinner is to use sweet potatoes. Simply top with some nut butter and hemp seeds – and if you didn’t food prep any, just use the microwave! If you have a bit longer and digest food easily, top with some black beans and guacamole. Toast is an option here and I even have clients that will microwave some oats and add a little fruit and seeds. Another at work option is yogurt, granola and fruit.

At the end of a long work day and after your workout, I doubt you want to pull up a recipe and start following directions for your dinner. This is where easy pairings like eggs, frozen mixed vegetables, and minute rice can come together with a sauce. A sheet pan meal or simple grain, veggie and eggs may sound good, too. Or, some days you can turn to nourishing frozen meals {yes, you read that correctly}. Luvo has options that provide 20+ grams of protein and you can pair the meals with an extra serving of anti-inflammatory veggies from fresh or frozen.

Tim loves this Chicken Chile Verde meal that provides 19 grams of protein, but hits 22 when you add a cup of sautéed spinach. I love their plant-based meals that are easy to add a quick egg or two to, or some edamame to get what I need post-workout in no time at all.

luvo plant based






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