Hannibal Regional Blog


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Meal Planning

Meal Planning

Meal planning takes coordination and consideration of our limitations on time, money, resources and now, it is still hard to believe… a pandemic. Most people would agree limited trips to the grocery store is always best; now it is even more important.

When meal planning and making a grocery list seem like daunting tasks, here are some ideas of how and where to get started.

1. Decide if you want to meal plan weekly, biweekly or once a month. Take into account: budget, refrigerator/pantry space and what would work best for you and/or your family.

2. Take inventory of your pantry and refrigerator. What do you already have available? Making use of the food you already have is a great way to save money.

3. Find recipes that have common ingredients: chicken, beef, broccoli, minced garlic, milk, etc. Allrecipes, Mealime, FoodPlanner, and Yummly are all resources available to make meal planning easier. If you have limited time to meal plan or just prefer quick and convenient foods, it does not mean you are forgoing health. Products such as salad kits, whole grain cereals, canned beans, etc. can be incorporated into balanced meals with the right pairings.

4. Create your grocery list. Use a blank piece of paper, our provided meal planning template or one of the meal planning apps listed above.

5. If you are familiar with your local grocery store, organize your list to group items based on location within the aisles. Luckily, with advances in technology, online grocery shopping is another option for those who would prefer to avoid going to the grocery store altogether. Simply add foods and quantities to your virtual ‘cart’ and pick a time you are able to pick-up.

Once you’ve created your meal plan and have your groceries in hand, you are much more likely to stick to your plan and experience less stress related to mealtimes.


For your convenience, a one-week meal plan is available, click here

Meals In A Hurry

Make sure to look at the number of servings in each recipe!Meal #12 Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
**3-4 oz of meat= deck of cards
Nutrition facts for tortilla shells are based off La Tortilla whole wheat tortilla soft shells (my favorite brand)

Meal #1 
Bean and Cheese Burritos, 1 serving

1 Whole wheat or corn tortilla (<130calories per shell)
½ cup canned fat-free refried beans or 2 oz grilled chicken breast
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 slice fat-free cheese
1 Tablespoon fat-free sour cream 
1 Tablespoon salsa 
½ cup of corn 

Mix beans and taco seasoning together and spread over tortilla shell, add a slice of cheese and roll-up. Warm in skillet or microwave (45 seconds), top with sour cream and salsa, side of corn.  You may substitute 1 soft shell tortilla for 2 hard shells. 

330 calories, 4g fat, 59 grams carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 17g protein

Meal #2
Fajitas, 3 servings

9oz pork loin or chicken breast cut into thin strips
1 (16oz) bag  Birds Eye pepper stir fry veggies
1 packet low sodium fajita mix 
3 whole-wheat tortillas (<120 calories)
Topping per serving:
¾ cup low-fat or reduced-fat shredded cheese 
6 Tablespoon salsa
Heat skillet to medium heat, add meat, veggies and seasoning packet. Cook for about 10 minutes or until meat is done, stir several times throughout. (If using precooked meat, simply mix together with veggies/seasoning and microwave a few minutes, great when you have leftover chicken or pork loin). Top tortilla with meat/veggie mixture and salsa. You may substitute 1 soft shell tortilla for 2 hard shells (50 calories each). 

Per fajita: 400 calories, 16g fat, 32g carbohydrates, 10g fiber, 36g protein   

Meal #3
Chicken Marinara, 1 serving 

1 4oz grilled chicken breast
½ teaspoon garlic and onion powder or fresh minced garlic
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning 
½ cup marinara 
¼ cup shredded mozzarella or 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
 2 cups steamed broccoli 

Spray skillet with cooking spray. Season chicken breast with garlic, onion and Italian seasoning. Cook on both sides for about 5 minutes each or until no longer pink in middle. Top with marinara and cheese. Serve with broccoli. 

380 calories, 10g fat, 33g carbohydrates, 12g fiber, 42g protein 
Meal #4
Veggie & Black Bean Quesadillas, 1 serving

1 whole wheat tortilla
¼ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup leftover pepper stir fry veggies, cooked bell pepper, and onion strips 
½ cup black beans
1 T finely chopped cilantro 

Spray skillet with cooking spray and lay tortilla flat into the skillet.  Add all ingredients to one side of tortilla fold and press firm to hold tortilla together. Brown both sides for about 5 minutes on medium heat. 

