Dark Chocolate: To Eat or Not to Eat?

This blog post was contributed by Dietetic Intern Hannah Erekson.

If you’ve dreamt of eating chocolate every day, now you have the perfect excuse. Chocolate is well known as a sugary treat; however, research shows that dark chocolate (70%–85% cacao) provides several health benefits. Sorry to all you milk and white chocolate lovers, but they don’t count.

Here are 5 reasons why you should gift dark chocolate to your loved one this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Dark chocolate can improve heart disease risk. Cocoa contains a set of special compounds called polyphenols. These compounds work as antioxidants in our bodies to reduce inflammation, especially in our blood vessels. A rule of thumb to choose by is the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants.
  1. Dark chocolate can positively impact brain function. The polyphenols present in dark chocolate promote oxygen and glucose delivery to neurons in the brain, enhancing its function. The antioxidant properties also play a role in preventing memory loss associated with aging.
  1. Dark chocolate contains several important minerals. An ounce of dark chocolate will provide almost 20% of the recommended daily intake of iron for Americans. In addition, it also contains magnesium, copper, and potassium which are important minerals in the body to help regulate blood pressure and support nerve function.
  1. Dark chocolate can have a profound effect on your body’s metabolism. In several studies, those who consumed small amounts of dark chocolate had better glucose metabolism and lower stress hormone excretion.
  1. Dark chocolate can improve mood. Chemicals in dark chocolate encourage the brain to release endorphins and help you feel alert. Other studies showed that dark chocolate caused an increase in blood flow to the brain which may help to prevent cognitive decline.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Chocolate is a high fat snack. While dark chocolate contains both saturated (“bad”) and unsaturated fats, recent studies show that the saturated fat found in plant and dairy sources is not as bad for us as we thought. Researchers suggest no more than 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day due to its high fat content.
  1. Chocolate contains added sugar. While dark chocolate is usually lower in sugar than milk or white chocolate, it is often sweetened due to its bitter taste. If you are consuming a high sugar dark chocolate snack, it could potentially reduce the positive effects of the chocolate. However, it’s important to note that dark chocolate with less added sugar is a low glycemic index food meaning it wont spike blood sugar like other chocolates. Again, the darker the chocolate, the less sugar usually. Don’t be fooled by marketing, make sure to read your labels!
  1. All studies referenced in this blog used dark chocolate containing 70%-85% cacao. Be aware that most dark chocolate on the market will be less than 70% unless otherwise specified. Look for brands that say what percent cacao the chocolate contains and for words like “extra dark”.

I don’t think there is a better way to say I love you to someone than to gift them a healthy sweet treat. A healthy diet can certainly include dark chocolate but as with any sweet treat, moderation is key.

For some dark chocolate ideas this Valentine’s Day consider trying:


Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011;15(10):2779-2811. doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3697

Petyaev IM, Bashmakov YK. Dark Chocolate: Opportunity for an Alliance between Medical Science and the Food Industry?. Front Nutr. 2017;4:43. Published 2017 Sep 26. doi:10.3389/fnut.2017.00043

de Oliveira Otto MC, Mozaffarian D, Kromhout D, et al. Dietary intake of saturated fat by food source and incident cardiovascular disease: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(2):397-404. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.037770

Healthy Holiday Eating

Holidays are a magical time filled with family, friends, and food. But it can also be a time where you struggle with weight gain and unhealthy eating. Here at Harmons, we believe it is possible to enjoy the holidays and, with a little bit of mindfulness, maintain healthy habits. Below are our ideas for combining the joy of the season with healthy eating.  

Portion control

Overeating can be a tempting trap this time of year. With so many tasty optionsit’s easy to fill up your plate. One of the best strategies to avoid excess is to start small, for example, try using a smaller plate. This external cue allows you to enjoy all the food but in smaller more appropriate portion sizes. It is better to get seconds if you are still hungry than to try and push yourself to finish an overfull plate.  

Load up on veggies

It is recommended that half your plate is fruits and veggiesWith so many delicious vegetables side dishes available this time of year, why not take advantage and load up on veggies? Baked or roasted veggies can be tasty and healthy option. Roasted green beans, Brussel sprouts, or sweet potatoes can be used in place of less healthy and highcalorie foods like green bean casserole or candied sweet potatoesBe sure to check out Dietitian Genevieve’s blog on what’s in season.  


