Grain Free Lemon Zucchini Bread (3rd Blogiversary!)

Holy guacamole, The Lemon Wedge turns 3 years old today! Three years ago I had only taken two nutrition courses. Now, after what has seemed like both an eternity and a blink of an eye, I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (I still don’t think it that has really sunk in yet!) and almost have my Master’s degree in Nutrition. Now that I am a RDN, my mind has been overflowing with ideas and questions on how to expand my blog, start a business, and get a job, but at least for today, I am just going to celebrate how for I, and The Lemon Wedge blog, have come!

Celebration calls for a lemon themed recipe, of course. I am pretty lazy about cooking and creating new recipes, so the occasion has given me a good excuse to get back in the kitchen. My creation: grain free lemon zucchini bread (aka heaven in a loaf).

This recipe is paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and dairy-free (if any of those are your jam) – but most importantly, it is super soft, flavorful, and delicious.

I have included the recipe below. I wouldn’t change a thing if I were to make it again – however, I might try to add in some poppy seeds or chia seeds for some extra fiber!

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My adult outpatient rotation is officially complete and I loved this second week just as much as I did the first! As promised in my last post, I am going to share a little more about making changes. I think we can all agree that making change is hard, and I was reminded of this patient after patient last week. So many of them came in saying they knew exactly what is healthy and what they had to do but they just couldn’t do it.

That is where setting goals comes into play. I’m not talking about a goal of losing 30 pounds, normalizing blood pressure, or managing kidney disease – those are vague and don’t really motivate us to make change. Instead, I encourage patients to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.


Let me give you an example. Say you do want to lose those 30 pounds. What are some ways you will do that? Reduce the number of sugary drinks you have? Start walking more? Eat more vegetables? Those take care of the “Specific” part of your goals but now you have to fill in the M, A, R, and T.

Pretend our patient typically has 2 small Coke’s from McDonald’s every day (one before work and one after work). Here’s the patient’s goal:
S- Have less sugary drinks
M- When the patient only has 1 small Coke each day (until his next appointment with the Dietitian)
A- It is attainable because he will only stop at McDonald’s drive through after work
R- It is realistic for this patient because he is ready and motivated to make that change.
T- Every day

So this person goal is: Limit sugary drink intake to one small coke every day (an improvement from two he is having now). Doesn’t that seem more realistic than losing 30 pounds? – I sure do!

You can do the exact same thing with exercise and eating more veggies. I typically recommend patients have 2-3 goals they will work on each time they make an appointment. Once the goal is consistently achieved they can set new goals. For example, our patient here could set his next goal to be one small Coke every other day, etc. until he is no longer drinking Coke.

Setting these smaller goals that seem achievable makes patients a lot more motivated to actually try to achieve them. They know exactly what they have to do, how to do it, and how long to do it for. Remember, all the little things add up so even small change like this can make a big difference.

What are your health goals and how can you turn them into SMART goals?

Graduation and Travel Days

I am officially a college graduate! On Sunday, I walked at Case Western’s 2017 commencement and received my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. That means it is officially summer vacation, but so far I have barely had one minute to sit down. I was up early Monday morning packing up my apartment with my parents and made the drive back home to Michigan. By the time we got home I had exactly 48 hours before my family and I would be on a plane to Peru. The last two days have been filled with unpacking from school, more laundry loads than I can count, and packing again for our trip. I am writing this blog post to pass some time on the second leg of our journey– a 7 hour flight from Atlanta to Lima. I think this is the first time I have flown internationally during the day and had to stay awake on a long flight; so far we are only an hour in and I am not enjoying it. 

Now onto some food related topics. The last time I went on a big trip was almost exactly a year ago when I was studying abroad. Living abroad for almost five months, I kept a pretty tight budget (and so did most of my friends). Instead of eating at restaurants three meals a day, we often packed food for travel days and airplane rides and went to local grocery stores for turkey, hummus, cucumbers, and bread to make sandwiches for lunch. I had gotten so use to traveling this way that instinctively I stood in the kitchen yesterday packing meals for our long day of travel. After realizing that this was a family trip and I didn’t really need to do that, I still went ahead and packed my reusable ziploc bags with food for the day. I figured we would be eating out in Peru for the next 11 days and the food I packed from home would be much healthier (and cheaper) than most things I would find in the airport. 

I wish I would have taken pictures of my little bag meals, but I ate them before I decided I would share them with you…oops! Anyways, I will still share what I packed. For lunch: a whole grain hamburger bun with avocado tuna salad and some string beans. For dinner: a whole grain hamburger bun, mashed avocado, white meat turkey slices, and some lettuce leaves. If you couldn’t tell, we hand some hamburger buns and avocado in the house that needed to be eaten before we left, haha! I also brought an apple, a banana, and some string cheese sticks to have as snacks, but so far I haven’t really needed them. My little bagged meals have kept me pretty full and they were really good! I definitely would pack food like this again for future trips. It is such an easy way to eat healthy and wholesome foods while on the road (or in the air). Plus, I think I enjoyed my homemade meals more than I would have enjoyed the grab and go meals in the airport. 

That is all for now. 