290 calories, 9g fat, 48g carbohydrates, 22g fiber, 24g protein

Meal #5
Mini Pizzas, 2 servings

2 whole-wheat English muffin, split in half
1/2 cup marinara sauce (2 T per half) 
12 Turkey pepperonis (3 per half)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (2 T per half) 

Assemble pizzas, bake in the oven until warm and toasted. Make a bunch of these up at one time, then make into little sandwiches and place in ziplock bags for the week, or freeze for later. Can microwave too, but better toasted! 

2 “halves”: 230 calories, 6g fat, 28g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 15g protein
Meal #6
Teriyaki Stir Fry, 4 servings 

1 lb cooked pork loin, diced into cubes 
2 bags Birds Eye sugar snap stir fry veggies
1 cup instant brown rice, dry
½ Lawry’s Carb Options AsianTeriyaki marinade (I like the sesame ginger kind too) 
Great for when you have leftover pork loin.  So before you make this meal, have your pork loin, baked potatoes and steamed veggies 1 night, then transform your leftover pork loin and veggies into this the next night! This also freezes well. Cook rice as directed on the box, then add remaining ingredients and mix well.  

1 serving: 410 calories, 9.7g fat, 37 grams carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 39g protein. 

Meal #7
Tilapia and Rice, 4 serving

1 lb Tilapia
1 cup brown rice, dry 
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups Melody vegetables (2 bags frozen) 

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan and season both sides with lemon pepper. Broil a few inches from the heat for 5 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes or until slightly browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to overcook the fish. Cook rice as directed on box except using chicken broth in place of water (or use water and add 1 chicken bouillon cube). Place veggies on a cookie sheet in the oven, spray with cookie spray and salt to taste; roast at 350 for ~15 minutes or until tender and slightly browned. 

1 serving: 220 calories, 2.7g fat, 22g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 26g protein
Meal #8
Chicken Parmesan, 4 serving 

1lb frozen chicken breast tenderloins (boneless and skinless)
1 16oz jar chunky tomato sauce (~40calories per ½ cup)
1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
4 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese (1 T per serving)
1 small spaghetti squash (yields ~4 cups cooked spaghetti squash) 
Garlic salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Cut spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise and place flat side up on the cooking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until squash can be scraped from edges with a fork and is spaghetti-like. Place chicken in a casserole dish, season with garlic and Italian seasoning, and pour tomato sauce over top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in middle. Top spaghetti squash with chicken and tomato sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan. 

1 serving: 250calories, 7g fat, 18g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 29g protein
Meal #9
Mexican soup, 5 servings 

1 (14.4-ounce) can fat-free chicken broth
1 (14.4-ounce) can corn, drained and rinsed
1 (14.4-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.4-ounce) Rotel, tomatoes, and chilies 
1 (14.4-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
1 (14.4-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, whisking to integrate the refried beans. Simmer, then serve. Garnish with fresh chopped chives, 1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream, or salsa. 

1 serving: 260 calories, 1g fat, 50g carbohydrates, 15g fiber, 15g protein
Add 14 baked tortilla chips to make the meal 400 calories.

Meal #10
Sesame Peanut Pasta, 4 servings

2 medium green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sesames 
1/4 tsp cayenne, or more if you like it hot
2 cups diced tofu (optional)
4 cups cooked whole-wheat spaghetti

Serve with 2 cups steamed broccoli 

Combine all ingredients except spaghetti and tofu, mix well. Add tofu to the sauce and let sit, tossing to coat. Cook spaghetti as directed on box, drain. Once pasta is ready, heat tofu/sauce in microwave about 30 seconds. and pour over hot pasta. 
1 serving of pasta: 240 calories, 6g fat, 40g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 9 grams protein
Plus ½ cup tofu: 330 calories, plus 2 cups broccoli 390

Meal #11 
Taco Beans and Rice, 4 servings 

2 cups instant brown rice
1 can chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can Rotel
1 packet taco seasoning  

Cook rice as directed, drain black beans and add all remaining ingredients to rice. Mix well and enjoy it!
1 serving: 360 calories, 2g fat, 77g carbohydrates, 14g fiber, 16g protein
Plus ½ cup corn on the side= 420 calories

Meal #12
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup, 1 serving (when you are really hungry!)