Many holiday dishes are high in saturated fat and sodium which should be limited in a healthy diet. Here are some ways to reduce them while still enjoying your favorite foods:  

  • Add Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in dishes 
  • Make homemade vinaigrette instead of using store-bought dressings 
  • Use fresh herbs to add flavor which reduces the need for added salt 
  • Replace butter with oil in your cooking  

Be picky about your beverages

There are so many tasty drinks this time of year, including eggnog, pumpkin spice lattes, and festive holiday cocktails. While beverages can be a great complement to your meals, they can alsadd extra calories with little to no nutritional benefit. Be picky about where you choose to spend your calories. Consider choosing smaller size drinks or better yet, substituting water. If you need a drink more exciting than watersubstituting sparkling water for alcohol is an easy way to still have a fun drink. Here is a great recipe for a mocktail.  

Stay active

Remaining active is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight and promoting overall wellnessAs the weather turns cooler, consider trying indoor activities. Rock climbing, yoga, or fitness classes are great winter options. If those are not your style, never underestimate the power of a simple walk– it’s one of the best ways to stay active. It’s also an excellent time to socialize and connect with friends, family or your furry companions.

Healthy eating even during the holidays is all about balance. Enjoy your food. Spend time with the ones you love. Treat your body kindly. By allowing for a little mindfulness in the amount and way that you eat, it is possible to participate in holiday festivities and remain health conscious. Happy eating!  

Intuitive Eating Principle 5

Discovering the Satisfaction Factor

Principle 5 marks the halfway point of our Intuitive Eating journey. This is a perfect time to talk about the keystone of intuitive eating; satisfaction.

Despite what our diet-obsessed culture might lead you to believe, food is an enjoyable part of our lives that should be celebrated!  Memories of birthday cake wishes, family barbecues, anniversary dinners, and cultural food experiences on favorite trips are all examples of how food can positively impact our lives. Diets teach us to subdue this satisfaction and “eat to live” rather than “live to eat.”  Intuitive eating teaches us to embrace the satisfaction factor. Eating foods that you enjoy and make you feel good is a fantastic way to connect with your body—which is the key concept of intuitive wating as a whole.

A point of distinction: there is a big difference between satisfaction and physical fullness. Let me demonstrate with the following scenario.

You’re visiting your mother’s house at the end of the day. As a result, you’ve been thinking about her homemade chocolate chip cookies all day long. She always has some ready. But alas, you’re on a diet. On arrival, you see the glorious cookies and you think to yourself, “I want to look good in my bikini this summer; I’m going to have carrots and dip instead.” You eat the carrots, you’re feeling full but oh boy, do those cookies look scrumptious. You eat an apple with peanut butter instead. Afterwards, you’re feeling very full but you still have a strong cookie desire. So, you eat the cookie anyway. Scratch that, you eat 3 (because who knows when you will be allowed to have them next).

This is an example of physical fullness without satisfaction. What you really wanted was a cookie—this was a special cookie loaded with memories (and plenty of chocolate morsels). You were looking forward to it all day! You had a really strong desire to eat this cookie. You tried substituting with fruits and vegetables you didn’t put effort into preparing. This prevented you from feeling mentally satisfied. Had we advocated for satisfaction earlier, how might’ve this scenario gone differently? Well, you might have enjoyed a cookie and moved on with your day, eating a lot less food overall, and feeling a lot less stuffed in the end.

If you’re not yet sold on allowing yourself food satisfaction, ask yourself this: how often have your food rules worked? Has restricting your favorite foods and treats actually worked long-term for you? Eating what you want, in an environment that is pleasing, helps you to feel more content with a meal.  Finding satisfaction in a meal helps you to not only stop eating when you’ve had just the right amount of food, but also to move on without food preoccupation or cravings.

You might be thinking, “Well, I really enjoy eating fried chicken and onion rings, so I’ll just eat those all day.”  Keep in mind the goal is to find long-lasting satisfaction—not just in the moment of eating food, but afterwards as well. Speaking from personal experience, if I eat greasy foods all day, I can hardly enjoy those foods because I don’t feel my best. In fact, I feel quite sick afterwards. Discovering the satisfaction factor means eating the foods you enjoy and really want, considering your physical needs as well. It’s a balancing act that comes with a lot of practice.

