Monday, December 15, 2008

Some Texas Crunch

One of my most favorite holiday scents are spiced pecans! When they are baking in the oven you have the aromas of cinnamon and sweet, roasted nuts wafting throughout the house! Yum! Nuts, albeit high in calories, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids or "healthy fats." Some researchers' suggest that a 1/4 cup of nuts per day can assist with weight loss goals. The key is limiting your portion to a mere 1/4 cup (about the size of a female's palm, laid flat). Some bags of nuts can contain over 1,500 calories in the entire bag! To get some of the added benefits from nuts eat a variety and choose raw or dry roasted, when possible. Roasting your own is simple! Here is one of my favorite recipes, Texas Toasted Pecans, from my sister, Jody:
In a mixing bowl, whisk one egg white, 1 Tb. water, 1/4 ts. salt, 1 ts. cinnamon, and 1 cup sugar. Add 4 cups pecans to the mixture. Spread nuts out flat onto a jelly-roll pan (cookie sheet with edges). Bake at 300*F for 30-40 minutes, stiring every 10 minutes. Watch that the nuts don't brown up too much! Some ovens heat hotter than others; thus, the range in time to bake.
Once your nuts are toasted, allow them to cool and put into storage containers. I have kept mine for a couple weeks without any problems. They make a great gift, too! I attach a recipe card for the following salad:
Baby greens or spinach, chopped tomato, green onions, dried cranberries, goat cheese, Brianna's Blush Vinaigrette (my favorite!) and my Toasted Texas Pecans, of course! It's simple, festive, and perfect for the HOLIDAYS! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Simple Is Oh So Sweet This Season!

Often we give the gift of food to those we love and cherish most. Humans have a sense to nurture, and what better way to nuture a person's mind, body, and soul than with food? I'm a little bias in my response. This holiday season choose to be simple in your food selections. Make a bold, yet simple, statement with some of these homemade (made with love) gift ideas:
1. Fresh fruit baskets
2. Fruit breads
3. Toasted nuts or trail mixes
4. Granola or granola bars
5. Hot cocoa mix
6. Candied citrus zest
7. Stuffed date "cookies" (simply stuff with a nut of choice and dust with sugar) Reminds me of my grandfather!
8. Favorite dark chocolate bar paired with wine, port, or stout beer
9. Dried citrus zest
10. Citrus & champagne or wine vinaigrettes
This season, save your pennies, show your love, and share the gift of food with your friends & family!
Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe:
Heat oven to 350*F. In a mixing bowl, add together 2 cp. flour, 1 cp. sugar, 1 1/2 ts. baking powder, 1/2 ts. baking soda, 1 cp. dried cranberries, 1 Tb. orange zest, & 1/2 cp. pecans. In another bowl, mix together 1 egg, 2 Tb. Smart Balance Spread, 3/4 cp. orange juice, & 1/2 ts. salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until blended (avoid over mixing quick breads!) Pour into muffin cups or a cooking oil sprayed bread pan. Bake muffins for 12-15 minutes and bread for about 30 -40 minutes or until done in the center. Enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A New Twist on Stir-Fry

When planning to make a stir-fried dish, one might envision mounds of white rice under their vegetable medley. For a twist--try a noodle! No, not the ramen variety, which pack about 16gm of fat per package. Yes, those little bags are two servings per package! Who can eat half of a bag of ramen????
Udon noodles are a popular Japanese staple, that make for a great alternative to white rice. You can even find whole wheat udon noodles to give your fiber numbers a little boost! Another bonus is that they cook up in 5 minutes!
Inspired by my new treasure, I decided to chop up some of my favorite CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegetables: carrots, baby bok choy, green cabbage, garlic, and cilantro and create a stir-fry.
Directions: Boil your noodles according to the package. Then, in a skillet heat up 3 ts. oil over medium-high heat. If you have sesame oil--replace one teaspoon vegetable oil with 1 ts. sesame oil. Quickly toss in your carrots and garlic first and stir...fry. Next add in your favorite cabbage. Once your noodles are ready, rinse and drain. Add to the veggies and season with 1-2ts of lite soy sauce. For a little heat add crushed red pepper flakes or sliced jalapenos. For a little protein I tossed in some grilled chicken breast that I cooked up on Sunday. I hope whole wheat udon noodles tempt your plate next time you crave stir-fry! Enjoy!

