Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Drunk Beef Stew

Who doesn't love to come home to the smell of dinner already prepared?  You don't need a personal chef to do that, instead opt for a Crockpot!  I am in the midst of my graduate finals for the semester, and the last thing I have time to do is whip up a fancy dinner for one.  I have two sizes of CrockPots--1 small and 1 large.  This allows me to tailor my size based on my recipe and my personal needs.  For this recipe I went with my large recipe, because I love the way the flavors meld into delicious leftovers! 

Beef Stew (Simplified)
  • 6 lbs beef round roast (1 lb per person)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 pkg beef stew packet (McCormick)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 12 new potatoes
  • 1 cup red wine (doesn't have to be an expensive bottle, but something you would drink!)
  • water
Cube meat and toss with flour.  Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp of oil and brown meat on all sides (create a crust on the meat to keep the moisture locked in).  Remove beef and place in crockpot.  To the pan add the wine and beef stew packet.  Bring to a simmer and scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom. Pour over top of the meat.  Layer onions, potatoes and carrots then barely cover with water.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-10 hours.  Serve with crusty bread or corn bread for a complete meal!  If you want a pop of color before it hits the table add it 1/4cup of chopped fresh parsley to the stew.  If you crave a kick add in 1 Tbsp of horseradish!  Enjoy!  Don't forget to pour yourself a glass of the red wine to sip with your meal--you deserve it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Easiest (3 Ingredient) Holiday Cake!

During the holidays simplicity is a must!  It's so easy to get caught out shopping and fail to get to the grocery store to buy the necessary ingredients for your upcoming potlluck!  Don't you hate it when that happens?  I do!  So, I tend to keep this 3 ingredients on hand to whip up a healthy delight and create a crowd pleaser!  Hope you find success with it, too!

Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 package Spice Cake Mix (Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines)
1 egg
1 (14.5oz) can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie!)

Directions (Are you ready?):
Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Preheat your oven according to box directions. Mix all three ingredients and pour into pan.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, invert onto a plate and remove bundt pan once you hear a "thud." Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with a flavored icing (orange or vanilla are both fabulous).  Enjoy! 

Now wasn't that easy? Love it!  Keep these ingredients on hand for your next dessert emergency! This cake is moist, high in fiber, low in fat, and a delightful holiday addition to your next holiday party!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Savory Butternut Squash Soup--Perfect for the Holidays!

Creamy soups don't always require cream to give them that velvety texture.  My favorite fall squash is butternut.  Butternut squashes are packed with beta-carotene, fiber, and has only 80 Calories per cup!  This soup makes for a great addition to any potluck or as a starter for your next dinner party!  I always enjoy it for lunch the next day! 
Main Course

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup


2 tsp Olive Oil

1 Onion, chopped

1 stalk Celery, chopped

2 bags Frozen Butternut Squash

1 box Chicken or Vegetable Broth

1/4—1/2tsp Dried Sage

1—2Tbsp Butter, unsalted

Sea Salt to taste


In a stock pot, sauté onion and celery in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes. Season with sage and add chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil and then drop to a simmer for 20-30 minutes. Blend with a blending stick or in a blender. Stir in butter to the soup and season with salt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"German" Style Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake is so moist and delicious it almost seems decadent...almost!  I love the secret ways to kick up the nutrition in desserts.  You can increase fiber, vitamins and minerals, and decrease saturated fats and sugar all with a little help from fruits and vegetables! If you are craving something dark and chocolately don't let the secret ingredient in this recipe stop you!  Curious? 
Yes, that is right--SAUERKRAUT!  Don't snub your nose just yet.  Give this probiotic and fiber packed cake a whirl and you will have your guests raving--without knowing the secret ingredient!  I made two cakes with 1 can.  First, I dusted with powdered sugar and the second I drizzled with a chocolate sauce and sprinkled with pecans.  You can also dress this up with orange zest!  Trust me and give this a try!
"German" Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups Flour, All-Purpose

1 1/3 cup Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

2/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 tsp Instant Coffee Granules (OPTIONAL)

1/2 cup Butter, melted

1 1/2 cup Hot Water

1 tsp Vanilla

1 cup Sauerkraut, blended until smooth

Cooking Spray and Cocoa for dusting pan


Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa powder instead of flour.

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and 2/3 cup of cocoa, and coffee granules. Add melted butter, hot water and vanilla extract; mix well. Add sauerkraut and blend thoroughly.

Pour batter into prepared bundt pan; bake in center of oven until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan for about 20 minutes and then turn out onto a baking rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder before slicing into 14 pieces. Yields 1 slice per serving.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Make Your Holiday Potlucks a Little Skinnier!

A great way to lighten up your caloric intake over the holidays is to bring a light dish to your next potluck party.  I generally opt to bring a vegetable of some sort, because I know that is the one thing that is often missing from the table.  Yes, I am partial to vegetables for numerous reasons: health benefits, often lower in calories, fiber, and yes, tasty! Over the next 4 days you'll find out about 4 easy and healthy recipes to consider for your next party or even enjoy at home!  All four are packed with vegetables: one appetizer, one main dish, and 2 desserts!  Enjoy!

Let's get started with an appetizer. Every time I see a vegetable tray I always cringe at the sight of Ranch Dressing--yes, it has flavor, but is it the only thing people like to dip their vegetables in? Let's change that! Bring this dip next time, and don't tell anyone that it is fat free!  They'll never know!
Chipotle Stuffed Celery Bites


16 oz container Fat Free Cream Cheese

2 tsp - 1 Tbsp Chipotle Peppers, chopped (more if you like it spicy!)

1/4 cup Roasted Bell Peppers, pat dry and chop

1/2 cup Green Onions, thinly slice

1/4 cup Cilantro, chop

Celery for dipping or stuffing


Mix cream cheese, peppers, green onions, and cilantro until smooth. Stuff celery or serve as a dip!
Don't stop with just celery--I chose it because of how inexpensive celery is.  You can try this with with endive leaves, bell peppers, carrots, asparagus, or even roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes!  Spice up the party next time with this dip!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Traditional Leftovers--Turkey Vegetable Soup

It all begins with the turkey.  What are leftovers from Thanksgiving about if they do not have turkey in them? You remove the meat from the carcass, and then the carcass gets immersed in water.  So begins the makings of Mammy's Turkey Vegetable Soup.

My great-grandmother Mammy (Estella Trowbridge) was known amongst family for her holiday soup.  Every holiday my mom would begin to prepare the soup and always reference that we were going to have Mammy's soup.  There are numerous times throughout the year when I think of Mammy and my grandma, whom have passed on, and Thanksgiving is definitely one of them.  I actually think of many of my family members during this time of year because of the food traditions that have been imparted and passed along to me. So, today I share with you my Mammy's Turkey Vegetable Soup.  Not only is this delicious, but it also gets a check mark for health!

Mammy's Turkey Vegetable Soup
Servings--A giant Crock Pot
1 turkey carcass
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
Turkey meat, just put in how much you'd like (about 3 cups)
1 frozen bag each: corn, lima beans, & green beans
1/2 green cabbage, thinly sliced

Clean your carcass of meat and skin.  Place carcass in a Crock Pot, cover with water and cook over night or for 2-4 hours on high (6+ hours on low). If you are using a soup pot, bring the pot to a boil and allow to simmer for 2 hours. Add carrots, onions, celery, and turkey meat and cook for 2 hours.  For the last hour of cooking add in corn, lima beans, green beans, and cabbage.  Season with salt and serve.  Possible additions: fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, cubed potatoes, or fresh lemon zest.

This soup is hearty and filling, and better the second day! In addition, you can freeze or can this soup! If you choose to add in potatoes or sweet potatoes you cannot freeze or can.  I hope you get that warm and fuzzy feeling that I get when I eat this soup!  Happy Leftovers to Y'all!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Recipes!