How do we find the satisfaction factor? Here are a few strategies you can try:

  1. Before eating, think to yourself: what do you really want to eat? Which textures, flavors, and smells do you want to experience? Chewy or crunchy? Salty or sweet? Sour or spicy? How do you want to feel after you’ve finished eating?
  2. Elevate your eating environment with a few of these ideas: clear the table, add flowers or a candle to increase visual appeal, play instrumental music, adjust the lighting, sit down at a table, take a deep breath beforehand to destress from the day, and/or chew your food slowly.
  3. Eating at the right hunger level can increase satisfaction. Are you eating when you are ravenous and don’t stop to taste the food racing down your gullet? Or are you eating when you’re too full to even think about what sounds good to you? Aim to eat when at a 3 on the hunger scale to get the most satisfaction out of a meal.
  4. Check in with yourself throughout the meal. Does it still taste good? Do you need to add a topping or sauce to really hit the spot? At what point do your bites start to taste less tasty? Is this a good stopping point for you?
  5. Don’t settle—“if you don’t love it, don’t eat it.” Stop eating it and find something else that sounds better. That way, you can be mentally satisfied once you reach physical fullness. Maybe you thought you wanted a slice of cake—but it’s really not as good as it sounded. You are not obligated to finish it.

Pick one meal or snack this week. What can you do to increase satisfaction at that meal or snack? Maybe it’s one of these 5 suggestions or maybe it’s something else you’ve thought of. Before you begin your meal, take a moment to note your meal and surroundings. Then, consider what about that dining experience is giving you positive feelings. Perhaps you record this in a journal which can help cement any takeaways.

Last but not least, let’s spotlight practical issues that come up when eating. Sometimes, you don’t always get to have a say in exactly what you want to eat (i.e. a catered event). But, you can practice eating what looks the most appealing out of the given options. Or, you can improve the environment by taking deep breaths, eating slowly, and enjoying your company. Perhaps you plan your meals a week in advance, so there’s not much flexibility in deciding what sounds best—that’s okay. Every food experience won’t always bring us complete satisfaction. Start with one meal and be patient with yourself as you continue your Intuitive Eating journey.

Please reach out to us at dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com for more intuitive eating information. 

Other parts of this series on the Principles of Intuitive Eating:

Part One     Part Two     Part Three     Part Four     Part Five      Part Six

Intuitive Eating Principle 4

Challenging the Food Police

The food police are the unreasonable set of food rules that declare us “good” or “bad.” These judgmental internal thoughts telling us which foods make us good or bad are developed by exposure to Instagram influencers, magazines, friends/family, societal pressure, or strict diets. Challenging the food police means questioning the validity of these food rules, and reframing them to live shame-free from food. Principle 4 of our Intuitive Eating journey will help make food neutral to your character: you are not good for eating a salad and you are not bad for enjoying a burger.

It’s impossible to have a healthy, natural relationship with food when the food police is inaccurately translating your food choices into moral character. The food police keeps you in the diet mentality rather than freeing you to eat according to your internal cues.  Here are a few examples of thoughts monitored by the food police:

  • I wouldn’t be a good parent if I let my kids eat more than 1 piece of candy.
  • I need to exercise today; I ate way too many cookies last night.
  • I couldn’t stop eating chocolate today; I’m such an awful person.
  • I ordered pizza for dinner, I’m so weak.
  • I chose an apple instead of a cookie today, I deserve dessert later.
  • I ate after 7 pm tonight; I need to skip breakfast tomorrow.
  • I ate a sandwich for lunch, I can’t have any bread at dinner.
  • Eating too many carbs will make me gain weight and people will judge me.

These are examples of external factors that dictate food choices rather than internal factors. Make food choices based on hunger, satisfaction, and personal health rather than diet rules from the internet. This will help you live a healthy lifestyle with food freedom at the center. Now say you avoid ice cream in the name of your own health, or you avoid burgers for personal preference, but then feel shame whenever you do eat ice cream or burgers–the food police still has a hold on you. No rules mean defining healthy eating on your own terms; guilt-free.

