Vitamin D: The Superhero Micronutrient

We’ve been hearing a lot about Vitamin D lately. Did you know that Vitamin D is critical to the body and has numerous health benefits in addition to boosting the immune system? Studies have shown that vitamin D plays a role in bone health and reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, stroke and more. Keep reading to see more benefits of Vitamin D.

  • Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and regulation throughout the body.
  • It is critical during pregnancy because it helps form the baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system.
  • Because it is so important for healthy bone and muscle development, deficiencies can lead to rickets and osteomalacia. 
  • Vitamin D plays a role in keeping the gut healthy by increasing the healthy bacteria in your gut. This also leads to a stronger immune system.
  • Recent studies have also shown that there may be a link between adequate Vitamin D levels and anxiety/depression. We have Vitamin D receptors in the brain that directly affect mood. Some scientists think Vitamin D deficiencies may be related to negative cognition and symptoms of anxiety/depression.

Not surprisingly, Vitamin D deficiencies are more common in people who have less exposure to sunlight. Consider getting your Vitamin D levels checked periodically to ensure optimal health!

Recommended Dietary Allowance:  

2-12 months: 400 IU daily for breast-fed infants

1-70 years: 600 IU

>70 years: 800 IU

*Talk to your  dietitian or doctor before starting any supplements.


Healthy Pumpkin Bread

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Healthy Pumpkin Bread


This delightful healthy pumpkin bread is great for the fall season and is low in sugar, vegan and naturally sweetened!




  • 1 ⅔ cups whole wheat pastry flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  •  1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)


  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Prepare 1 regular sized loaf pan (8.5 inch) by spraying it with cooking spray or lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together ground flaxseed with water in a small bowl with a fork and let it sit for a few minutes until a gel like consistency forms.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt).
  4. Combine the wet ingredients (pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, oil, applesauce and flax egg) in a medium-sized bowl and blend well.
  5. Add the liquid mixture to the dry and stir well until just combined.
  6. In a small bowl, mix coconut sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
  7. Pour batter into the loaf pan and top with coconut sugar cinnamon topping and place on the center rack of oven. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool before removing from pan.
  9. Bread should keep at room temperature for at least 3 days. For longer storage, keep in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 1-2 months.


  • Whole wheat pastry flour: If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, you can also use white whole wheat flour, 1 cup all-purpose and ⅔ cup regular whole wheat or 1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour. For a gluten-free option, you could try a gluten-free 1:1 flour blend.
  • Maple syrup: For a sweeter pumpkin bread, feel free to use ½ cup maple syrup.
  • Flax egg: A regular egg can be used in place of the flax egg if you don’t need the recipe to be vegan.
  • Original recipe found at:
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hr


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 146
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Sodium: 258mg
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 2g

Why We Became Registered Dietitians

Each registered dietitian at BN has a unique story about how they became passionate about
nutrition and why they enjoy their job. Continue reading to get to know the BN team a little

Carol Banister: “I grew up on a farm and spent 12 years in 4-H which provided many
opportunities to learn about food: cooking, baking, gardening, canning, freezing, even helping
my mom clean chickens. Gathering around the family table for meals was central to life. When I
went to Kansas State University, the study of food and nutrition was a natural extension of my
early experiences. Learning in Nutrition Bio-Chem class how a slice of bread turned into glucose
then into ATP for energy was fascinating. I realized my enjoyment of food and fascination with
food chemistry could be applied to bodily health and fitness, so I became a licensed/registered
dietitian. My career has included teaching at the University of Oklahoma, working as a clinical
dietitian at Presbyterian Hospital in OKC, and having my own practice for 40 years, which is the
best gig ever! There is nothing better than coming alongside my patients to provide counsel and
guidance for becoming a healthier version of themselves. When lab values improve, medications
decrease, and weight and physical activity reach healthy levels, patients become transformed,
happier individuals, making this fun and rewarding work for me!”

Lauren Northcutt: “My interest in nutrition initially started for personal reasons. I was a
competitive athlete in school and got injured my senior year. At that time, I started exploring
ways I could support my body in the healing process. Later, when I went to college, I decided to
take my interest and apply it to a degree at OSU. My personal interest quickly became a passion
to apply to helping others. As a private practice Dietitian, I am thankful I am able to use my
passion and knowledge to impact the lives of my patients.”

