Sunday, December 5, 2010

Almond Crusted Tilapia with Browned Butter Sauce

I'm finally back to posting! I took a mini hiatus due to Thanksgiving and work but I have a few great recipes that I have been meaning to post from the past month! 

(Originally created on 11/11/10)
I love fish! It is so good for you...low in fat, filled with protein, great source of GOOD fats (Omega 3s!) and great tasting. But sometimes I get bored with simply broiling my fish with lemon (that way IS good though!). So while on my walk on this brisk fall day I got to thinking about what I could do differently and got a craving for a macadamia crusted halibut that I had at a local restaurant...I remember it being light yet satisfying and slightly sweet and nutty. 

I always keep almonds in my cabinet for a high protein snack along with tilapia in the freezer for easy dinners (great, low cost fish that you can buy fresh and then freeze fillets or you can also work with already frozen pieces), so I thought I'd give it a try! I still need to work a bit on the browned butter sauce but I think it turned out well for my first try and I'm excited to build on this :)

Here's what I did:

  • Tilapia fillet (maybe 4oz)
  • 1/8 cup crushed almonds
  • 1T whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1T butter
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Splash of FF milk, room temperature or warmed
  • Pinch of parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Dip whitefish fillet in whole wheat flour and shake off excess. Dip fillet in egg white and then coat in crushed almonds, pressing them into fish well. Place on prepared cookie sheet and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

For sauce: In a small saucepan or sauté pan melt butter over medium-low heat. Add a pinch of nutmeg and cook, stirring often, until butter is lightly browned (about 3-5 minutes). Once cooked, remove from heat and add a splash of warmed skim milk and pinch of parmesan cheese and stir until well combined.

I served this with garlic snap peas and roasted broccoli sprinkled lightly with parmesan :) Enjoy!

(Estimated calories per piece of fish- 340)

*Note- I only made 1 serving of this to "experiment" and thought it came out rather well! I think that if you just double, triple, quadruple, etc the recipe it should come out just fine! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Take-Along Egg Omelette

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day but I know, for a lot of us, it can be difficult to get it in. Sometimes you really just are not that hungry in the morning. Sometimes you don't have enough time. And sometimes you just don't have something that you can grab easily that sounds good.

I'm usually at the hospital between 7:15 and 7:30 in the morning so I try to sleep in as late as I possibly can (and by late i mean 6am-ish). That, combined with having a roommate to share a bathroom with and trying to get to the parking lot in order to make a shuttle TO the hospital, my mornings are a bit rushed and there's no time for a good breakfast until I get to my desk. Usually I stick with my go-to oatmeal or another whole grain cereal, rice cake or whole grain bagel with peanut butter, yogurt, fruit, etc. but I was getting so bored! 

I love a good, hearty egg breakfast so I tried to think of a way to take an omelette or "egg-scramble" to work with me. My mom is amazing and bought me these really great Avon multi-colored travel dishes that come with plastic sealable lids (and are microwave safe!) so I grabbed one and went to work on my experiment (which, I'm sure has been done by most of you! but it's new to me! :D ).

I had a package of pre-cooked turkey sausage in my fridge and grabbed that along with my farmers market eggs, red pepper for a veggie, shredded jack cheese and some spices. I whipped this together in about 5 minutes and stuck it in the microwave for about 3 minutes and voila! A perfect ready made quick omelette :) It was sooooo good and made our office smell like we were out for brunch (sorry girls!).

I did this the night before, stuck it in the fridge and brought it to work to microwave the next morning. You'll need:
  • 1 egg, 2 egg whites (or just 4 egg whites, or you can use egg substitute)
  • Splash of skim milk
  • 3 turkey sausage links, precooked (I used Jimmy Dean fully cooked) and diced
  • 1/4 cup Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped (could try mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, etc. too!)
  • 1/2 tsp minced dried onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
Beat egg well with splash of milk. Mix in cheese, sausage, red pepper, and spices. Spray microwave safe dish (mine is about 4-5 inches in diameter and about 2 inches deep) with non-stick spray and pour in egg mixture. You can either refrigerate overnight or pop in microwave immediately. Microwave on high about 2-3 minutes (may vary depending on your microwave so keep an eye on it!). 

This dish is about 354 calories and 35 grams of protein. 

I usually have it with fruit to bump my morning meal to about 400 calories and get some carbs in to get my brain going and hold me over until lunch :) If this is too much for you, you can always cut back on sausage (or remove it altogether!), add more veggies, use egg substitute and/or only egg whites, less cheese...make it your own!

Quick benefits of breakfast:
  • Boosts metabolism and helps with weight control: When you're sleeping at night for those 8 hours (right?!) your metabolism slows down and goes into rest mode. You're basically fasting all night and in order to get your metabolism going again you need to add some fuel (break-fast). Studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast every morning weigh less than those who skip out. It can also help to regulate your appetite for the day. If you eat a good, healthy meal in the morning it should hold you over until lunch so you won't overeat later on.
  • Increases concentration: You need food to stimulate brain activity (especially good carbs!) and help keep you focused at work or school. Also, if you skip out on breakfast and begin to feel hunger sneaking up on you mid-morning, you're less likely to be able to concentrate on that meeting or test.
  • So feed your brain and body and eat up! Even if it's something small like fruit and peanut butter or yogurt, a high fiber granola bar, cereal and milk, a whole grain bagel or toaster waffle, fruit smoothie, etc. just get something healthy into your stomach in the morning. Try to pair good carbs with lean protein and some fiber for maximum staying power. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let the Sunshine Continue!

Ahhhh....I will say, I just had a fantastic week in Florida! I was fortunate to vacation with my mom/stepdad, brother, sis-in-law, and the BF in Orlando and then head further south to Marco Island for a friend's wedding! We had absolutely perfect weather all week (mid 80s, sunny, with low humiditiy...!!!) and it was great to just relax and enjoy the sun.

Of course we had good food and to keep our eating costs a little lower we made sure to stock up on groceries to prepare our own dinners at night (we had a great condo with a well-equipped kitchen....two actually!). The family filled up on lean chicken, pork, salads, vegetables (roasted asparagus, squash!) and fish. On our last night with the entire family I was able to create some delicious chicken & fish tacos inspired by Food & Wine. I rubbed salmon filets with chipotle pepper and topped them with cabbage, fresh avocado salsa, lime juice and a bit of light sour cream and we also marinated chicken breast in garlic lime marinade, cooked that and pulled them apart for another flavorful taco filling!

Whenever I go on vacation I "try" to eat as healthy as possible ;) But really, on this trip I think I managed to do fairly well. When I'm traveling I like to try and sample all the local favorites as much as possible and being in Florida we had great access to a lot of seafood. I chose seared ahi tuna, grilled shrimp, mahi mahi, and grouper whenever we went out for dinner and tried to eat a fruit, a salad and/or vegetables with all of my meals.