Do not feel shameful for enjoying foods. Your weight or eating habits are in no way a reflection of the type of person you are. The quieter these shame and guilt-ridden thoughts are, the easier it is to listen to how our bodies are telling us to eat intuitively. Here are some things you can do to start challenging the food police:

  • Create a positive coping statement when those thoughts creep back in: “My food choices are not who I am,” or “I can set my own rules.”
  • Surround yourself with friends and social media accounts that are supporting your journey to find peace with food.
  • Stay away from absolutes like “can’t,” “never,” “need to,” “must,” and “shouldn’t.” Replace them with permissive words like “can,” “may,” and “okay.”
  • Approach these questions with “curious awareness rather than critical judgment” (intuitiveeating.org).
    • What are your current food rules?
    • Where did these rules come from, and how do they get reinforced?
    • How do you feel when you break a food rule?
    • Are the rules you have in place effective in creating an overall balanced, healthy life long-term?
    • When do judgments or guilt-inducing thoughts tend to arise?
  • Use process thinking rather than linear thinking.
    • Dieting rules set you up for linear thinking where the focus is on the end goal. This can be dangerous when you make a mistake. Linear thinking might lead you to think “I messed up. I moved one step away from the goal. I might as well overeat because I’m already headed away from my goal.” Switching to process thinking can put the focus on continual change and growth rather than the end goal. That way there’s less pressure when you misstep. “I overate today at dinner, but I learned that permitting myself to eat pasta made me crave it less. Now I know to practice eating a portion size that will make me feel better afterwards.” The small wins will help propel you towards your goal over time, learning plenty along the way.

It is impossible to completely remove the food police from your environment. The diet mentality is everywhere, from social media to conversation. However, you can learn to look at these messages critically, question their validity, and make your own rules.  If you feel personal guilt or shame when eating certain foods, it’s time to challenge the food police! Develop a healthy lifestyle separate from your self-worth. 

Please reach out to us at dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com if you’d like to learn more about intuitive eating.

Other parts of this series on the Principles of Intuitive Eating:

Part One     Part Two     Part Three     Part Four     Part Five      Part Six

Healthy Living Meal Plan 2/8 – 2/12


Harmons team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists has curated recipes and meal ideas to delight your tastebuds and support healthy living. Check back every week for a new plan with fresh dinner inspiration. 

Meatless Monday 2/8: Southwestern Frittata

This Frittata is packed with flavor and so quick and easy it will become a regular in your family’s weeknight rotation.  This pairs well with a simple green salad.   

Tuesday 2/9: Grilled Chicken, Roasted Vegetables, and Rosemary Potatoes

Give yourself a break from cooking and pick up today’s dinner special. Our grilled chicken is served with sides of roasted vegetables and rosemary potatoes. Feed two for $7 or four for $13.   

Wednesday 2/10: Stir-Fry Lettuce Wraps 

This quick dinner is a fun, flavorful way to eat your veggies! Save time by picking up already chopped red bell pepper and red onion, and frozen minced ginger (a staple in my home).

Thursday 2/11: Southwestern Chicken, Rice, and Black Bean Soup

Either purchasing precooked brown rice or cooking brown rice in advance (it freezes well) will make this hearty soup quick enough for any night of the week!

Friday 2/12: Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Celebrate the end of your week with a delicious pasta dish! Much of the time it takes to make this meal is hands-off allowing you time to relax.

Have special dietary needs? Our team of dietitians can share recipes for gluten free, vegan, or other preferences. Send us an email dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com.

Check out the other Harmons Dietitian meal plans in this series.

Week One Meal Plan

Week Two Meal Plan

Week Three Meal Plan

Week Four Meal Plan

Week Five Meal Plan

Five Ways to Feel Your Best

What does it mean to be healthy? Most of us think about eating right and exercising, which are both incredibly important. However, consider that those behaviors primarily address physical health. Have you deeply considered the other components of health? 


Our team of Harmons dietitians naturally focuses on nutrition within the physical sphere and yet, we also understand addressing the whole person is essential for success. With that in mind, here are some tips regarding self-care that touch on the other realms of health: 

Relieve Stress with Home Remedies

We’re all spending more time at home, so take steps to make your home a personal sanctuary. Light a candle with a favorite scent when you get home from work. Place fresh flowers or a beautiful houseplant in a prominent place so you see them often. Plan a weekly bath with aromatic salts or support a local to Utah business and try a fun Soap Lady bath bomb. Don’t have a tub? Place a few drops of essential oils on the side of your shower before stepping in or try Soap Lady shower steamers for an aromatherapy steam. These are all relaxing ways to support emotional health. 