1 10oz can condensed tomato soup + 1 cup skim milk
4 slices 35-calorie bread
2 slices fat-free cheese
Spray butter

Combine soup and milk, heat to the desired temperature stirring until smooth. Spray 1 side of the bread slice and lay butter side down on skillet. Assemble grilled cheese and toast on both sides until golden brown. 
1 serving: 500 calories,1g fat, 91g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 29g protein
Save half of the soup for another meal and save 150 calories! Use water instead of milk and save 80 calories.

Meal #13
Easy Mediterranean Pizza, 4 servings (this is a splurge!)
2 whole wheat Pita bread, cut down the middle to make 4 thin crusts
1 cup pesto sauce (use bottled or make your own)
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes 
1 cup spinach leaves
1⁄2 cup black olives
¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, asiago, and provolone cheese mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush mini pizzas with olive oil. Divide pesto sauce and spread evenly over 4 mini pizzas. Top pizzas with remaining ingredients. Place pizza directly on the oven rack for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

1 serving: 530 calories, 33g fat, 42g carbohydrates, 16g protein

Meal #14
Garden Vegetable Crustless Quiche, 10 servings
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups(6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups(6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup1% low-fat milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
Cooking spray
4 cups sliced zucchini (about 4)
2 cups diced potato with onion (such as Simply Potatoes)
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1)
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400°.
Beat egg substitute and eggs in a large bowl until fluffy. Add 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 3/4 cup Jack cheese, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, and cottage cheese. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add zucchini and the next 3 ingredients (through mushrooms); sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add the zucchini mixture and parsley to egg mixture. Pour mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup Jack cheese. Arrange tomato slices over cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove the dish from the oven), and bake for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and set.

Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Trying to eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and live a healthy lifestyle? You may think you are doomed with the upcoming feasts and Holiday dinners, but no need to worry! Getting through the holidays without weight gain is do-able with a little self-motivation, realistic goals, and a PLAN! The next 3 weeks will include tips to surviving the holidays without weight gain, along with a satisfying recipe, of course! 

Holiday Party Tips

  • Make a plan. Before you dive into every dish and dessert served up buffet style, check out your options. Make a plan as to what and how much you are going to eat. Get a plate and silverware, and sit down to eat!
  • Be realistic. Aim to maintain your weight during the holidays—not to lose weight. Eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can enjoy some of those tradition holiday foods later.
  • Don’t arrive at the party famished. You’ll be more likely to overeat. Instead, eat a small, low fat snack such as yogurt, fruit and low fat cheese or cottage cheese, or a half sandwich with lean meat before you head out to the party.
  • Keep the buffet trips to one. Choose the foods you just can’t live without or the ones that make the Holidays so special to you. Take small portions, eat slowly and savor each bite! 
  • Bring a healthy appetizer, such as a fruit tray, fresh veggies with a low fat yogurt or cottage cheese dip, or a whole wheat tortilla roll up with lean deli meat, low fat cheese and pickle. This ensures that you have a healthy option. 
  • Get enough sleep! Being sleep deprived can increase your appetite and lead to poor decision making! 

Mindlessly Eat Less

  • Keep a food journal. It’s an easy way to become more aware of what you eat.
  • Choose the smallest plates, cups and bowls. You’ll be satisfied with less.
  • Be the last one to start eating.
  • Serve the food in the kitchen, rather than leaving it on the table- you’ll be less likely to get seconds.
  • Take small portions and wait 20 minutes before deciding to get seconds- you’ll probably still eat less than if you took a large portion and did not get seconds. (Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll flatter the cook!)
  • Keep a reminder of how much you have already eaten (such as toothpicks from your appetizers). This will help keep you from overeating.
  • Limit pre-snacking to a few hors d'oeuvres. Studies show that 10% of our holiday calories come from these pre-meal foods. Focus on socializing instead.

Drinks to Your Health!