Bring Me Dandelions So I can Eat More Greens!

There are so many fabulous vegetable greens that people have yet to try. From kale (used more for decorating) to mustards (seen more in the South) very few people cook these delicious and overly nutritious greens. Sometimes I wonder if it's more about truly not liking the greens, or never experiencing greens prepared correctly. The heartier varieties of greens, like kale, mustards, and dandelions can be braised, added to soups, stews, or simply sauteed. One of my favorites is adding sauteed kale to a sundried tomato and goat cheese pizza! Truly a fabulous combination! I found the recipe on
For some added inspiration, for those of you who are brave enough to try, check out my video on preparing dandelion greens!
To accompany my "weeds," I roasted beets (the stalks are another great green to try later), and my friend prepared a delicious pork loin. Are you hungry yet? It was a fabulous dinner with friends!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No-Fuss Pasta Sauce

There is no need to spend $3-$5 on a jar of pasta sauce. Instead, opt for a can of tomatoes ($1.19), 2 cloves of garlic (pennies), 1/2 of an onion (maybe $0.15), and splash of olive oil (again, maybe $0.30). The key is--no fillers, no hidden "flavors!"
First off, start a pot of water for your whole-wheat pasta of choice. In a heavy skillet saute' sliced onions over medium heat. Allow them to become carmelized (brown, but not burned). While that is cooking, mash up your garlic and chop up 5 tomatoes or open up a can of diced tomatoes. Add the garlic to the pan for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and allow to simmer until your pasta is ready. Drain your pasta and add directly to the sauce and toss. Top with chopped herbs and Parmesan cheese for some added color. Feel the need for protein? Add in a can of white beans, chopped chicken, or lean chicken sausage. Again, a 10 minute meal! Isn't that better than driving to the nearest fast food restaurant?

Late Night Snack...That's Light!

Feeling the urge for something sweet? Yoplait has a new Light Thick & Creamy yogurt! It has a mere 100 calories, and amazingly I did not taste the artificial sweeteners. If you are watching your calories Yoplait's new twist on an old favorite is a delightful snack full of calcium and Vitamin D. Try the Lemon Meringue with a handful of blueberries tossed in. Your taste buds will think of Lemon Pound Cake with Blueberry Coulis instead! If you happen to have a Trader Joe's near you, their Nonfat Greek Style Yogurt is also one of my thick & creamy favorites! Yogurt is a great way to boost your calcium, probiotics (good bugs), and Vitamin D.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mizuna Madness

I can't get enough of this green! Too bad you cannot find it in every market. You often find it hidden in "Mixed Greens," but it's rare to find it on its own. Mizuna is packed with Vitamin A, Folate, and other fabulous phytochemicals (cancer fighting chemicals) such as glucosinolates. For those of us in San Diego, Mizuna grows year round! Inspired to try something new tonight I pulled out my goodie bag from the CSA and prepared sauteed carrots over mizuna with herbed goat cheese! WOW! I pulled an orange from my tree and squeezed out some juice and topped it off with a splash of olive oil! Get inspired by fabulous flavors and the world is yours!

Fuel with Fiber in the Morning!

The holiday season puts everyone in a tizzy. One often forgets to eat breakfast as they rush out the door to catch the opening of their favorite store! Hold up...put your brakes breakfast! Make your digestive system smile with a high fiber start to the day! My new favorite is Fiber One's Caramel Delight with a whopping 9gm of fiber per serving, and it looks and tastes more like Golden Grahms!