Here are just a few ideas that I have to help you out on vacation:

  • Produce!!!!: My personal number 1 rule when I'm going out is at least TRY to eat a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal or as a snack if you can. Order a salad with your lunch and dinner or choose a side of a seasonal veggie if it's available. So even if you are indulging in that fried chicken, or a large plate of fettucini alfredo you are filling up part of your stomach with a low calorie, nutrient dense food...and that makes me feel a little bit better about my overall nutrition :) Stop at a grocery store or local market and pick up some fruit to have as a snack. Apples, oranges, bananas, and pears are all fruits that are easy to carry along with you and store in a hotel or condo and can be easily washed and/or peeled for an easy snack no matter where you are. Consider a fresh fruit salad with your morning meal in place of fried potatoes. 
  • Portion control!!!!: I'm a firm believe in having a treat now and then...especially on vacation! But try to keep your portions in check. Yes, go ahead and have that southern cuisine, ice cream, burger, Chicago Dog, Philly Steak, cheesecake, pizza, etc. but how about sharing a portion? I've learned many times when ordering a meal in a restaurant that my eyes were bigger than my stomach and that I could have easily shared my meal with my boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member. Not only does sharing cut down on the amount of food you'll eat but it will also save your wallet a little damage. And if you're still hungry you can always go for another entree, appetizer or dessert! 
    • Try the appetizer portion: Sometimes when I dine out I'll check out the appetizer section and order one as my main meal (and sometimes they are just as large as an entree!) along with a dinner salad or side veggie. I'm getting a slightly smaller portion as well as (usually) saving a little money or I can get more variety (ordering an app with another side dish and maybe even dessert for the price of just an entree). Case in point: when we dined out for our first lunch in sunny Florida, I got the appetizer portion of ahi came with a side of mixed greens with balsamic dressing and I was pleasantly satisfied for only about $10! 
  • Bank it: I love Bethenny Frankel and one of her mottos I think is just great. Think of your diet like a bank account. If you know you're going out for a big dinner ("spending a lot") try to "save" a little more at breakfast and lunch. Fill up with whole grain oatmeal, egg whites, fruit and salad during the day so you can splurge a little at dinner. Or if you are thinking that your morning meal is going to be your big treat then try to add more veggies and lean protein to your other meal choices later in the day. On vacation we bought donuts to keep in the condo and I just knew I would I allowed myself to eat them, but knowing that I would try to cut back on sweets later in the day.
  • Change it: People have heard it over and over I'm sure....get your sauces and dressings on the side and using limited amounts, get meats grilled or roasted without added fat if possible versus frying, ask for whole grain bread/rice/pasta/etc, ask to add vegetables if you doesn't hurt to ask! Quite a few restaurants are offering healthier options on their menus that still taste great! 
  • Try to limit your alcohol intake: I know, I know!! It's vacation...but did you know that there is approximately 100 calories in 1.5oz of hard liquor? About 120 calories in a 5oz glass of wine? 110 calories in an average light beer? 150 calories in a regular beer? Now think about how many drinks you might have on a night out with the guys/girls or just hanging out with the family?? And that is not including anything that you might be mixing with it (think soda, juice, daiquiris, margaritas, pina coladas, etc.)...this can cause you to take in hundreds of calories in just one evening! 
    • Interchange your drinks with water or another low calorie beverage (water is your best option...stay hydrated!)
    • Dilute your drinks with diet soda pop, seltzer/club soda, diet tonic water, use juice sparingly (try a splash of that juice and filling the rest of the drink with water or soda water)
  • Healthy snacks: Load up on those fruits and veggies mentioned above, low salt pretzels, baked potato chips, low sugar/high fiber granola bars (LOVE FiberOne bars!), whole grain bread with peanut butter, nuts, dry whole grain cereal, bottled water, etc. for when hunger strikes and you're not quite ready for that next meal. That way you (and the kids!) won't be ravishing once you're ready to sit down to lunch or dinner and won't overeat. 
  • Make sure to stay hydrated with low calorie drinks (stated above)...sometimes you really may confuse hunger with thirst so down a cup of water when a hunger pang strikes before going for the junk. 
These are just a few of the tips I have for healthy eating on vacation! A tip for physical activity on vacation is always bring good shoes!!! If you have a good pair of walking/running shoes with you I think you're more likely to be active! Walk as much as possible...even if it just means around the parking lot or the property of the hotel you're staying at. Take advantage of the hotel gym (call ahead or check the website to see if one's available) and hit it up for a quick morning workout (even 20-30 minutes is something!!) before you head off for fun activities. If you are sight-seeing...get out of the car and walk everywhere you can! Swim! Hike! Bike! 

Most of all...have fun!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jerk Chicken with Sweet & Sour Quinoa

If you've been reading my posts lately you probably know that I've fallen in love with quinoa! It is a great whole grain loaded with fiber, vitamins and protein and it also tastes good plain and also can be incorporated into a lot of dishes. When I was at the store last week I bought a bag of individually wrapped chicken breasts (great for freezing and pulling out individual portions!) and some Jerk marinade that I thought looked great. Mrs. Dash has a great line of low sodium varieties that taste so good! Check them out :) 

So tonight I wanted something flavorful and easy (as usual!) so I pulled out a couple of chicken breasts from the freezer to thaw while I went to the gym for my workout. By the time I got home they were almost thawed so I covered them in a few tablespoons of marinade and let it sit while I showered and prepped the rest of the meal (about 30-45 minutes).   

I had been thinking about a good side dish to compliment the jerk flavors and kept thinking about pineapple and bell I thought, why not try a sweet & sour type side dish. It turned out great!! I loved this meal...full of flavor, easy and very low in fat! Here's what I did:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless
  • Jerk Marinade (I used store bought)
  • 1/2 Cup Quinoa
  • 1/4 Cup Pineapple Juice
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • Thick slice of Onion, chopped into large chunks
  • 1/2 Large Red Bell Pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 Cup Pineapple chunks
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Squeeze of lime juice
Marinate chicken for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you can prepare all your veggies and pineapple. Mix water and pineapple juice in a small saucepan. Add in your quinoa and bring to a boil. Cover and turn to low heat to simmer for about 15 minutes. While this is cooking and the chicken is marinating, sauté pineapple, onion and pepper in a non-stick pan coated in cooking spray over medium heat until pineapple and onion are slightly caramelized and pepper is still crisp tender (may need to cook the pineapple and onion a few minutes first and then add in bell pepper). Once the produce is cooked and quinoa is done add quinoa to the veggies and sauté with a splash of soy sauce and lime juice for a few minutes over medium heat to allow flavors to combine.

Cook chicken in a sauté pan over medium high heat about 3-5 minutes per side until cooked through. 

I served this with a simple side of sliced garden fresh cucumbers from the market sprinkled with a bit of kosher salt like mom used to! This was always a go-to healthy meal accompaniment in my family and we loved it :) 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Not-So-Fried Green Tomatoes

So just a disclaimer to everyone: I have NEVER, I mean never ever made fried green tomatoes before and have really only eaten them once in my life at one of the best restaurants I've been to in Baltimore (Miss Shirley' great!). So this was my first attempt at them after seeing some great looking green tomatoes at the farmers market a couple weeks ago...and my attempt to make them healthier. 