Autumn Sisneros: “Simply put, food for me is the fuel my body needs to be able to move and
enjoy all the things in life that are meant to be enjoyed — friends, family, and the world around
me. Even more, being able to share my passion and knowledge with others in a way that helps
them to do the same is a privilege that keeps me genuinely excited to come to work every day!”

Adrienne Radcliff Hefner: “I always knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field. When I was
a freshman in college I took a class that featured guest speakers from different areas in
healthcare. One day a dietitian came in to talk about how she helped people understand how to
eat in a way that supported a longer healthier life. I instantly knew that was what I wanted to do
and changed my major from biochemistry to dietetics! I love being a dietitian because I get the
privilege of working with a variety of people who are learning how to better their lives and who
inspire me every day.”

Jessica McCartney: “My interest in dietetics started with exposure to nutrition research by one
of my professors. After several years in labs researching the relationship between phytoestrogens
and cancer, as well as the biology of pre-term birth, I found myself wanting to have a closer
connection to the application of this research to patient care. With this realization, I started
working with a dietitian in a Neonatal ICU and returned to graduate school to pursue a career as
a dietitian. Through my research, I knew that nutrition had an important role in cancer prevention
and infant health. I continue to be fascinated by how many different fields nutrition impacts –
and the list of these continues to grow! I love helping my patients learn more about themselves
and how their choices impact their health and how they feel.”


Air Fryers:  What’s all the Hype About?

It seems like air fryers have become a favorite go-to for busy college students and singles. Why?  They cook quickly and can cook a wide variety of foods. Plus – not only are air fryers amazing kitchen gadgets, they save 70-80% of calories compared to traditional frying because they require very little to no oil. And they’re not just for frying. Did you know you can also use air fryers to bake chicken or roast veggies? Actually, roasting veggies this way makes them crisp and you can use any seasonings you wish. You can even use frozen veggies. 

Here are some additional reasons people are hyped up about air fryers:

  • They can do everything an oven can without heating your house up! We all love to save a little money where we can, am I right?
  • They are also great for reheating leftovers that normally would be soggy.
  • You can put ANYTHING in the air fryer for a quick meal. Check out recipes online for some ideas. One fun dinner I made in my air fryer was toasted ravioli!

Some foods you can cook in an air fryer:

Proteins: chicken, salmon, steak, shrimp, sausage, bacon, pork chops

Veggies: asparagus, zucchini, squash, green beans, brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, potatoes 

Other: chicken parmesan, ravioli, stuffed peppers, grilled cheese

Worth the hype? Maybe so!


2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for some last-minute gift ideas? Well, look no further! I rounded up some great gifts for your family and friends would love! Check out our list of some health and wellness gift ideas.

(These products are not sponsored)

For the Foodies

Snack Subscription Boxes

Universal Yum delivers international snacks right to your doorstep every month. They have created boxes from all over the world from countries like France that included sea salt chocolate to Egypt that had lemon chili chips. If you know someone that is adventurous and likes to try new foods, this would be a great gift! The boxes include sweet and savory snacks with a snack guide that has trivia and fun facts.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, By Samin Nosrat • Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

I love Samin Nosrat! I got introduced to her by her Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat. Her cookbook gives her readers a cooking guideline on how to build great balanced dishes with the baseline of elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat in the dishes (hence the names of her book). My favorite section of the book is dressings, vinaigrettes, and sauces. I am always looking for different dressing to add to my protein sources or salad so I loved how she incorporated a variety of dressings and sauces from different flavor profiles.

Omsom has a variety of East and Southeast Asian starters that combine all the sauces and seasonings all in one package so there’s no need to add additional ingredients. From Spicy Bulgogi to Mala, you can spice up one of your meals by just adding a seasoning packet to protein, and voila you have dinner!

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron Handle Skillet, 10.25" (1-3/4 qt.), Flame

Did you know that cooking on a cast iron skillet can increase the amount of iron that you are consuming? A good cast iron skillet is always a great gift no matter the season. They are great for making just anything. I like to use mine to get a great sear on steak, fish, or burgers. Don’t limit your cast iron skillet to just the stovetop. You can bake all sorts of yummy treats like cobbler or cornbread just make sure to butter those sides!

