Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Healthy Back to School Snacks

      As we head back to school, college kids, and little one a like there is one thing on our minds, snacks. School, work, sports and activities consume most of a student's time leaving no room for healthy snacks throughout the day. Chips, soda, candy all seem delicious, however, it is possible to be busy and still manage to eat healthy.

Here are some healthy snacks for any age:

Celery and Peanut Butter

Tip: Look for peanut butter brands that contain less ingredients such as Whole Foods Brand 365 Peanut Butter. The only ingredients in the peanut butter are nuts and salt. Whole Foods also offers organic peanut butter at an affordable price. Most peanut butters on the market contain harmful preservatives and hydrogenated oils which are extremely bad for you. So, stick to the natural stuff and you'll be just fine.

For those that do not like celery such as myself, try it with apples.



Fresh Fruits

My favorite combination of fresh fruits are blueberries, strawberries, bananas, grapes, and pineapple. You'll satisfy that sweet tooth without any added sugars.




Hummus and Pita Chips

Hummus is simply chickpeas mashed up with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt and made into a delicious dip. Most grocery stores sell Hummus combined with just about anything. There's Hummus with spinach and artichokes, roasted red pepper and many more. Chickpeas provide protein and hummus is a way to consume protein. This is also a very filling snack.

When buying pita chips, make sure to read the ingredients and avoid hydrogenated oils, artificial flavorings and harmful chemicals.


Instead of juice, drink water. Water keeps you hydrated throughout the day and is calorie as well as sugar free. There are a plethora of water brands available on the market and bottles even come in small sizes perfect for any lunchbox/backpack.





Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Traditional Easter Dinner that Won't hurt the Waist line

I love Easter Dinners with my family. When  I was a child, my mother would make Chinese rice and ham for dinner each year. When ever I asked her why Chinese rice, she would tell me it was the best combination with ham. Of course, I did not understand but played along. Now that I am older, we don't necessarily make Chinese rice and ham on Easter Sunday. Here's a recipe I discovered on Foodnetwork.com and thought I would try.

Tangerine-Glazed Easter Ham With Baby Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 to 10-pound) smoked ham, bone-in, skin on
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
  • 2 tangerines, sliced thin, seeds removed
  • 2 cups tangerine juice
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 11/2 pounds carrots, peeled

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Put the ham in a large roasting pan, fat-side up. Using a sharp knife, score the ham with cuts across the skin, about 2-inches apart and 1/2-inch deep. Cut diagonally down the slashes to form a diamond pattern; season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Chop about 8 of the sage leaves and put it in a bowl; mix with the oil to make a paste. Rub the sage-oil all over the ham, being sure to get the flavor into all the slits. Bake the ham for 2 hours. Now there is plenty of time to bang-out the tangerine glaze.
For the glaze: Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chunks of butter, tangerines, tangerine juice, brown sugar, water, and spices. Slowly cook the liquid down to a syrupy glaze; this should take about 30 to 40 minutes.
After the ham has being going for a couple of hours, pour the tangerine glaze all over it, with the pieces of fruit and all. Scatter the remaining sage leaves on top and stick the ham back in the oven and continue to cook for 11/2 hours, basting with the juices every 30 minutes.
Scatter the carrots around the ham and coat in the tangerine glaze. Stick the ham once again back in the oven and cook for a final 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender, the ham is dark and crispy, and the whole thing is glistening with a sugary glaze.
Set the ham on a cutting board to rest before carving. Serve the carrots and tangerine glaze on the side.

Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients


  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • Good (extra virgin) olive oil
  • Kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Cream

Tip: You can substitute sour cream with plain, non fat yogurt if desired

Ingredients

  • 8 small Idaho potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds total), scrubbed and dried
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 pieces Canadian bacon, finely diced (about 3 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 3 ounces)

Avocado Creme:

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, greens reserved
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Pierce potatoes several times with a fork and wrap in paper towels. Microwave on high for 13 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from microwave and cool until potatoes are easy to handle. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop all but 1/8 inch of the inside of the potato, leaving skin intact. Reserve scooped potato flesh for another use.

Brush both inside and outside of potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place potatoes, skin-side down, on a baking sheet and bake until skins are crisp and edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook until crisp stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes. Reserve.

To make avocado cream, combine scallion whites, avocado, sour cream lime juice, cilantro, garlic and salt in the small bowl of a food processor and process on high until smooth. About 30 seconds.

Toss the broccoli with cheese and spoon filling evenly among potatoes. Lower oven to 400 degrees F and return potatoes to oven until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the avocado cream on top of broccoli-filled potatoes, then top with scallion greens and 1 teaspoon crisped bacon bits.

Yield: 8 servings (1 serving equals 2 potato halves, 1 tablespoon avocado cream, 1/2 teaspoon scallions and 1 teaspoon bacon bits)

Per Serving:
Calories 180; Total Fat 10 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 2 g, Poly Fat 1 g) ; Protein 8 g; Carb 15 g; Fiber 3 g; Cholesterol 20 mg; Sodium 380 mg


 And there you have a nutritious, yet, tasty Easter meal. Enjoy!

 


Monday, April 18, 2011

Nutrious Easter Meal Ideas

It's Easter morning and the kids (if you have any in the house) open their Easter baskets. They show you everything and automatically ask if they can eat the candy inside. Of course, because it's morning, one says no. I know this because when I was a young child my parents would tell me the same thing. Here are some recipe ideas for you to make with the kids or for your sweetheart on Easter.


Artichoke-Scrambled Eggs Benedict





Ingredients

  • 8 canned artichoke bottoms, (1 1/2 cans), rinsed (see Shopping Tip)
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, divided, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufch√Ętel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss artichoke bottoms with 2 teaspoons oil and 2 teaspoons oregano. Place them top-side down on half of a large baking sheet. Spread pancetta in an even layer on the other half. Roast until the artichokes are just beginning to brown and the pancetta is crispy, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice and water in a small bowl until smooth. Beat eggs and egg whites in a large bowl.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and cook, folding and stirring frequently with a heatproof rubber spatula until almost set, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in cream cheese, the remaining 1 teaspoon oregano and salt.
  5. To serve, divide the artichoke bottoms among 4 plates. Top each artichoke with equal portions scrambled egg, crispy pancetta and creamy lemon sauce. Garnish with oregano sprigs, if desired.
Shopping tip: Artichoke bottoms can be purchased in 14-ounce cans—found near other canned vegetables. If unavailable, substitute two 14-ounce cans rinsed and halved artichoke hearts.

Nutrition

Per serving: 282 calories; 19 g fat ( 6 g sat , 7 g mono ); 333 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 3 g fiber; 737 mg sodium; 171 mg potassium.

Vegan Chocolate Cake 


My personal take: LOVE  this recipe! Tastes just like devil's food cake without all the harmful ingredients. You can choose to either make this cake, or purchase at your local Whole Foods Market.




Almond milk and maple syrup are the keys to this delectable treat. Perfect with Vegan Cocoa Glaze. To make a double layer or 9- x 13-inch cake, simply double the recipe.

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer (such as Ener-G Egg Replacer)
1 cup almond or soy milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup expeller pressed canola oil
2 teaspoons white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray and flour a 9-inch round or square cake pan using olive or canola oil spray. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk together egg replacer, almond or soy milk, maple syrup, oil, vinegar and vanilla until completely combined. In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda, then add to bowl with milk mixture, stirring to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until done when tested with a toothpick.

Nutrition

Per serving (72g-wt.): 170 calories (60 from fat), 7g total fat, 0g saturated fat, less than 1g dietary fiber, 2g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 0mg cholesterol, 230mg sodium

Monday, April 11, 2011

Skinny Girl Margaritas: Low Calorie Drink with Lots of Flavor

      That's right, a margarita that tastes good and is good for you. I recently turned 21 and have tried a few drinks here and there but I am careful about consuming alcohol simply because of the high calorie content, not to mention fat and sugar content.

       The name of this concoction is "Skinny Girl Margarita." It's inventor so to speak is former Real Housewives of New York's very own Bethenny Frankel. I barely watched the Real Housewives of New York when it was on but towards the end, I did and was interested in Bethenny's drink. Though I've never tried it, it seems like it is indeed a good drink.



Here's what it's made of:

     Silver Tequila, lime juice (fresh squeezed), Triple Sec and lightly sweetened with agave nectar. The tequila is Blue Agave clear Tequila. Skinny Girl Margarita contains no high fructose corn syrups, artificial colorings and dyes. It's 100% natural. A 4oz glass of this concoction is just 100 calories as oppose to 500 calories of a traditional margarita.