  • Green tomatoes, sliced into about 1/2" thick slices
  • Low fat butter milk, q.b.
  • Italian Bread Crumbs, q.b.
  • Sugar, q.b.
  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thin
  • Pesto (homemade or store bought!), q.b. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Soak tomato slices in buttermilk for just a few minutes (I did this while slicing the mozzarella and getting out my bread crumbs, preparing my cookie sheet, etc.).

Mix breadcrumbs (I used about a cup) and some sugar (I used about a teaspoon just to give it a hint of sweetness to add to the tomatoes and help caramelize them a bit).

Shake off excess buttermilk from the slices as you lightly coat them in the bread crumb mix (usually I use whole wheat bread crumbs but didn't have any left and just used regular today).  Placed on a well greased cookie sheet in the top 3rd of your oven (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. I turned mine a few times to make sure both sides were golden brown.

Layer slices with fresh mozzarella and top with a few teaspoons of pesto. Voila! Can be served as an appetizer, main dish or side. Kind of a twist on a caprese salad :) I didn't realize until it was all on the plate how "green" my dinner turned out to be....kinda missed the rainbow on this one but still good for you ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chiles Rellenos :D

So a couple months ago my roomie and some friends got together to make this and it was just soooo amazing that when I saw some poblano peppers at the farmers market last week I just had to make them again! I also picked up some fresh cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and a mixture of cheeses (I used pepper jack and a garlic/herb cheese from local farmers in this instead) to make my chiles. 

Now, I'm not saying this is the most healthy dish but it really isn't too terrible. Most of your calories and fat are coming from cheese so I may try to make this again and add some extra veggies (maybe some bell pepper? squash?) to the cheese mixture to decrease the amount of cheese used and bump up the nutrients. I served with it some whole grain Santa Fe style rice (love the 90 second rice in a bag!! this dish does take quite a bit of time to prepare so I wanted my side dish to be super easy). 

Beware!! It is pretty spicy...especially since I added pepper jack cheese instead of regular jack cheese. But modify it based on how hot you like your food :) Maybe cut back on the jalepeno...add more...or add your own twist :) 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Great Lunches

With all the kiddies going back to school these past couple weeks I've been getting lots of questions from parents about healthy fun options for lunches. This is something that I think about a lot, not only for kids but adults too! Packing lunch is a great way to stay healthy and spend less money...but sometimes it gets so boring and people get stuck in ruts. Plain ol' PB&J and turkey sandwiches can get pretty boring. So I've been coming up with snack and meal ideas that kids AND adults can pack to take to school and/or work.

One thing that I found this week are those Arnold's sandwich thins! I know, I know..they've been out for a while but I've never tried them until this week when I was shopping for my own lunches. I believe Pepperidge Farms also has Deli Flats. With 100 calories per thin and 5 grams of fiber I was in heaven! They also taste great (I like them much more than regular bread for my sandwiches, honestly!).

I bought some cajun spiced turkey breast from the deli along with some pepper jack cheese sliced extra thin (I think each slice ended up being about 0.5 ounces), avocado, tomatoes, and organic romaine lettuce to make my sandwiches extra yummy! I mash about 1/4 avocado and mix with a bit of garlic powder to add a bit more flavor to the sandwich and it really made me excited for my lunchtime sandwich!

I also got some Garden Salsa Sunchips, fat free greek yogurt (plain, honey and strawberry), kiwis, bananas, nectarines, strawberries (on sale!), angel food cake dessert cups, frozen veggies, Delmonte Fruit Naturals fruit cups, frozen chicken breasts, pretzel thins, and Babybel cheese (love these!).

So my lunch tips:

  • Make your sandwiches more interesting! 
    • Use different meats (they have honey roasted ham and turkey, spiced meats..think cajun, peppered, herbed, etc...lean roast beef, chicken, etc); 
    • Try making veggie sandwiches with eggplant, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, basil, spinach, squash, etc. and cheese (think Feta, provolone, fresh mozzarella)
    • Add a variety of vegetables TO your meat sandwiches
    • Top with flavored spreads like hummus, light mayo (try mixing with garlic and herbs or hot sauce= yum!), mashed avocado, whole grain or spicy mustard, hot sauce, plain yogurt, etc. If you are using mayo or avocado that are high in fat (even though it can be good fat) make sure you use them sparingly to avoid too many calories from fat. You just want enough for the flavor, not enough to overpower the meal. 
    • Vary your breads- I already mentioned the sandwich thins but there are so many other whole grain options that are delicious too! Try whole grain oatmeal, multi-grains, honey whole wheat, breads with seeds and nuts in them, mini dinner rolls (kids love this!), pretzel sandwich rolls (if they are large just use half!), whole grain bagels and English muffins (again, try out the mini bagels for sandwiches with kids), pita pockets, whole wheat tortillas, etc.
    • Bring back old favorites- yes, PB&J with natural peanut butter and all-fruit jam really is a tasty healthy treat! I also love whole grain bread with peanut butter, honey and banana.
  • Try snacking it! - Kids and adults alike love snacking for meals. Try cheese sticks or mini babybel cheese with crackers, baked chips or pretzels, fresh veggies (sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, zucchini/yellow squash, bell peppers, fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower, fresh string beans, etc) with low fat dips (hummus, dressings), low fat/fat free puddings and yogurts, fresh fruit and fresh fruit cups, rice cakes and peanut butter, 100 calorie snack packs, deli meats rolled with cheese slices, etc.
  • Utilize your left-overs! Make sure to buy a few ice packs to freeze and place in a reusable lunch bag to keep foods safe or freeze mini bottles of water or 100% juice.
    • Add last night's baked chicken, pork or beef to a salad or sandwich/pita
    • Make leftover pasta into a pasta salad with light Italian dressing, fresh veggies, turkey pepperoni, and some cheese
    • Mix rice, quinoa or couscous with cooked veggies for a nice healthy side
    • Pizza (topped with veggies and lean protein!) is great left over
    • Store cooked veggies, soups/stews, casseroles in small microwave safe plastic containers to take along
  • Frozen meals are always a convenient option if you don't have time to pack a lunch or just want something quick and easy. Now, I'm not always a fan of the frozen meals because there can be a lot of preservatives and unhealthy things added but Kashi, Amy's meals and Lean Cuisine are some of my favorites. I always keep a few on hand for times when I'm in a pinch. 
Last Sunday after my trip to the market I wanted something new for lunch and nothing too heavy. I was tired of my regular sandwich since I've been saving them for work lunches and decided to try something a bit lower in carbs. I had a couple pieces of turkey leftover so I thought, why not try a turkey roll-up :)

  • 2 Thin slices turkey breast
  • Handful of herb lettuce mix
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 2 thin slices of Pepper Jack cheese (1oz total)
I rolled them up and ate them with a few thin crisp Rosemary crackers and a sliced kiwi...and on the side a spicy virgin bloody mary :) 

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Basil Quinoa

(This is from a couple Saturdays ago! I've been so backed up on posting my recipes...)
Wow, I loved this dinner! It tasted so... comforting ? but it really was simple and healthy! Perfect for my Saturday night dinner & a movie! I saw a commercial last week for a restaurant offering meatballs filled with cheese (maybe Olive Garden?) and thought, hmm...that sounds fantastic! How can I make it without feeling gluttonous? So I added just enough cheese to give me that "mmm" factor, used ground turkey breast to cut down on fat and added some whole grains into the mix for my fiber! The result was pretty darn good if I do say so myself :)