For the Outdoorsy Ones

Hammocks are nice and convenient because you just need two trees to set up and bam now you have somewhere to sit or lie down! They are awesome for when you go camping or just to have in your car so you can set it up anywhere you would like to relax in nature. Depending on the brand the straps to attach to the trees come separate from the actual hammock. So don’t forget to buy those too! They usually come in two different sizes, single or double.


When going on hikes or camping, I love to bring a portable speaker. This JBL Bluetooth speaker is small and compact so it is super easy to clip on your hydration pack or toss in your bag without adding too much extra bulk.


A travel journal is an excellent gift for those who are adventurous and spend a lot of time traveling (pre and post-covid hopefully). What I like about the Roadtrip journal Letterfolk is that it is passport-sized and it has prompts to fill out to remember your trip.

For the Eco-friendly Ones

Small changes can make a big impact when it comes to being more sustainable and eco-friendly. With more people being more eco-friendly, here are some items to slowly reduce single-use waste. These iteams are a really great way to make a gift bundle for someone that wants to start reducing their waste!

Reusable Bags

Beeswax Wraps

Organic Beeswax Food Wraps Bee Good Wraps Made in Oregon image 7

Bento Boxes

Bamboo Utensils and Metal Straw

Eko Bamboo Travel Utensils Cutlery Set: Reusable, Eco-Friendly, Lightweight, Portable – Spoon, Fork, Knife, Metal Straw w/ Brush + FREE Toothbrush Eko Traveler

For the Sporty Ones

Bored with your bodyweight exercises? TRX is a great way to change up your workout routine. What I love about TRX is that you set it up anywhere and you can train every single body part. It’s a great way to engage and strengthen your core strength. You can adjust the bands to make the movement easier or harder depending on what you want to focus on. There is no need to buy extra attachments or weights.


NordicTrack Percussion Recovery Gun with Interchangeable Massage Heads - -

Trust me, the person that gets this gift is going to enjoy this next one. You might even buy one for yourself! Massage guns are the best to get those tough knots out with minimal effort. If aren’t a big fan of being sore either, try using this for a couple of minutes after workouts to relieve your muscle and release that tension.


Why the Scale Shouldn’t Matter

I think we all know how it feels when you’re working so hard to lose weight, but the number doesn’t change. After all those sweaty sessions at the gym, it’s frustrating not seeing results. In reality, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. There are plenty of other ways to measure success!

Factors Influencing the Scale

Let’s get this straight. You are going to weigh differently every single day because there are multiple things that influence your weight. For example, you could weigh more today than yesterday because you had lots of salty foods. You could possibly be bloated. Your body mass can be changing. Comparing fat and muscle, muscle is denser than fat. Rather than just focusing on that number on the scale, focus on how you feel about yourself and your body, your progression in your workouts, or lifestyle changes that you are keeping up with.

Non-Scale Successes to Celebrate

  1. Waking up feeling refreshed
  2. Feeling more confident
  3. Lifting heavier
  4. Knocking off time your mile
  5. Being able to run longer
  6. Your clothes feel looser
  7. Feeling good about yourself
  8. Getting off medication
  9. Hard workouts are now a breeze
  10. Not getting winded walking up the stairs
  11. Choosing healthier options when eating out
  12. Drinking more water
  13. Being more in tune with your body
  14. Less pain and aches
  15. Exceeding your step goals

Don’t focus or be discouraged about that little number on the scale. There are so many success measurements that you should celebrate. At the end of the day, progress is about how you feel inside and out. Don’t be too hard on yourself! If you feel better about yourself, that should matter much more than the scale. AN

Diabetes Apps: Take Control of Your Diabetes Health

If you are living with pre-diabetes, type 2 or type 1 diabetes, there are many things to monitor to prevent long-term complications. You have the opportunity to directly influence the impact of diabetes on your health and life. You are in charge of the course of your disease on a daily basis, bite by bite and step by step.

A multitude of smartphone apps have been developed to help you simplify the management of your disease. As of 2013, there were hundreds of apps specifically tailored for people with diabetes. Now, in 2020, there must be even more! Diabetes-focused apps build bridges between data, patients, and healthcare providers. All the moving parts including food intake, carbohydrates, medications, insulin, exercise, blood glucose values, mood, and notes can be recorded and saved in one storage unit. This information can then be synced to generate reports for your healthcare provider to review at your next appointment.

