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!