Alcoholic and Holiday beverages tend to pack a ton of calories yet provide very little nutritional value. In addition, beverages rarely satisfy hunger because they leave our stomach quickly. Choose more 0 calorie drinks like water, sparkling water and diet beverages and treat other beverages, including 100% juice as an occasional treat.

  • Instead of homemade or traditional eggnog (350 calories, 19g fat per ~8oz), try a low fat recipe.
  • Try your favorite coffee house drink with non-fat milk or almond milk and no whipped topping. 12 oz peppermint mocha with whole milk and whip (360 calories, 16g fat) vs. 12 oz non-fat, no whip peppermint mocha (240 calories, 2.5g fat). If you have diabetes or watching carbohydrate intake, try using Splenda, Stevia or other type are sugar substitute to save on calories and carbohydrates. Of course, with any sweetened beverage or treat, portion and moderation is Key!
  • Keep the alcoholic beverages to 1-2 drinks. This will save you empty calories and keep you healthy!

Weight Watchers Salsa Pinwheels


4 oz low fat cream cheese softened
3 Tbsp. of your favorite Salsa 
1/2 cup Mexican Style Cheese 
1/4 tsp. chili powder 
4 (6 inch) whole wheat tortillas

Mix cream cheese and salsa; spread onto tortillas. Top with remaining ingredients. May add lean deli meat slices. Roll up tortillas tightly. Cut each crosswise into 5 slices

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Nutrition Services
Hannibal Regional

These spicy zucchini tacos are a great way to use up garden zucchinis, and to switch things up to traditional tacos!


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1.5 cups cooked black beans (or kidney) or 1 can, drained/rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (plus extra for sprinkling on tacos)
  • 8 small corn tortillas (6-inch size)
  • 2 ounces Cotija cheese or queso fresco (optional)


  • Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno and cook until softened and lightly browned. Add tomato paste, garlic and oregano and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in broth, salt and pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add zucchini and beans, cover and cook until zucchini is slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove cover and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring often until sauce has thickened and it coats the zucchini. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro.
  • To serve, place a scoop (about 1/4 cup) on top of a heated corn tortilla. Top with queso fresco, avocado or other favorite toppings and additional minced cilantro.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian

Chickpeas (or more commonly known as garbanzo beans) fall into the Mediterranean/Greek food category and offer an abundance of health benefits. They are known for their high protein and fiber content, making them a perfect item to include for a meatless dish. The beneficial vitamins and minerals in chickpeas include potassium, vitamin A, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin C, and several more. I love adding them to salads, soups, as part of a grain bowl, and as a spread/dip when pureed. You can also roast them, making them the perfect crunchy salty snack or as a salad topper.

Roasted Chickpeas with Salt


  • 1 15oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (may also use 1.5 cups cooked from dry)
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika optional


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place chickpeas on a towel and let them dry completely. The key is getting them as dry as possible. In a small bowl, mix chickpeas with salt and extra virgin olive oil.  Then, align the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet so they can cook evenly.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. I turn mine around about halfway through and give them a little shake. 
  • Chickpeas should be golden brown and crunchy. When you remove from oven, add any additional spices you like: garlic powder & paprika is my go-to. I also like using sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and black pepper as a coating! 
  • Allow the chickpeas to cool and then enjoy as a snack or on top of salads or grain bowls.
  • Do not store in a closed container, allow the chickpeas to breathe – this will prevent them from getting mushy or soft. I usually store mine at room temperature, in a filtered container.

These Roasted Chickpeas are:

  • Protein-packed
  • Plant-based
  • Great on salads or with any grain
  • Perfect for a crunchy snack
  • Customizable (change up the seasonings!) I love simply salt, but also great with (smoked paprika), (cinnamon & sugar), (ranch seasoning), (turmeric and ginger), (“Everything but the bagel” seasoning), or other favorite combination you may have.

Chickpea Salad


  • 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons diced green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
  • ½ tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup diced tomato
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or ¼ teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium-size bowl, combine all ingredients.
  • Refrigerate for several hours to allow flavors to blend.
  • Serve the salad on romaine lettuce leaves or in whole-wheat pita bread pockets.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian