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!