Quick ways to fit breakfast in this holiday season:
1. On-the-Go-Gurt: Add 1/2 cup high fiber cereal to your favorite yogurt (Banana Cream Pie Yogurt with Caramel Delight is Yummy!)
2. Golden Smoothie: 1/2 cup carrot juice, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 banana, & 1/4 cup high fiber cereal)
3. PB & Banana Sandwich: Whole wheat English muffin, 2 Tb peanut butter, 1 banana
4. Egg White Scramble: 3 egg whites (beat), 1 Tb. salsa, 1 small corn tortilla (chopped)
Start your morning off with a powerful punch of fiber, and your body will thank you!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Since leaving home at 18, every Thanksgiving has been celebrated in a different way and often in different places. Some years have been celebrated with friends and others have been spent in the great outdoors, rock climbing or hiking, in beautiful places like Joshua Tree National Park. I always love the spontaneity of this holiday! Some of my fondest memories are back packing with my husband, and eating cream of turkey over biscuits in our tent!

Today, I am taking time to pause and give thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed on me. I am fortunate to have friends to take me in this holiday and share with me their family meal, family who love me, health & wellness, and the ability to taste, smell, and see the food before me. While baking today, I gave thanks to a few of my angels, Grandma Ostrander, Aunt Julie, and Mammy for sharing with me their beautiful recipes and patience to teach me before they left Earth. I am taking time to remember the fallen soldiers who have died for the freedom of our great country, and to their widows, my friends, who continue to persevere and find strength in every day. It's a gorgeous, rainy day in Southern California and for that my garden and I are thankful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I hope this day finds you in peace, good health, and in strong spirit. Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!

Blessings, Wendy Jo

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

12 Ounce Nutrition

A day of watching your favorite football team or parade can include tossing back a couple beers, a few glasses of wine, or indulging in a flute of champagne. Beyond the over flowing plates and heaping scoops of ice cream on your favorite pie, calories can also be added through your choice of beverages. Life is about balance, and where you get your calories during this holiday's meal is your choice. A couple tips to keep you moving in the right direction (which is not the scale moving in an upward motion):

1. Choose white meat over dark and skip the crunchy skin
2. Serve fresh vegetables versus casseroles
3. Opt out of ice cream or choose a small dollop to enjoy with your favorite slice of heaven
4. Skip the seconds and head for the hills (meaning get outside and exercise a bit!)
5. Savor a single roll and pass on the 100 calorie pat of butter
6. Relish each bite, and give thanks to the food in front of you (while realizing many in the world are not as fortunate)
7. Pumpkin pie has fewer calories than pecan (but that doesn't mean have an extra big piece of pumpkin!)
8. Eat breakfast and lunch to avoid feeling famished and overeating at dinner
9. Pace yourself--chew each morsel and sip water in between so you allow your body to tell you it's full before you are as stuffed like the turkey you just ate
10. Lastly, think twice before you throw back a couple beers or glasses of wine

Some numbers for you to think about
12-oz Regular beer 149 Calories
12-oz Light beer 110 Calories
12-oz Red Wine 240 Calories
12-oz White Wine 225 Calories
12-oz Margarita 510 Calories

Adding greens to your favorite brew will not make it 12 oz nutrition!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More than just a flower and a stalk

Have you ever seen broccoli in a garden? It looks different than what we see in our vegetable section at the grocery store. Broccoli grows in cooler temperatures, and forms a thick, fibrous stalk, cabbage-like leaves, and my personal favorite--the flower. For the longest time I would chop off the stalk and toss it into my compost. Then, while in one of my culinary classes, I was instructed to peel off the outer part of the stalk, and chop it up. Much to my surprise, the stalk now tasted like the flower. All those years of wasted goodies! I now use it as my base for broccoli or vegetable soups.
Well, there is another fantastic gift from the broccoli plant--the leaves! The are very similiar to cabbage, but perhaps even sweeter. You may not find them in your local grocery store, but if you are lucky to see it at a Farmer's Market--pick it up and give it a taste!