Yes, Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite times of the year.  I love whipping up a meal for family and friends.  One thing that saddens me is the amount of stress some people choose to have during this time of year. Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks--not stress.  If your holiday season is more stressful than enjoyable you need to take some time to reflect about what is important and look for ways to minimize the stress.  Your stress makes it less enjoyable for people to be around you, as well.
One way to enjoy the season more is to keep the recipes simple!  Here are two recipes that I prepared from (I now have a widget on my Mac so I can google a recipe from Epicurious anytime I want!!--Love Technology!):
Cranberry Cider Relish
On a side note, the health benefits of cider vinegar have been on my mind.  So, this morning I prepared a smoothie with this concoction to start my day off right, as well! Really tangy and tasty!

Pancetta-Sage Turkey w/Gravy (although, I used parsley instead of sage, because that is what I had--improvise!!)
Italian Sausage & Bread Stuffing

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to Y'all!!

Cast away your thoughts that I will ridicule the enormous amounts of food on this day!  Yes, I realize there are those who think nutritionists (aka dietitians) feel that people should sustain themselves on tofu and vegetables, but the TRUTH is--- that is simply not the case!  All foods can fit and a single day of gluttony does not pack on the extra 25lbs of fat so many people carry around.

Today, I spend without my immediate family and instead give thanks to my extended military family for taking me in this holiday season.  I am so blessed to have such a large family amongst my NSW friends. I thankful that my husband is "safe" (albeit perhaps in my head only), my family is healthy, I have a roof over my head, and food on my plate!  Speaking of food, here is my menu for the day...
Smoked Turkey with Pancetta & Sage Gravy
Steamed Green Beans 
Sausage & Parmesan Stuffing
Sweet Potato Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Relish
Apple Dumplings
 Pumpkin Pie
I am in charge of the desserts, the turkey, and the relish--all from scratch!  Cooking over the holidays and feeding those I love most has a euphoric feeling for me.  I look forward for the leftovers to follow! Fabulous recipes & pictures to follow...stay tuned!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Eat Well, Be Well, & Enjoy Today!
~The Edible Nutritionist

Sunday, November 22, 2009

No Skimping on the Shrimp: A 5 minute meal!

5 Ingredient, 5 minute Shrimp

  • 1/4 bag of frozen, peeled shrimp (cooked or uncooked)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bag Uncle Ben's Ready Wild Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups lettuce
  • Bernsteins Chardonnay Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Seasonings: Olive oil, Garlic, Season Salt, Pepper

Defrost your shrimp in cold, running water. Prep your plate with torn lettuce. In a skillet heat garlic and olive oil for 2 minutes (don't allow garlic to brown). Toss in bell peppers and shrimp.  Microwave your rice for 90 seconds.  Plate rice, season shrimp with season salt & cracked pepper, and serve over rice.  Top lettuce with a splash of dressing and you are ready to enjoy a simple shrimp dinner! 

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Lighter Side of Breakfast Tacos

As soon as the tread of my tires cross the Texas line I am on the hunt for breakfast tacos--yes, tacos.  In South Texas breakfast tacos are tradition, a mainstay, a piece of our culture.  They are fluffy eggs, bacon or chorizo wrapped in a fluffy homemade flour tortilla (the small kind--not a burrito), and dolloped with salsa or pico de gallo.  I am salivating just thinking about them! I know, a little dramatic, but when you are out of Texas these are one of the things you miss the most.  Chorizo sausage, bacon, eggs--yes, heart attack waiting to happen.  In order to fulfill my love for these breakfast treats I opt for a lighter version, and I serve it up with a fresh carrot juice smoothie. Hope you give it a try!
Breakfast Tacos--the Lighter Side of Texas
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
2 cups frozen potatoes with onions and peppers
1/2 cup chopped ham or pancetta
Cooking Spray
4 corn tortillas
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (2% if you can find it)
Salsa of your choice
In a non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray heat potatoes over medium high heat for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, grate your cheese, cut up your ham, and crack your eggs into a bowl. Add your ham to your potatoes after 10 minutes.  When your potatoes taste tender turn down to low and cover (stirring occasionally).  Heat up a skillet to heat up your corn tortillas--the fresher they are the easier the more pliable they are. Cook eggs in another skillet.  To assemble: place corn tortillas on a plate, top with eggs, pile on potatoes, a touch of cheese, and kiss it with salsa.  Enjoy!
Carrot Juice Smoothie
3 cups carrot juice
2 apples, sliced
1 piece candied ginger
10 grapes
Place all ingredients into blender and spin away!
Great for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner!!