Also, I've NEVER made quinoa...shocker?? I've been reading so much about how it is this super grain and have even gone so far to recommend it to patients but have not even eaten it myself so I thought it was about time and I am so glad I did! It really reminded me of couscous and I may even enjoy it a little more since it's a bit heartier. It is loaded with fiber, protein and iron and is also gluten free for those of you who can't tolerate wheat/gluten! I added a bit of lemon and basil to add some brightness to go with my meatballs and loved the combo :)


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey, white breast meat 
  • 1tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2tsp kosher salt
  • 1tsp dried onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Mini fresh mozzarella balls, about 6-8 sliced in half (maybe called bocconcini? a little bigger than cherry tomatoes)
Mix all ingredients together until well combined, except for the mozzarella. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a cookie sheet well with nonstick cooking spray. I also sprayed my hands a bit to help roll the meat into balls without it sticking too bad. Roll the turkey mixture into golf ball size bits and then flatten out like in the picture below. Place a mozzarella half into turkey round and enclose mozzarella with turkey mix and roll in hands to form a meatball. This should make 12-14 meatballs. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • ~1 cup water
  • 2T fresh chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine juice of 1/2 lemon with enough water to equal 1 cup total liquid. Add to a 1qt pot with 1/2 cup quinoa and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool approximately 5 minutes. Uncover and add juice of the other half of lemon, salt, pepper and chopped basil and fluff/mix until combined. Serve! The quinoa makes about 2 servings. 

Total dinner of 1/2 cup quinoa, 3 meatballs and some roasted zucchini is about 325 calories total and 30gm protein.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weekend Detox!

After a crazy weekend of nonstop fun and eating last weekend, this weekend I've been trying to "detox" and makeover my kitchen, starting with a total scrub-down of everything (fridge inside & out too!) and a trip to Whole Foods & the farmers' market to load up on healthy goods. It's difficult to get back on track after an indulging vacation but I feel like a good clean-out of the refrigerator, pantry and a shopping trip to stock up on good-for-you items is definitely a nice place to start.

I get a lot of questions from friends and clients about these popular "Cleansing" diets consisting mainly of juices or liquid concoctions that are supposed to detox the body, flush out fat, rev up your metabolism and give you boundless energy but really I'm not into it. I don't think that they are good for you and really, I think they are totally unnecessary. And really, if you eat healthy fresh foods, fiber, a variety of fruits and veggies, lean meats and other protein sources and limit your intake of bad-for-you fats and processed foods you really don't need any additional sort of detox. The reason you have organs such as your kidneys and liver is so that the body can naturally cleanse itself and get rid of waste that you don't need. If you put good fuel in you don't need any special gimmick to "detoxify" anything. Drinking a lot of water is also key to ridding your body of toxins and keep everything running smoothly.

Let's take a peek at the Master Cleanse, this lemonade-type diet popular to many celebrities (such as Beyonce) ...the diet first instructs you to take an over-the-counter laxative pill in the morning to help get your digestive system moving or you can do their salt-water flush (ick) by mixing sea salt with water and just drinking it. I don't encourage anyone who has a functional GI tract to take a laxative unless they are instructed to by a doctor or are constipated to the point that a high fiber diet and fluids won't help. Second, if you have problems with water retention or high blood pressure or any other medical condition that recommends that you limit your salt intake I would not recommend drinking pure salt water. This seems a little opposite of what I consider a "healthy diet" or healthy way to cleanse the putting in laxatives and salt?! Give me a break...

Second, the diet instructs you to drink a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper to rev up your metabolism and rid your body of toxins naturally. Up to 6-12 glasses per day whenever you are hungry. This diet provides up to a max of 1000 calories per day, all coming from the sugar that is in the maple syrup. It does not contain any protein or fat and is extremely limited in all the vitamins and minerals you why would you consume this for days?

The friends that I know of that have tried this diet and other liquid cleanse diets say that yes, they do lose weight but they feel terrible while they are doing it. They are tired, dizzy, irritable, got headaches, felt nauseated and of course experienced the unpleasant diarrhea that can (and is supposed to?) occur. But the weight loss that you may experience may be due to water weight loss alone as well as the breakdown of muscle mass (consuming no protein and limited energy due to lack of nutrition = muscle loss).

This does not sound like my idea of a detox or healthy way to lose weight and "cleanse" the system..

So what I'm doing to "detox" whole grain high fiber foods, load up on my fresh fruits and vegetables, cook with lean protein, take my multivitamin with extra calcium and vitamin D, get enough omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flaxseed, fish oil supplements...), drink a ton of water, sleep at least 7hrs a night and limit my intake of fast foods, processed foods, and anything considered unnatural :) If you eat healthy, you shouldn't feel a need to try these crazy cleanses.

Has anyone tried a liquid detox or cleanse diet before? What did you do? How did you feel? Did it work? Would you do it again? I'd like your feedback :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Love Chicago!

What a great weekend in Chicago with MB!! It was full of food (of course), good times with friends, shopping and some good ol' QT with the boy! Did I mention we ate? Haha...we started our weekend off at Stephanie Izard's (Top Chef Season 4!) new place Girl & the Goat and it was simply amazing. Everything from the staff to the atmosphere to the beverages and small plates was just great! We were greeted by a polite host, got a couple of drinks (an Old Fashioned for me topped off with a orange peel and black cherry, a Basil Hayden on the rocks for MB) from a charismatic bartender who graciously explained the array of beers on tab that I've never seen before and was very attentive and was served a variety of small plates to share by our sweet waitress who mistakenly was informed that it was my birthday :). We started the meal off with corn bread with whipped goat cheese and whipped pork backfat (sounds kind of gross I know but was very smokey and delicious) with bourbon onions on fresh biscuits. Next came a small ceramic dish of warm marinated olives along with my glass of malbec. For our "main" meal we shared beef short ribs with a scallion vinaigrette and roasted cauliflower with peppers (of course I need to get my veggie in!). We were so stuffed we even passed on the complimentary "birthday" dessert they offered! But we had a fantastic evening of indulging and I would recommend the place to anyone! Be sure to make a reservation in advance or you may be waiting a was very popular! 

Another adorable place we tried was the Italian restaurant RoseAngelis down in the Lincoln Park cute and so good! I was a bit nervous that we would have a long wait going there on a Sunday evening of a holiday weekend but they told us 30 minutes and we were sitting within 15. After grabbing a bottle of Chianti from their wine bar we got sat in the small and crowded dining room (but surprisingly we didn't really mind the noise) and were greeted by our overly-bubbly waitress who rattled off their list of specials. We shared a huge caesar salad and for my main dish I ordered the duck tortelloni with cognac sauce, spinach, sundried tomatoes and mozzarella while MB dined on rigatoni with kalamata olives, capers, Italian sausage in an aromatic marinara sauce....both were just top it off we took home their trio of chocolate mousse (white, dark and milk chocolate with raspberry sauce) and I was in pure heaven!! With the huge portions we had plenty of leftovers to take home for additional meals and midnight snacks!