After a long day at the Wild Animal Park I decided to whip up a quick pasta dish. I pulled out broccoli greens, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, my pre-grilled chicken breast, whole wheat penne pasta, and fresh Parmesan cheese. I think I spent 10 minutes on this dish, and it was delicious! Get your pasta water started first, chop up the veggies, saute the garlic, and toss remaining ingredients in to heat. Yum! Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, or kale would also work in this dish. Spend 10 minutes in the kitchen instead of 10 minutes on the road!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Edible Box of Organic Goodies

My senses overwhelm me every time I pick up my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box of goodies. My mind quickly wanders through my internal cookbook and begins calculating delicious treats for the week ahead. This week might have some unusual vegetables for some; thus, I thought I'd give you some ideas on ways to make these delectable greens work for you.

Click the picture for greater detail

Mizuna has almost a citrus flavor; so, I generally roughly chop it and toss it with either lemon or lime juice (whatever I have handy), olive oil, French Feta (different from Greek) or Goat Cheese, and cracked pepper. My taste buds are already craving this!

Dandelion Greens is similar to spinach; thus, you can do a flash saute or add it to a soup or in place of spinach or tradition greens.

Broccoli Greens, yes, the entire plant is edible and delicious. Broccoli greens taste similar to cabbage. They make a great addition to a lasagna, spaghetti sauce, or braised in chicken broth.

Beets are also completely edible. To keep them fresh avoid cutting off the leaves. Beets are fabulous roasted or boiled and then tossed in a salad with fennel and fresh herbs for a fabulous salad. Beet greens are also similar to greens or spinach and pair well with a citrus sauce or orange segments, fresh garlic, and crumbled goat cheese. Try it~you may surprise yourself and your family!

Although the remaining vegetables are familiar I will share what I plan to create with them:
Zucchini Muffins with orange zest and cranberries
Grilled potatoes with lemon zest
Caprese salad (tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella)
Fall salad (apples, peppers, lettuce, orange segments, cheddar cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil)
Carrots are my dog's, Jake & Hilly, favorite treats; so, the bulk of those gorgeous carrots are for them. It's a great dose of fiber and carotenes for them, too!

Feel free to post me a comment or email me if you would enjoy a specific recipe for any of the above treats or if you need more inspiration in your kitchen. For more great ideas check out some of my favorite web-based recipe boxes:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weeknight Chicken Jambalaya

Video: Preparation of Weeknight Chicken Jambalaya with culinary tips

The smell of the jambalaya met me at the door when I walked into my house. I have to admit I was starved after an hour of Boot Camp. I hope you enjoy the simplicity of the meal, and feel as though you can make it, too! Weeknight Jambalaya is definitely pleasing to the stomach, eyes, nose, and extremely filling after a long day of work and play! Additional ideas would be to add shrimp the last 4 minutes of cooking...another idea to chew on! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Living La Vida Loca-vore!

Locavore: a person who eats locally! The "local" standards can be within a 100 mile radius or include your whole state, depending on where you live. The best way to start is to find out if your area has a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, a farmer's market, or a local dairy. Check out to find out what comes up in your zip code.
So, why support local agriculture?
1. Puts money back into your local economy
2. Food travels less of a distance; thus, saves money (gas), fresher, and it's what is in season!
3. Variety is the spice of life, and the CSA boxes provide your palate a taste of something different
4. Organic
5. It's green, and that is in!