Some customers say this drink is very bland. A way to spice it up is by adding some lime juice to it, or some lemonade. A few other suggestions are to add some fresh squeezed fruit juice to liven the taste a bit. After reading some of the reviews, I am more likely to add some natural sweetness to this drink.


Always drink responsibly.

Homemade Energy Bars

Energy bars now a days are packed with so many ingredients that one probably wonders if half the stuff in them are even good for oneself. Well, I came across a recipe that will for sure have you racing to the grocery store to get all the ingredients.

Tips: Add whatever you'd like to the mix, don't just stick to the ingredients in the recipe. If you don't like something such as dates, substitute them with raisins or your dried fruit of choice. Instead of margarine, use butter. Margarine is not good for one's health because it contains hydrogenated oils, trans fats and high amounts of saturated fats. I personally like Land O'Lakes Butter, it has two ingredients: cream and salt and nothing else.


Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1-2/3 cups low-fat granola cereal
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto or Great Northern beans, rinsed, well-drained, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Steps:

1. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil. Lightly coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine cereal, dates, coconut, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in beans, raisins, and nuts. Combine honey, margarine or butter, oil, vanilla, and salt in small bowl. Add to cereal mixture; stir until combined. Spread in prepared pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until edges of bars are lightly brown and center is firm to touch. Cool completely. Use foil to lift out of pan; cut into bars. Makes 30.

4. Freeze bars, wrapped in foil, up to 3 months.



Nutritional Information:

Carbohydrate: 24g, Sodium: 90g, Fiber: 2g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Total Fat: 5g, Calories: 137, Protein: 2g.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Homemade Taste without All the Work: Nutritous Soups in Less than 15 Minutes

              Ever feel like eating a good bowl of homemade soup without going through all the work of making it? I know that in many instances that is exactly me. I don't cook much to begin with because I'm on always on the go. I don't like to eat out of a can, in fact I refuse to.
           If one reads the amount of preservatives, artificial things, LOTS of sodium and all the extra garbage added to those foods, one would never ever buy them again. I also do not like to buy soup in cartons for the same reason. Most frozen meals have the same amount of harmful chemicals as well as high amounts of sodium. 
              It wasn't until recently that I decided to try the Tabatchnick brand line of soups. I went grocery shopping for myself for the first time and as I was walking through the frozen foods section at Whole Foods I came across this brand of soups, it was $2.99 for a pack of two soups, 100 calories a pouch and the flavor I liked, Minestrone so I decided to give it a try.


          The result? I ended up loving it. I boiled it as stated on the box and when I tasted it, it did not taste like a frozen soup at all. It tasted like a freshly made soup. I simply poured it in the bowl after boiling it and ate with a piece of whole wheat bread. It was delicious and filling.
        I also tried the Vegetable soup one and liked it but had to add salt because it was too bland for my tasting. It contains no salt at all. The vegetable soup once flavored with a little salt, tasted just like a homemade vegetable soup that grandma would make. I paired it with an Asiago cheese bagel and some butter...mm mm perfect combination. It was also $2.99 at Whole Foods.

Tabatchnik offers a plethora of soups, from organic  soups to gluten free soups. There's a little variety for every taste out there.



Friday, April 1, 2011

Naked Bliss

Yes, I said Naked Bliss, but don't get too alarmed. I am talking about the Naked Juice Smoothie Brands sold at grocery stores everywhere. I was not a fruit smoothie type of person growing up. It wasn't until my sophomore year of  college that I decided to become more health conscious for my own well being.
So, I tried the Naked Juice Brand and absolutely loved it! I tried the strawberry banana smoothie one. It tasted like bananas more so than strawberries but I still loved it. The cost is certainly on the high end approximately costing one around $3.99 but let me tell you that it's worth it. One bottle will fill you up before you know it.

The plus side to this line of smoothie drinks is that it is made of 100% juice. There are no added preservatives, sugars nor are there any harmful artificial flavors or colorings. Naked Juice also comes loaded with veggies mixed with fruits for those wanting a more nutritious smoothie. Try Berry Veggie Machine, Green Machine, and Orange Carrot for a different blend of taste.

My two favorite of the Naked Juice brand are Orange Mango and Strawberry. I could drink them all day long. It's perfect if you're hungry and don't want to consume many calories. Each of the blends contains approximately 300-400 calories each, but you must remember that they are all natural calories.

For more information on Naked Juice Smoothie Blends check out Nakedjuice.com
So, go ahead, try one!