I will hopefully continue to post about some of the health- and food- related finds in Peru, but if you would like to follow our daily journey, check out my Peru blog


Meal Planning

Happy Sunday! When I’m not living with a host family in Denmark, Sunday is usually my meal planning and grocery shopping day to get ready for the upcoming week. Being busy with class and homework makes it difficult to just “run to the store and grab something”, especially when the good grocery store is a 20-minute drive from my apartment. That is where the meal plan comes in. Every Sunday I sit down and figure out what I am going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks each week. This makes it super easy to put together a grocery list of everything I need, and it prevents me from coming home at the end of a long day and having a box of crackers and a spoonful of peanut butter for dinner. Here are some reasons why I make a meal plan (and you should too!):

  1. Less food waste. If you have a plan for what you are going to eat and only buy those things, much less ends up in the dumpster. Similarly, you won’t buy things you don’t need. We have all gone to the store and thrown items in the cart “just in case” we need them. But, if you already have a plan for what you are going to make for the week, there is no guessing what you “might” need.
  2. Saves you trips to the store. When you go to make your favorite pasta dish for dinner Wednesday, you will already have all the ingredients because you thought about it before hand. No more last minute stops at the store because you don’t have the ingredients you need.
  3. Eat healthier. Instead of grabbing for the cookie jar because there is nothing else in the house, you will have all the healthy snacks you bought based on your meal plan. You are also more likely to stick to a healthy diet when you have it written down.
  4. Creating a grocery list is easier. Most people already know that you aren’t supposed to go to the grocery store without a list. With a meal plan, it makes it easy to know exactly what you need and how much so there is no more aimless wondering through the grocery store grabbing each item that looks good.

Here is a template for a meal plan that I found on Google and there are tons more to choose from (or make your own!).

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To my surprise, my host family asked me to help them create a meal plan for dinner this week. I guess meal planning is popular in Denmark, too!

Happy planning!

A Sugary Surpise

And just like that, another semester in the books. With this semester behind me, it just got real that I will be living in a different country in one month, and I’m SO EXCITED. Of course I am going to miss family and friends back home (It is crazy to think that the next time I step foot on campus will be in August!), but I can’t wait to see where my study abroad journey takes me (literally and figuratively).

Anyways, during finals week, it is pretty common for college students to pretend calories don’t matter and 5 cookies will make hours of studying and three-hour exams seem a little better. Ironically, as a nutrition major, while you are chowing down Hershey Kisses and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups at the library, I’m sitting one table over trying to memorize all of the things that sugar is doing to your body.

Sugar is a tricky topic and always gets a bad wrap. Most people think anything with sugar is bad, but if I were to ask you, which is better: a Snicker’s bar or a cup of Cherry Chobani Greek Yogurt, you would probably say the yogurt is better. Guess what? The yogurt actually has more sugar than the snickers! How about Quaker Raisin Oatmeal or a Krispy Kreme doughnut? The oatmeal has more sugar!

Now, I am not saying to go out and eat candy and doughnuts instead of yogurt and oatmeal. The sugar in the candy is added sugar whereas the sugar in yogurt in natural lactose. Both types raise blood glucose and insulin levels (read more here), but natural sugar is more easily recognized by the body to be metabolized. Plus, yogurt and oatmeal are full of other nutrients that desserts don’t have.

This is just some food for thought. Just because something contains sugar doesn’t mean it is bad; it is the type of sugar that is more important.

Key words to look for one a food label which indicate added sugar: maltose, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, (anything else ending in –ose), cane juice, maltodextrin, syrup, malt, nectar, sorbitol, and too many more to name!

Note: Ingredients on a food label are listed in order by weight. If a product has added sugar, make sure it is one of the last ingredients rather than the first.

Fruit + Turkey = Fruiturkey

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day was filled with family, friends, laughter, and lots of delicious food, just like mine was. As my contribution to our Thanksgiving meal I was in charge of fruit for dessert, but in true Dana fashion, I had to try something new. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a cute turkey made out of fruit on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a shot. Here is a picture of how my fruiturkey came out.


Since I didn’t have much else to do on this lazy Thanksgiving day, this little guy kept me pretty busy. Trying to feed the tiny kiwi slices onto skewers was not an easy feat nor was poking the skewers into the hard melon, but after many hours of washing, peeling, slicing, and building, my fruiturkey was finally complete. All the work definitely paid off, and I was surprisingly pleased with how well he came out.

He made for a great centerpiece and it was much more fun to eat fruit, plucking out one fruit feather at a time. While a fruiturkey might be a little difficult and time consuming, I definitely recommend mixing things up at holiday meals (or everyday meals). Serving foods like fruits and vegetables in a fun, new way can make people (especially kids) more excited to eat from these neglected food groups.

In the end, just like all the other turkeys today, my fruiturkey ended up in many happy and stuffed tummies. Happy Thanksgiving!

Want to make a fruiturkey at home? Here is what I used:
Kebabs: Blackberries, blueberries, red grapes, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, green grapes, and pineapple
Body: Cantaloupe
Head: Pear with blueberry eyes and a strawberry slice for the snood (the red part on a turkey’s neck). I used tooth picks to hold the pear onto the cantaloupe.
Feet: Cantelope Slices