Bi-monthly I drive 1.5 miles to pick up my $25 CSA box at the drop site. Last night happened to be my night for my goodie box! Here is a little taste of what my box contained this week, and some edible preparations:
Green Beans, potatoes,
tomatoes, & baby lettuce greens: Tuna Nicoise Salad
Carrots: Sauteed with olive oil and fresh dill
Apples: Homemade applesauce-better than Motts!
Swiss Chard: Stir-fried with fresh chorizo
Oranges & Fennel: Tossed w/Red Onions & Champagne Vinaigrette
Cherry Tomatoes: Tossed with grapes, parsley, feta, & EVOO

Edible ideas to chew on...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chicago and Back: Food & Nutrition Expo (FNCE) Lessons Learned

San Diego—cool crisp mornings and warm, arid days with a subtle ocean breeze
Chicago—Windy (yes, it is called the Windy City for a reason), wet, and snow flurries
After living on the East Coast I had a general idea of outerwear to pack: gloves, hat, warm coat, but what I failed to think about was sensible shoes. My favorite red and black heals were not the ideal footwear favorites for the weekend. Although my toes were not chilled to the bone I did feel every step as the girls and I headed down Michigan Avenue in search of some dinner treats.

Emma Fogt & Wendy Jo

Knowing that my aim was to represent the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group with professional flare I again selected my favorite black and red heals to stand around and greet fellow ADA (American Dietetic Association) members at our booth. BIG MISTAKE! I loved the fun compliments for about 2 hours, and then I had to trek a ½ mile around the McCormick Convention center, due to poor directions, to attend a meeting. After that my “dogs were barking,” as some of my favorite NEDPG Executive Board Girls (EBG) echoed my feelings. The backpacker in me would not allow me to over pack my luggage; thus, I limited my shoe selections to 3 pairs—the hot and sassy red pumps, the stylish and classic blacks, and my tread-worthy running shoes! Many of my fellow EBG’s laughed as they reflected back on to their years when they once wore the stylish versus sensible shoes. Lesson learned!

Food and Chicago mesh fabulously well together! Unfortunately, I planned poorly and failed to realize the culinary glories of Chicago until my last night. I did however, save the best for last! As a couple of us ventured out after our last session to feast before famine we decided to hit up a Chophouse for steaks. Much to our dismay our cabbie pulled up to an empty and dark building—obviously closed on Sundays! As we sat and discussed, with our meters still running, our cabbie finally offered up a couple of suggestions that were just around the corner from our barren location. With a couple of questionable looks we decided to take nibble on his lead. Our next stop—Avec—a gastro-delight with a wine list to match. This place had style, although narrow, the wooded walls and exposed-beamed ceilings added warmth and clean lines to the establishment. The back wall was lit up with…look once—lights, look twice…wine bottles laid down on the side with their bottoms facing the crowd. It projected a jade-effect for the eyes. As we waited for a much sought out table Paul or wine guy brought us a wine with a few words of suggestions: not dry, not sweet, and with a favorable (meaning low end) price. This was my first clue that Avec had panache! Paul surpassed all of our expectations with a smile to boot! After about 30 minutes, all the while enjoying conversation, aromas, and the occasional cool air coming from the front door, we were seated. Our table was reminiscent of a picnic table with heavy, wooden chairs. Our waitress, Sontra, bestowed upon us seasonal menus that had fresh, warm ingredients reflective of the fall season. Plates at Avec are served family-style with a hint suggestive of tapas. With her suggestions we started our night with a cheese platter (crusty bread, grapes and parsley salad, and 3 goat cheeses), creamy, stuffed foccacia bread, and a roasted beet & fennel salad. Are you salivating yet? Next, she brought us an excellent bottle of red to match our tastes again. We sipped and laughed as we enjoyed our rustic dishes of sausage-stuffed dates, roast beef over butternut squash puree, and pheasant sausage with lentils. Beyond the flavor explosion that occurred on our tongues our hearts were warmed by the hospitality bestowed on us from the time we entered the front door until they hailed a cab for us, and wished me well by first name. Who are these people in the middle of downtown Chicago? Native Chicagoans! I had to ask.

Let’s reflect a bit for next year…
Pack the right shoes for walking the town at night
Find sensible shoes that have style so my poor feet don’t hate me for weeks after
Plan the culinary tour in advance