Research is being conducted on the use of diabetes apps in relation to outcomes of diabetes management. Current research indicates that using a diabetes app results in decreased A1c, lower body weight, and reduction in waist circumference for patients as they become more engaged with their diabetes.

Selecting a diabetes app can be daunting because there are so many to choose from with many different features. Consider what your overall comfort level is with technology. If you love technology, one of the more comprehensive apps might be ideal for you. If you are over 55 years of age, you may be looking for simplicity without a barrage of bells and whistles. Most of these apps are free, and many have the option to step up to an advanced version for a small fee.

Here are seven diabetes apps that have received good reviews for you to start your app search:

Glucose Buddy:  Apple/Android- standard version. Free.

Glucose Buddy can track blood glucose, insulin, medication, food, carbs, A1c, steps, and physical activity. It includes an extensive food database, lets you scan bar codes to grab nutrition information from food products, and generates reports.










Diabetes Connect:  Apple/Android. Free.

This is a simple app to operate. You can track blood sugar, meals, medications, insulin. If there’s a feature in the app you don’t need, you can switch it off.










Sugar Sense: Apple/Android. Free.

This is simple to operate. You can track blood glucose, carbohydrate intake medications, blood pressure, steps. It will sync with your Fitbit. It also can access recipes and generate reports.










MySugr:  Apple/Android-standard version. Free.

This app tracks food, carbohydrates, medications, blood glucose, mood, and generates reports. You can includes meal photos with the “pro” version










One Drop: Apple/Android. Free.

One Drop tracks food, carbohydrates, blood glucose, medications, and mood. It has an integrated nutrition database and allows you to set reminders and generate reports.










Health2Sync:  Apple/Android –standard version. Free .

You can purchase a cable to upload glucometer readings to the app. For each glucose entry, you can add notes about medications, mood, exercise, meals, photos of meals. You can also track blood pressure, weight, and A1c.










Diabetes Tracker:   Apple/Android. $10.00.

Diabetes Tracker tracks food, carbohydrates, medication, insulin, blood glucose value, water intake, and physical activity. It has a built-in barcode scanner and food database. An additional feature is a GPS tracker to log distances for walking, running or bicycling.









You can google each of these apps and read more about their features online. Select 3 or 4, download, and give them a test drive. See if you feel a sense of relief because you have all your important diabetes info in one spot. You can easily see an overview of how you are doing with your management tools on a daily basis. This is you taking charge of your health and life. This is empowerment.







Home Exercises to Keep You Moving

It’s totally understandable if you don’t want to be going to the gym right now. For me, I really struggled to keep active and sane during this pandemic. Home workouts may not be the same as my gym workouts, but at least it gives me a way to destress to take my mind off of things. Here are some suggestions on what exercises you can do at home or while social distancing!

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a great way to train if you are wanting resistance training at home. Although they are much lighter than what you could do at the gym, you can increase your repetitions or sets to raise the difficulty of the exercise. So instead of your normal 8-10 reps, increase it to 20-30 reps. You can do sets of 4 or 5 depending on how easy it is for you. You can buy them at Walmart or Amazon. They come in different strengths so you can use the band that works best for you. 

Interval Training

Interval training is a great workout if you like a sweaty cardio session and want a quick workout. Interval training breaks down your workout into alternating periods of high-intensity activity and rest periods.  It can be used with bodyweight exercises or break down a run. One easy way to make your own interval workout is to pick five to six different bodyweight exercises like lunges or squats and do as many reps with good form for 30 seconds. Then, rest completely for 30 seconds. Complete the circuit three to four times. Other options are cycling, stair climbing, or sprinting. Instead of resting completely, active rest by walking or cycling slower.  

Free Weights

Invest in some dumbells, medicine balls, or kettlebells to amp your bodyweight exercises. They can add variety and increase the intensity while working on increasing your strength. Personally, I prefer to use dumbells or kettlebells because they are a little more versatile from using them for rows to squats.


Did you know that walking and running burn the same amount of calories? Just walking can be beneficial to your health! Take an evening walk in your neighborhood or park after dinner for a few laps and get your steps in. 