So after these restaurants, a night of sushi with good friends, a Chicago dog, a Starbucks quick breakfast and a bar food day for the MSU game (Go Green!)...

Monday night we decided to stay in and try something homemade and healthier :) MB wanted something with peanut sauce and I decided to go to one of my favorite websites for some healthy inspiration- EatingWell. We (er, I) decided on the Chicken Satay with spicy peanut dipping sauce and tweaked it only slightly by increasing the amount of peanut sauce and heating it over low heat just to help combine flavors and warm it through so that we could use it not only for the chicken but the rice noodles we made. For a veggie I simply sauteed fresh snap peas with a bit of olive oil and garlic. Voila! Simple, healthy and tasty way to end the weekend! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Nutty Nana Smoothie

This was probably one of my favorites that I made over the past week! I just love that combo of peanut butter and banana with a little honey thrown in...a lot of times I will just slice a banana and dip in honey roasted peanut butter for breakfast or a great afternoon snack. This shake is full of potassium, fiber, protein, and calcium!

  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1T peanut butter (I used crunchy)
  • 1tsp Honey (I hear that using local honey can help prevent seasonal allergies...who knew?!)
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1T flaxseed
As you can see from what I've been base has been some type of milk to give me calcium and vitamin D (almond, cow milk, soy milk, etc can all be used), protein powder and flax to add some staying power (fiber and protein really help to fill you up and keep you satisfied), and a fruit and/or veggie to pump up the flavor and give you vitamins that you need to keep your body in top shape. Play around with your ingredients to see what delicious combos you can come up with! Add yogurt, different spices (cinnamon, coco powder?), play around with your fruits (and veggies!!), and let me know what you come up with! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cherry Almond Goodness!!!

This was great!!!! I just really wanted a smoothie that was fairly simple and a bit on the sweeter side and this really made my taste buds smile :) I've already mentioned how much I LOVE cherries and I really wanted to incorporate them into a smoothie. So after buying my frozen cherries last weekend I got to thinking of what combo I could come up with that may be a bit different....and silly ol' me thought: "One of my favorite scents is my Cherry-Almond body lotion"...hmm...that may be a delicious smoothie!! I combined the cherries with some almond milk, protein powder, flax and voila! A simple, satisfying and nutritional drink!


  • 1 cup frozen cherries (you can also use fresh if you have them!) 
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • Ice cubes (optional)
Blend frozen cherries and almond milk until smooth. Add in protein powder, vanilla and flax and blend until smooth. Add in the ice cubes if you'd like and blend to desired consistency. This is approximately 250 calories and 22gm protein. Try this for the antioxidants, fiber, protein, and calcium! 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Raspberry Spinach Chiller

Hmm...who would have thought that adding spinach to a smoothie would turn out ok?? This smoothie was alright, not great but definitely not a bad start to my smoothie-making week!  I think my banana should have been a bit more ripe to add some extra sweetness (it was still a little toward the green side). This drink is a great source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, iron (spinach!), fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, potassium, and many other nutrients! It really did keep me full through lunch and I feel like I did have a little extra energy...enough to skip out on my morning coffee!
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey or soy protein powder
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 drizzle of honey
  • a few ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency. Based on my rough estimate of the nutrition info this is approximately 300 calories and about 25gm protein. I'll put it through a nutrition data processor but just wanted to give you a rough idea :) 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Smoothie week!!!

I recently got a new subscription to the magazine Vibrant Life and really enjoy it! They have a ton of great health information and nutrition packed food recipes. The first issue I received had a bunch of great tips for going vegetarian (see my section on my Vegetarian Week!). The second issue was all about smoothies and it really inspired me to come up with my own! It will be my goal this week to come up with a new smoothie for my morning breakfast or a on-the-go meal for my busy afternoons (when I get home from the hospital I have approximately 30 minutes to prepare myself for the restaurant and that doesn't leave me much time for a quality meal!). So with my blender washed and prepped on my kitchen table...I'm set to take on Smoothie Week. :) Look to my Grocery List for this week's prep materials! More info to come on why smoothies can be so good for you (hint: loaded with vitamins and minerals, high in protein, provides you with your fruits and veggies that you need to stay healthy, great taste, fun for kids and adults, etc.)...but here is a sneak peak into what I'm thinking:

  • Raspberry Spinach chiller (YES, I'm taking a risk and adding some greens!)
  • Peaches 'n Cream Dream
  • Cherry Almond Goodness
  • Chocolate-y Peanut Butter Banana
  • Vanilla Blueberry Powerhouse
I'll keep you posted ;) 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gooooood Morning

(this is sleepy me in the morning....eeks!) 

Sigh*...sometimes working 2 jobs really does take a toll on the body. I worked last night at the restaurant along with working a full 8.5hr day at the hospital (16hr day total...) and when I woke up this morning I felt like a train wreck! My feet ache, my muscles are just TIRED and I feel like the only place I can move from my bed to is the that is exactly what I did! Spoke to the mom for a good while and kicked back to some channel flipping (I always go between Bravo, HGTV, Food Network (duh!), and Lifetime). I got sucked into a Winsor Pilates informercial and committed Mari Winsor's new pilates workout to memory for a future Christmas present haha...oh, how I enjoy pilates. After watched the Neelys on FoodNetwork make their pigs-in-a-blanket (yum!) I worked up quite an appetite and moved on to MY breakfast...hopefully a bit healthier than the piggies but also good haha.

I stuck with my multi-grain toast with pumpkin seeds that I got at Trader Joes (LOVE this place!), toasted with some crunchy peanut butter and some antioxidant packed fresh cherries! Cherries are soooo good for you! I know there has been discussion about cherries reducing inflammation in the body, reducing cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of cancer, easing the pain of those who have arthritis or gout, helping with sleep, etc...I'm definitely NOT endorsing those effects but not saying that they are not true. It is true that they contain antioxidants, vitamins (good source of vitamin C), fiber (3gm/cup), and are fairly low in calories (a cup of cherries has <100 calories)...but they are so good! You can eat them plain, slice them up and put them in yogurt or top your ice cream/frozen yogurt with them (I love them in my nonfat greek yogurt!), put them in all kinds of desserts (who doesn't love a good cherry pie??), make jams, etc. This is one fruit that I've found that nearly ALL kids love as well! To make them easier to eat I use my cherry pitter...and that also makes them more safe for the kids to reduce their risk of choking on the pit. It only takes a minute or two to pit a cup of cherries and then, voila! a healthy snack or compliment to a meal. LOVE them! 

I also have my Dunkin' Donuts coffee...gotta have my morning cup o' joe with a splash of half 'n half :) I can't do the artificial creams anymore...all those preservatives, sugar, and other ingredients that I can't pronounce...I'll stick to my regular cream and just use a small amount. A tablespoon is really all I need! 

Heading off to a relaxing day by the pool now...gotta love a great day off in August! Good day all! :) 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simple Stir-Fry

So over the past week I've been creating a few dishes but haven't had time to post! I'll try to catch up now :) Working 2 jobs and trying to make time for working out and having a personal life really takes a toll! Sometimes all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch a movie or TV! But I have been really motivated to create some yummy food this week after my trip to the local Whole Foods (I know it's more expensive but I can walk to it which is a big bonus for me!).