Practice strategies to avoid anxious eating

Many of us use food to cope with negative emotions, and actually, sometimes that is okay. If it’s your only tool though, it can lead to overeating which defeats the purpose. Be sure to use other stress relief strategies such as taking a nap, spending time with a loved one, meditation, playing a game, listening to an interesting podcast, or reading a good book. These strategies have the added benefit of supporting emotional, social, spiritual, and academic spheres of health, depending on the activity you choose. 

Support a good mood with good food

Nutritious diets are associated with lower rates of depression and promote feelings of well-being. Focus on the following five food groups for maximum benefit: 

Dark green vegetables which contain folate and other B vitamins. These have been shown to positively affect neurotransmitters that impact your mood. 

Whole grains like popcorn and brown rice are loaded with fiber and healthy carbs to keep your energy levels up and rumbling stomach at bay. 

Legumes such as lentils and black beans are packed with plant protein and fiber to keep you satisfied and brain nutrients like B vitamins and magnesium. 

Seafood, including salmon and shrimp, are full of delicious flavor, omega-3s and vitamin D—key components to happy taste buds and a healthy brain. 

Cultured dairy like yogurt and kefir are tangy, sweet, creamy and loaded with probiotics which may be associated with better mental health. 

Get creative with exercise

If you’re having trouble sleeping or are still feeling stressed despite having a normal exercise routine, it’s time to think outside the box. Try something new to you! It could be hiking outside with binoculars to go bird watching, finally giving yoga a try, purchasing a new tool like a pull-up bar or step to incorporate into workouts, or simply creating a new playlist to listen to on your next jog. Whatever it is, challenge yourself to try something new. The novelty will reward and inspire you.  

Lean into caring for and showering affection onto your pets

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in record pet adoptions across the country and in Utah. Research shows that simply having a pet is associated with better health. Some possible reasons for this are that pet-owners want their pets to be healthy and thus are more likely to go out on walks, and another is that pets have been shown to help lower stress levels. To make you and your pet happier, lean into treating them with some extra love. Try out a bowl booster to bring excitement to dried food, buy a new toy or puzzle game, or treat them to a new premium treat

We hope that this article provided some inspiration for ways to better feel your best. If you have questions or would like to work with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, please contact us at dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com

Healthy Living Meal Plan 2/1-2/5

Harmons team of registered dietitian nutritionists has curated recipes and meal ideas to delight your taste buds and support healthy living. Check back every week for a new meal plan with fresh dinner inspiration. 

Meatless Monday 2/1: Italian Eggs with 7-grain bread

Eggs for dinner? Absolutely! Eggs cooked in a rich Italian sauce will have you reaching for more 7-grain bread to soak up all the flavors. Harmons Garlic Marinara Sauce provides the perfect base for this rich, flavorful dish that will have you praising meatless Monday.

Tuesday 2/1: Korean Beef Rice Bowls

A tangy, spicy bowl featuring gochujang chile paste is the perfect mid-week dinner. Chock full of vegetables, this is one of our favorite dishes from the Food for Thought Healthy Living Edition.

Wednesday 2/2: Corn and Black Bean Salad with added steamed shrimp and diced avocado

A favorite amongst Harmons Dietitians, this dinner comes together in minutes. Corn and Black Bean Salad from our Kitchen combined with steamed shrimp, diced avocado, and a squeeze of lime will have you eating lickity split.

Thursday 2/3: White Chicken Chili

Five ingredients is all you need for this crowd pleaser. Throw them in the Crock-Pot or stockpot and forget about it…until dinner time of course.

Friday 2/4: Harmons Dinner Deal: Vegetable Lasagna

Take the prep work out of dinner tonight and enjoy the Harmons Dinner Deal.  You can choose two servings for $5 or four servings for $10.  Add a garden salad from our Kitchen and you’ll have a satisfying dinner all while barely lifting a finger.  

Have special dietary needs? Our team of dietitians can share recipes for gluten free, vegan, or other preferences. Send us an email dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com.

Check out the other Harmons Dietitian meal plans in this series.

Week One Meal Plan

Week Two Meal Plan

Week Three Meal Plan

Week Four Meal Plan

Week Five Meal Plan

Meal Prepping and Planning Made Easy

Meal prepping and planning can seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, but it doesn’t have to be that way. On the latest edition of the Taste of Harmons Podcast, Harmons Dietitian Genevieve Daly joins our hosts Chef Lesli Sommerdorf and Brandon Young to discuss the ins and outs of easy meal prep and planning. 