Outdoor Activities

Since the weather is starting to cool down, there are many places to visit if you want some fresh air. The 2020 Oklahoma State Parks & Outdoor Guide is a great resource to see all the nature that Oklahoma offers. In the guide, it suggests great places to go hiking, water activities, climbing spots, and other outdoor activities. You can also go on bike rides. Lake Draper, Lake Hefner, and along the river has great trails that you can bike.

Workout Apps or Youtube Workouts

There are plenty of virtual workouts.  They are great if you don’t want to plan your workout and need the motivation to keep going. They range from Yoga to HIIT training. Here are some of my favorite apps and Youtube channels I like to use. 

  • Nike Training:
    • Nike Training has a variety of workouts to choose from. You can choose the difficulty level, but also the specificity of the workout such as a core workout. There are workouts that focus on improving your mobility to a simple 20 minute bodyweight HIIT workout. 
  •  Blogilates:
    • Most of Cassey’s workouts are pilates based. She has a variety of different videos that either focuses on a specific body part or total body workouts. They range from a quick 10 minute or to a whole 30. What I like about Cassey is that she is positive and enthusiastic while being a great teacher showing you the proper technique.
  • Zumba:
    •  If you aren’t familiar with Zumba, it’s a dance-based workout that gets your blood pumping. There are so many fun Zumba workouts on Youtube. Just search your favorite song at the moment and you will most likely find a Zumba workout to it.
  • Sworkit
    • If you like customization and variety, Sworkit may be for you! They offer programs for yoga, cardio, strength, and stretching. You can choose how long you want your workout to be and add or delete movements to your needs. There are clear videos to show how to do the exercise to guide you through the workout.

Home workouts may not be the same as gym workouts, but you can adapt them to fit your needs. It may be difficult in the beginning, but start off with small achievable goals to help you get to where you want to be! That can be walking every day for 30 minutes or doing 2 strengthening workouts per week. If you struggle to keep motivated, have a workout buddy that can keep you accountable. Exercising is a lot more fun when you have someone by your side struggling with you. 🙂

Always remember to have warm up before your workout and cool down after to prevent possible injuries! AN

Back to the Basics – Buffet-Style

When it comes to mealtime, most people can agree that finding recipes that are both quick and meet everyone’s taste preferences all while being nutritionally balanced is no easy task. But what if there was a way to create a simple, nutritious meal that took everyone’s preferences into consideration (yes, even the youngest, most selective eater) and gave you back more quality time with your friends and family? With a little prep and a buffet-style set-up, you can make this a reality! Simply follow the tips and tricks outlined below for more time with the ones you love and less time in the kitchen.


5 Buffet Basics

#1 –   Choose a general theme and main ingredient (or two).

Think, tacos – baked potatoes – nachos – salads – pasta – yogurt – oatmeal. Place the main ingredient such as pasta, shredded lettuce, or yogurt in the middle and build around it. Try to grab at least one option from each food group (fruit, vegetable, grain, dairy, and protein). These can be cold or hot. For example, deli meat is a great, simple way to add a lean protein to any buffet.


#2 –   Prepare ingredients once and use for more than one buffet-night.

Try to think of meals that include several of the same ingredients so that you only need to prepare once. For example: tacos and loaded baked potatoes can both use shredded cheese, grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and shredded lettuce.


#3 –   Make it easy and use what’s already available!

This is a great way to use leftovers – think of last night’s brisket or pulled pork on nachos or leftover vegetables tossed into pasta – Yummy!


#4 –   Try to include favorites so that each person can find something they enjoy.

If this is difficult, opt for either a bowl of fruit or salad to include at every meal so that there is always a second option. This also helps parents to avoid the “short-order-cook” pitfall that we all too often fall prey to when we make special accommodations.


#5 –   Allow everyone to serve themselves (if age appropriate).

The key is to allow everyone to take turns, starting with adults so that the younger ones can have an example to follow. This is also a great chance for children to watch others try new foods which may encourage them to try new foods themselves. After all, monkey – see – monkey – do! Also, it is important to encourage everyone to take only one serving at a time and let them know that there is more once everyone has had a chance to eat. With small children, consider a divided plate to guide them.


Lastly, make a game of it and see who can get the most colors on their plate to maximize flavor and nutrition while having a little fun. For more fun and delicious recipes, visit our Recipe Page for more ideas.