One thing I really enjoy making is a simple vegetable stir fry. I know, sounds plain right? But I think it's easy to make, allows you to get in all the veggies you enjoy and can be fairly low in calories. Plus with the right seasonings and low-cal sauces they can be simply versatile and delicious! Adding a bit of chicken breast, shrimp or lean beef or pork can add some great protein and voila, you have a fast healthy meal!

The other night I had a bunch of peppers, fresh green beans (my favorite!) and some fingerling potatoes. Now, this is the first time I have ever put potatoes in a stir fry but I didn't have a starch (usually I'll pair stir fry with a whole grain rice such as Uncle Ben's 90 second rice in a bag!) and thought it might be a good substitute. After all, I do enjoy home fries or breakfast potatoes! I usually make my veggies with a soy, hoisin, teriyaki or other Asian theme...but today I wanted something a bit different and wanted to go with Italian...


  • 1 cup fingerling potatoes sliced
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh green beans, cleaned
  • 1 belle pepper of your choice (I used a bit of red and orange)
  • 1T chopped garlic
  • 1tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2T olive oil
  • Dash of red pepper flakes for heat
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add diced potatoes and cook until lightly browned (about 3-5 minutes). Once browned add in peppers and beans and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add in garlic and red pepper and mix well. Season with salt (I used Kosher salt) and pepper. Cook until veggies are crisp tender...maybe 3-5 minutes. I served this with a caesar salad and hard boiled egg for protein, but you can add grilled chicken or another meat/seafood to round it out! It was delicious and gave me that garlic-Italian-y taste that I wanted without having a filling meal of  pasta (which I love too btw!). The peppers were sweet, potatoes crisp and beans just so yummy! 

***Make this your own! There are so many veggies you can use and so many seasonings! I've used broccoli, baby corn, water chestnuts, onion, snap peas, carrots, etc. To add flavor you can use soy sauce, teriyaki, hoisin, ginger, wasabi, garlic, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, and so much more! Just be sure to watch all of the pre-bottled stir-fry sauces. They are delicious but if you go overboard they can really pack on the calories and sodium! Limit yourself to using just a couple of tablespoons and let the taste of the veggies really come through. 

*From start to finish of this meal, from the chopping of the veggies to creating the salad and cooking the veggies it only took me about 20 minutes to make. So this dish was fast and easy, a great way to get your vitamins and fiber, and did I mention tasty?? ;) Share with me your stir-fry recipes! Show me your creativity!

Green Beans on Foodista

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garlic & White Wine Shrimp with Gnocchi Fra Diavolo

That is really all I have to say about this meal! It was so great and so easy to make! Seriously, it may need a few tweaks here and there but overall I think if you make this for family and/or friends you'll be very much appreciated :) So the servings I made were for about 2 people, but as in my other dishes you can definitely just double or triple the recipe as needed. I love shrimp, they are low in calories, a great source of those omega-3 fatty acids and are so versatile! You can throw them in a salad, eat them with a whole grain pasta, or just have them plain with cocktail sauce or simply grilled! I love a good white wine garlic sauce (we have a wonderful one at the restaurant...) but it is usually full of butter and high in calories. I wanted a brighter version of the sauce with less calories but not short on flavor. I combined a bit of dry white wine with zesty lemon juice, herbs and garlic and the results= fabulous.

  • About 20 regular shrimp (maybe 10-12 jumbo shrimp could be subbed), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup good white wine (if you wouldn't drink it straight, don't use it for cooking! the flavor just concentrates so you want to use a good wine)
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 1tsp tub margarine
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1tsp Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Place cleaned shrimp in a bowl and mix with lemon juice and pepper. Place in fridge to marinate while you prepare the rest of the meal. Heat a saute pan over med-high heat, add olive oil and margarine. Once hot (approximately 1-2 minutes), add garlic and Italian seasoning and stir. Add white wine and bring to a simmer. Let cook approximately 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp and lemon juice and season with salt. Cook until shrimp are cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). 

Gnocchi Fra Diavolo
*Note- if you don't like spicy, don't try this! Or you could sub a simple marinara or meat sauce and it would be delicious as well!

  • 1 cup chunky marinara sauce (I combined a jar of prepared marinara with canned crushed tomatoes)
  • Small handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 package gnocchi (serves 2-3 people)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Sprinkle of mozzarella cheese
Combine in a small saucepan marinara sauce, basil and red pepper flakes and heat through over medium heat. Cook gnocchi for approximately 2 minutes in boiling water, drain. Toss gnocchi with sauce and parmesan cheese and transfer to small greased baking dish or large ramekin and top with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350degrees.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Busy Life

Wow. Posting has been so hard these past few weeks and my home-cooking has really flown out the window! I need to get myself back on track with making meals at home and avoiding take-out. I've been working non-stop at both jobs, have had visitors to attend to and prepare for, have been attempting to plan some vacations, baby-sat for a co-worker and in between trying to have a little relaxation time and fun time with the friends so I don't go crazy! This week is my week to get myself together...after I work at the restaurant today, go do some birthday shopping for family, and clean the apartment for my parents' arrival tomorrow....yep, getting myself together... ;) More recipes and healthy tips to come...I promise!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Farmer's Market Finds

There are few things I love more than enjoying a relaxing Sunday, starting with the Farmer's Market and coming home with all my seasonal finds to make a bunch of yummy meals for the day and week. I love spending my Sundays watching movies and cooking all day for friends and family, with maybe a good workout thrown in the mix.

So today I'm working on my crab gazpacho with all of the veggies I bought today (grape tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, green onions, garlic, peppers, etc.) and fish packets with sauteed garlic spinach.

Lunch was fairly simple... egg salad prepared with light mayo, farm fresh & spicy pickles from the pickle stand, whole grain crackers and horseradish cheese from a local dairy. To add some more crunch to the meal I toasted up some Kale that I found at the greens stand.  OMG if you haven't had "kale chips" you really need to try them! Such a great low cal way to get that salty crunch you are looking for in potato chips.

Start by washing and drying your kale well. Either tear leaves apart to your desired size or snip with kitchen scissors. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread leaves onto pan. Spray cooking spray lightly over top of kale and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or other seasonings of your choice...they are great with garlic salt and cayenne pepper too!). Place pan into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 6-8 minutes or so, tossing once, until crisp. Enjoy for barely ANY calories! :) Also, dark leafy green kale really packs a nutrition punch and is high in Vitamins A, C, & K and also provides a good source of fiber!

Well, back to cooking and the Jane Austin Book Club on Lifetime ;) Because yes, Lifetime is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. More easy recipes to come this week!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fish Piccata

I've been on a seafood kick this week! First it was the crab/avocado pasta, then yesterday E and I (well, E actually!) cooked tuna fillets with mango salsa and piccata! I know...usually you hear about chicken piccata, but I thought hmmm...maybe that would be good with fish! I bought some mahi mahi at Wegman's last weekend and really wanted a great way to use it. Since I was cooking for just me, I made a single serving...but feel free to increase the recipe as needed!