The very first step to meal planning and prepping is to make a grocery shopping list. Start by checking your pantry and seeing what you already have. We’ve made stock up easy with our How to Stock Your Pantry blog, which includes a pantry shopping list for beginning, intermediate, and advanced cooks. Put together by our amazing dietitians and chefs, all the pantry essentials you will need to make meals are included. 


Genevieve emphasizes that making a meal plan is essential to keeping your prep efficient and easy. She also offers pros and cons to meal prep and planning, including the tip that shopping from a list saves you money. With a plan in place, you are less likely to impulse buy and spend extra money on items you don’t need.

She also shares tips about the items you need to have on hand to efficiently meal prep, and also talks about some of the ones you probably don’t need. One of her must-haves is a sharp chef’s knife. 

In the podcast there are three types of meal preppers explored, and you’ll need to listen to the podcast to discover which one you are—or the one you aspire to be.

Effectively meal planning and prepping insures you are less likely to binge or order takeout food, which is often higher in all the things you don’t need, and low on nutrients your body requires for fuel.

Eat a Balanced Meal with help from MyPlate.gov

Checkout the MyPlate graphic above and visit the website to learn more about healthy eating on a daily basis. Half of every plate you eat should be fruit and vegetables (mostly vegetables), and that’s an amount that’s easy to remember. 

One of the things Genevieve really dislikes is food waste, and she recommends finding ways to repurpose food. Dietitian Jonnell Masson has a great blog post on reducing food waste. Check it out for some great ideas that are easy to incorporate in our household. 

For more information on getting started with meal prep check out Genevieve’s blog post here. 

Dietitian Services

While things have been different in our stores, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our dietitians are still offering nutrition counseling services—virtually—and they are completely free!

They are also providing you with a month’s worth of weekday dinner meals for healthy living.

Click here to learn more about our dietitians and the services they offer. 

If you enjoyed this podcast, you’ll want to listen to our other episodes. You can find them here. Recent episodes include Eating for Exercise with our amazing dietitians, Sarah Kiel and Heather Lieber. Another must listen is A Passion for Pastries with guest Chef Adalberto Diaz, creator and co-owner of Fillings and Emulsions. 

Genevieve Daly

As a teenager, Dietitian Genevieve Daly began watching cooking shows which sparked an interest in food. She has since tried her hand at various ethnic dishes and has developed a love for trying new recipes to serve to her lucky friends and family. Learn more about Genevieve here. 

At Harmons, we are lucky to have incredibly talented artists at each store, and we’re sure you’ve seen their amazing chalk art as you wander throughout every location. We’re excited to be able to feature some of their work as the featured art on our podcast blog. This art is the work of David Costa, who works at our Brickyard Store. 

Meal Planning and Prepping: Where to Begin

So…you’ve made the resolution to start eating healthier this year, again. You’ve decided you’re really serious this year, and are toying with the idea of meal planning to keep you on track. We all see posts online of people who are successful with meal planning, but what are the steps these professional meal planners took that have helped them get to this level of successful meal planning? Everyone has to start somewhere, so let’s dive into the basics of where to begin to get yourself on track to successful meal planning. 

First off, let’s differentiate meal planning from meal prepping. Although these two techniques are often used in conjunction, they’re very different and can help you choose what route you’d like to take on your meal planning journey.  

Meal Planning

Meal planning is focused on developing a system for your meals that week. This could be planning out a complete week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, or it could focus on just one of those meals for the entire week. There are a few pros and cons related to meal planning: 


Grocery shopping is SO much easier

No more worrying about what you’re eating that day


Locks you into a schedule

Food waste could be an issue if you don’t stick to your plan

If you’re interested in meal planning, our team of dietitians just launched a meal planning series to help! Check it out on the blog. 

Meal Prepping


May save time on busy days

Meals will suit your tastes

Can make mornings less chaotic

Often saves money


Can reduce flexibility or become boring

May not want to spend spare time prepping

May need to invest in containers/storage

Making Meal Planning and Prepping a Successful Habit


Look for ingredients that are versatile

Make batch cooking a habit

Have backup plans. Frozen meals can really help keep you on track!


Make yourself inflexible

Cook things you don’t typically eat just because internet people told you to

Forget about MyPlate! Keep your meals balanced

If you’ve checked out our dietitian team’s weekly meal plan (week one and week two), you’ve probably noticed that our menus include a variety of meals and amount of preparation involved. One night can be a fully prepared meal that just need to be reheated, another night could include convenience items like a stir-fry blend from the produce department that just needs a protein and sauce, and other nights can be meals that you’ll prepare in your kitchen from scratch. The real trick with including a variety of meals is to prevent meal planning burnout (oh yes, that is a VERY real thing). If you’re cooking a new meal from scratch every night, you may find that it is too much of a time commitment. Make sure you’re realistic with the amount of time you’re able to commit to preparing meals for yourself and take that into consideration when creating your meal plan. 

If you’re interested in how to develop your own meal plan, check out dietitian Ashley’s blog on the Secrets to Family Meal Planning for some simple yet delicious meal combinations to get you started. If you ever need help or would like additional inspiration, please contact dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com- we’d love to hear from you! 


7 ways to enjoy our artisan 7-grain bread

Guess what’s delicious, versatile, and Dietitians Choice? It’s Harmons artisan 7-grain bread! Your Harmons dietitians love this bread because it tastes fantastic, and it is 100% whole grain. Whole grains provide so many great benefits for our bodies. Those who eat more whole grains have a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Not to mention, whole grains taste great! Especially if it’s our 7-grain bread. Eat our bread fresh out of the oven, with a Dietitians Choice butter spread, or use one of these 7 ideas below.

This first idea is probably the most common way I eat our 7-grain bread. I usually end up freezing slices to lengthen shelf-life, and this is a great way to use up frozen bread! It’s a quick and easy way to incorporate a whole grain side into any meal.

1. Garlic bread. Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil, sprinkle with minced garlic and Italian herbs, bake at 375° for about 10 minutes.

2. Toast. Leave the bread as is for dry toppings, or toast the bread if you have wet toppings.

The possibilities are endless! This is a hearty bread—it can hold its own as far as toppings go so don’t be shy! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Herbed goat cheese + Harmons bruschetta + microgreens
  • Avocado + tomato slices + basil + balsamic glaze
  • Harmons almond butter + berries + chia seeds + dark chocolate shavings
  • Vanilla Greek yogurt + diced mango + coconut shavings + slivered almonds
  • Cottage cheese + roasted red bell pepper + hemp seeds + everything but the bagel seasoning

3. Healthier bread pudding. Swap regular bread for our 7-grain bread for a great way to increase nutrients in a bread pudding. Substitute some sugar for fruit for another trick to make bread pudding healthier. Try something like this! You can get away with serving whole grain bread pudding for either breakfast or dessert!

4. Croutons. Toss cubes of bread with olive oil or olive oil spray, garlic powder, salt, and any other seasonings you’d like. Layout on a sheet pan and bake at 350° for about 10 minutes, or until brown. Toss croutons halfway through. Serve with soup or salad!

Melt on some cheese to serve with a French onion soup.

5. French toast. This bread can hold your favorite French toast batter no problem! You can even try cutting the bread into strips and baking for a kid-friendly breakfast. Freeze the leftover sticks on a sheet pan for 2 hours and transfer to a bag for storage. When you’re ready to enjoy them, reheat in the microwave for breakfast in one minute!

6. Panini. Did you know you get to choose the slice thickness on our artisan bread? Opt for a thinner slice so you can create the perfect panini! Coat the outsides with olive oil, load on your ingredients, and grill over medium heat until toasted. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

  • Turkey + Gruyere + thinly sliced apples + jarred roasted red peppers + Dijon mustard + microgreens
  • Harmons chile lime hummus + Harmons corn and black bean salad + mixed greens + tomatoes + Bitchin’ Chipotle Sauce
  • Goat cheese + leftover roasted veggies (asparagus, broccoli, peppers, squash—anything will do!)

7. Panzanella. Substitute our 7-grain in any panzanella recipe to enhance the dish. The texture is perfect for panzanella! Trust me, this recipe is absolutely delicious with 7-grain!

Don’t forget about our 7-grain rolls! This time of year they are perfect alongside warm soups.

Check out our Facebook/Instagram pages this week to see how you could win a loaf of our amazing artisan 7-grain bread!

Reach out to us at dietitian@harmonsgrocery.com with questions.