  • 6oz Mahi Mahi filet (or any similar fish)
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1t tub margarine
  • White wine, q.b. (quanto basta...or however much it takes!)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Whole wheat flour, q.b.
  • 1T capers
Heat olive oil and margarine in a small skillet over medium high heat. Meanwhile, lightly coat fish filet in whole wheat flour and shake off excess. Once oil is hot, add fish (it should sizzle!) and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Flip filet to other side and cook another 2-3 minutes (it should be golden brown). Turn heat down to medium-low and remove filet to plate and set aside. 

Deglaze pan with splash of white wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add lemon juice and capers and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add fish back to the pan and baste with juice/wine/caper mix. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, then flip fish and re-cover cooking for another 2 minutes until cooked through. 

Remove from heat and let rest for 2-3 minutes. 

I served this with spinach-lemon couscous (I used a box mix that I had on hand!) and crispy brussels sprouts (yes, I like them a bit dark...nearly burnt! This pic would be prettier if I hadn't let them get too crisp. But I just think they taste yummy when the leaves get crunchy!). 

This meal is a great source of those good fats we talked about with the olive oil and omega-3's from the fish! Serving it up with a nice vegetable and healthy starch rounds out the meal nicely! 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta with Avocado and Crab!

This dinner was, in a word...YUM!! I love living in Maryland and having such fantastic access to crab meat...combined with the fresh vinaigrette and creamy avocado this was just too much :)

After E (the roomie) and I got done with our fun afternoon of shopping (we bought some super cute new decor for our living room and to be posted soon once we're through with it all!) we stopped at grocery store heaven, a.k.a. Wegmans to stock up on the weekly groceries. Seeing as I'll be working 3 nights this week I wanted to make something that could last and that would be tasty left-over for a few meals. Now, I really am not always a huge fan of left-overs but I'm trying to love them more. There are certain things, like pasta, that are just SO great the next day...or 2...or 3 ;)

This dish was originally made for me by one of my friends last winter and I've been wanting to make it ever since but never really got around to it. The recipe is from Food&Wine so I really can't take the credit :) But really...if you like crab and HAVE to check it out!
(Copyright Melanie Acevedo)
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (I used approximately half a lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red or white vinegar
  • 2 scallions chopped, dark green parts saved for garnish
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil (I used good olive oil)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon or about 1/2 tsp

  • 1 Avocado, ripened and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks 
  • 1/2 pound lump crab meat (make sure to pick out the shells!)
  • 3/4 pound linguini (I used WHOLE WHEAT angel hair...fettucini would work too. Come on...try it with the whole grain pasta, it's fantastic!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
Combine the first 7 ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree together. Once the vinaigrette is well blended, pour into a small bowl and fold in avocado and lemon zest to keep avocado from browning. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions (approximately 8-12 minutes depending on type and brand).

I wanted to eat this cold since the Baltimore summer has just been way too hot for me, so I cooled the pasta down by rinsing in cold water. Drain well.

Fold together cooled pasta (or keep it hot if you'd like!), vinaigrette/avocado, 1/2 tsp salt, and crab meat. Sprinkle with reserved scallions. Serve immediately or let chill for 30 minutes-1hr if you'd like it cold. 

*I loved the whole wheat pasta with this! It really made it more filling and adding a bit more flavor/texture. There was surprisingly no garlic in this and being the Italian that I am I might be tempted to add a few cloves to the dressing next time I do this along with some cracked black pepper. Using good quality olive oil really complimented the flavor of the rich avocado and crab. Now, if you have people that don't do seafood...I think this pasta would be excellent with grilled chicken! I might have to make that variation for MB next time ;) We served this chilled with a side of melon fruit salad for a healthy, quick and easy summer meal. Enjoy! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vegetarian Week Wrap-Up

Well my vegetarian week is coming to an end...I started last Sunday so today is my last day. Ya know what though? I really didn't miss meat at all! I loved the dishes I created (especially my feta egg scramble, veggie burgers, and veggie quesadillas!) and I really had no desire to eat chicken, pork or beef at all.

I did let myself slip slightly on Thursday and shared some mussels with friends in Little Italy but really I don't consider that meat :) Along with the mussels we shared some caprese salad (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil) and caesar salad so overall a good night of veggies, healthy protein and of course a nice glass of white wine!

One thing I did want to expand on is healthy fats. I know I've mentioned this in past posts but sometimes when people decide to go vegetarian they think they can eat all other foods that aren't meat and be "healthy". I personally don't consider deep fried foods (like chips, french fries, doughnuts, etc.), tons of high fat cheese, pasta loaded with high fat sauces, processed foods, etc. to be a part of a healthy vegetarian diet. If you are going to do this you need to do it right and include the most important part...fruits and VEGGIES! Make sure to get your healthy proteins (LOW fat cheeses, skim milk, fat free yogurt, peanut butter, tofu/soy beans, light soy milk, beans, etc.) and whole grains. And don't forget about healthy fat (yes, there is such a thing).

Healthy fats include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocado...these all contain high amounts of mono or polyunsaturated fats, are low in saturated fat, contain no cholesterol and can actually help to LOWER your bad cholesterol and help raise your GOOD cholesterol. Animal fat, butter, trans fats, etc are all examples of fat that is going to clog the arteries, raise your cholesterol and contribute to any future cardiac issues we all want to avoid. You don't want to go overboard on fats but you definitely don't want to skip out on the good ones!

Bottom line, going vegetarian is possible...even if you just want to try out a few vegetarian meals! I really do feel's made me re-think my entire diet and really caused my entire lifestyle to become a bit...healthier this week! I went to the gym 3 times (taking 2 new classes!), drank a ton of water and really watched my sweet intake. But I still was able to eat great tasting healthy meals!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Feta Egg Scramble!

Today I was fortunate to have the day off (even though that means I have to work over the weekend!) and got to make myself a nice, healthy breakfast. I'm a little tired of the same old cereal and fruit that I've been doing and wanted something a little I also wanted something to give me protein (and carbs!) to help fuel me up for my trip to the gym this afternoon.

Looking in the fridge for things to make an omelet with, I forgot that I bought the feta! And having tomatoes and avocado left from my quesadilla night I got to work on a quick healthy meal!


  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 very thin slice of feta cheese (maybe 1/2oz)
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1tsp lime juice
  • Cilantro, salt and pepper, to taste
Chop tomatoes and avocado into small chunks. Mix with lemon or lime juice and season with salt and pepper as desired. Set aside. 

Beat the egg and egg white well together until a bit frothy. Heat a small pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Add eggs to pan, stirring frequently. Once eggs are about halfway done, crumble in the feta. The great thing about feta is that it is naturally lower in fat and it has such a strong, wonderful flavor that you really don't need much of it to flavor your food! Continue to stir eggs and cheese over medium heat until cooked through and cheese is melted.

Top scramble with tomatoes and avocado and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with some multigrain toast and/or a piece of fruit to round out your meal!

*This would also be great with some red onion and a little spice (think cayenne pepper, hot sauce and/or jalepeno). 

Estimated Nutrition Info: 280 calories, 21gm fat, 17gm protein

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vegetarian Day 2 Successful!

Today was so easy! I had such yummy, healthy meals...what a good day :)

Breakfast was packed up and taken to work - fat free plain Greek yogurt (about 3/4 cup) with about 1/2-3/4 cup Special K Granola cereal, along with that I had a banana and a large cup of cucumber white tea.

Lunch was peanut butter and honey on a high fiber English muffin, tomato/mozzarella salad and a few sunchips. My afternoon snack was a cup of deep red cherries (my fav!).

Dinner was so so so good! I'll be uploading a pic soon but I had to post it first!

Mexican food seems like one of the easiest ethnicities to turn vegetarian...tonight was quesadilla night. Using a ton of fresh veggies, whole wheat tortillas and low fat cheese I think I hit a home run! It was so simple and quick!


  • Small whole wheat tortillas (6"), about 4
  • Fresh veggies of choice (I used red pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, yellow onion), about 2 cups
  • Cherry tomatoes, about 1/2 cup chopped
  • Avocado, about 1/2 cup chopped
  • 1T chopped cilantro
  • 1T lime juice
  • 1/2 jalepeno, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Low fat mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup divided
Saute veggies in 1T olive oil or cooking spray over medium heat until slightly tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add in hot sauce if you'd like to add a little zip (I used about 1t sriracha) and toss. Set aside. Spray saute pan with cooking spray, heat over medium heat. Toast tortillas in pan about 1 minute each side or until golden brown. Once toasted, place 1 tortilla in pan on low heat, top with half veggie mixture, sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and another tortilla. Toast until cheese is melted. 

In a bowl combined chopped cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, jalepenos, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over top of quesadilla (I used about 1/2 mixture with my quesadilla). 

Serve with another veggie on the side if desired, low fat sour cream (or fat free Greek yogurt!), beans, etc. Enjoy! 

*Vegetarian tip- even though dairy is going to give you good protein and calcium you need to watch out for the fat content. Use low fat or fat free milk, yogurt and frozen yogurt. Try light sour cream and low fat cheese (white cheeses such as mozzarella are naturally lower in fat than yellow, such as cheddar).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vegetable Black Bean Burgers

This week I've decided to go vegetarian. Ok ok...first of all, anyone who knows me decently well should know that I am a meat eater! My last meal on this earth will definitely be a nice big filet mignon :) But being a dietitian and dealing with so many questions regarding vegetarian diets I decided- why not give it a try? I love vegetables and a lot of the time I end up eating meatless meals anyway, but I really want to experiment with some true vegetarian entrees. And I have never given up meat completely for a week. Let's see how it goes :)

Tonight I created my own veggie black bean burgers that I think turned out pretty well for my first time! There are so many options that you can do with these and I'm excited to try them out with different vegetables (think sundried tomato, roasted peppers, zucchini/squash, pumpkin, spinach, etc.) and seasonings. Yes, you can buy these in the store frozen but making them was so easy and really they tasted great! They are a perfect alternate to regular burgers on the grill, are low in fat, provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, and still give you the protein your body needs.


  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  •  1/2 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 artichoke hearts (I used canned), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (or about 1tsp pre-chopped)
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup quick oats, processed in food processor 
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (whole wheat preferred) 
  • 1tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2tsp seasoning salt 
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Thomas Better Start, High Fiber English muffins
Heat 1T olive oil in sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, add peppers, onion, artichokes and cook until onion is slightly translucent and peppers are slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. While veggies are cooking, mash black beans well with a fork or veggie masher and set aside. Turn off heat and set aside to cool a bit. 

Once cooled enough to handle, add vegetable mixture to food processor or blender and process until veggies are thoroughly minced. Add vegetables, mashed black beans, bread crumbs, oats, egg and seasonings to a medium-large mixing bowl and mix until well combined (I found that my hands worked best to mix). Refrigerate about 15 minutes or so to set ingredients. Once set, form into 4 equal sized patties.

Preheat grill pan or saute pan over medium high heat, spray with cooking spray. Cook patties about 4-6 minutes/side or until done. Serve on a toasted English muffin with veggies of your choice, cheese if you desire and some whole grain mustard or hot sauce! 

Estimated nutritional information (without cheese): 300 calories/burger; 3 grams of fat; 13 grams protein

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lazy Saturday

This morning I woke in a bit of a funk...or maybe I'm just tired. This week has sure been a busy one! Last weekend I was fortunate to spend a fantastic long weekend in beautiful Michigan with my wonderful boyfriend (MB) and his family :)
After coming home on Tuesday evening, I have spend the rest of my week working @ the hospital and going to work in the evenings at a local Italian restaurant to make a little extra cash and keep myself busy of course! I really do enjoy both my jobs but once the week is over I'm really tuckered out!

Vacation was great, as I said, but full of vacation food! I tried eating lots of fish when we went out to dinner (Lake MI white fish!! yummm) and getting all the fruit and veggies I could when we ate at home but I also indulged in the delightful cookies made by MB's mom, white bread (gasp!!), bacon, ice cream, s'mores (come CAN'T have a bonfire without roasting some 'mallows!), brats, coffee cake, muffins and candy. Of course, when you get back from a vaca there usually aren't too many groceries in the house. I like to use up whatever I have before I leave and don't usually buy anything leading up to getting home I'm left with nothing but a few frozen meals, dry goods and spoiled milk! Needless to say, I've been eating take-out much more than I should and have given myself a free pass on the healthy eating. So I'm feeling a few pounds heavier and ready to get back on track!

*Quick Tip to help with this "no-grocery" rut...have a few healthy meals stocked in the freezer! When you have left-overs (such as lasagna or a veggie casserole) that are easy to freeze portion them out into plastic containers for those times when you just can't or don't want to get to the store! I also stock up on Kashi and Lean Cuisine meals when they are on sale for fast dinners and lunches! Frozen fruit and vegetables are also time-savers and are easy on the budget. I keep a few bags on hand at all times for quick, healthy meals! Plus they don't spoil very quickly and are the same nutritional value as fresh produce!

So breakfast today was quick and easy...Multi-Grain Cheerios with skim milk, coffee and a cup of canned fruit packed in 100% juice (really...I'm going to grocery store tomorrow!).

Hello World!

Hey Everyone,
So I had began my blogging last summer/fall and kind of fell off the bandwagon with all that I had going on (moving to a new city, starting a new job, starting a new relationship, meeting new friends, etc, etc)! Also, when I started the initial blog I realized that most of my posts were criticizing myself and attacking my body image and really that is not what I like to promote as a dietitian. So I am starting over with a clean slate! I have so many blog ideas including sections on general healthy eating, the importance of different meal components (fats, carbs, proteins, vitamins/minerals, water, etc), why breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, tips for picky eaters, time-saving meal ideas that are healthy and delicious, ways to stay motivated with healthy eating and exercise, as well as the importance of having your splurges/indulgences! I hope that you will all follow me on my journey through the world of GOOD nutrition (and when I say GOOD, I not only mean GOOD for you...but GOOD in terms of delicious, fun food ideas that make you feel GOOD and that you enjoy!).