Power Pack Your Oats

The benefits of oats have been well known for a long time.  They are packed with fiber which can help lower both your cholesterol and blood sugars.  For me, oats don't seem to stick with me as long as I'd like, so I "power pack" them to give them a little more nutrition.  Skip the instant and go for the old fashion type--they microwave in 3 minutes!
Wendy's Power Packed Oats
1/2 cup old fashion oats
1 cup water
1 apple, grated
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Place oats and water in microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for 1-2 minutes more.  Toss in your apple, nuts, cinnamon and stir.  Serve with milk and enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Curl Up with a Warm Bowl of Corn Chowder

When you walk in the door and have the smells of dinner dance on your tongue you know you can sit back and relax.  A slow-cooker (aka CrockPot) gives you the ability to kick off your shoes, scoop up a big bowl of something warm, and relax after a long work day.  Tonight is corn chowder, and this one takes the cake as something simple!  Plan a day next week to prepare this delicious slow-cooker meal!
Fiesta Corn Chowder
Serves 4
1 bag frozen corn (if you can find the Southwest Corn use it)
1/2 bag Oreida frozen potatoes with peppers and onions
1 can Campbell's Fiesta Cheddar Soup (you can use the plain cheese soup, too)
1 can chicken broth, low sodium
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (or frozen cooked chicken strips, rotisserie, etc.)
Pour corn, potatoes, cheddar soup, and broth into slow cooker.  Turn on (low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours).  Add the chicken in during the last hour to 30 minutes to reheat.  Garnish with cilantro and serve.  Toss in a salad for a complete meal! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homegrown Goodness

Have you ever considered taking some seeds, a little dirt, water, and lots of love to grow your own lettuce?  Lettuce is a great winter crop throughout the South and the West.  It also has to be one of the simplest things to grow, too!  Once you plant your seeds, and the leaves begin to grow you can simply cut off the ones you want and leave the rest to grow.  I cut them at the base and leave the root in the ground, and wait for next week when I have a new batch!!  They definitely grow fast and produce a lot.  Growing lettuce yourself not only saves you money, it also alleviates part of the concerns with foodborne illness (see previous post). Here's my batch from tonight...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top 10 Riskiest Foods--You might be surprised!

The Center for the Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) came out with a list of the top 10 foods that can possibly lead to foodborne illness.  The list:
  1. Lettuce/Leafy Greens
  2. Eggs
  3. Tuna
  4. Oysters
  5. Potatoes
  6. Cheese
  7. Icecream
  8. Tomatoes
  9. Sprouts
  10. Berries
Channel 6 Local News in San Diego interviewed me about my thoughts on the list above, check out my video:

Take away messages from Edible Nutrition:
  • Wash your hands
  • Wash your food
  • Don't cross contaminate
  • Keep foods at the right temperatures
  • If you doubt the food is fresh, dump it
  • If you are pregnant, sick, a child, or elderly your immune system may be compromised and some of the above foods need to avoided all together (sprouts, raw seafood, cheese are just a couple)
Don't fear your food instead arm yourself with the knowledge on how to keep your food safe!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blogger Awards!

According to the rules of the award, I must provide GGB readers the answers to the below 35 questions. I also must THANK my award giver (one more time now–THANKS Corinne!) AND grant 6 of my FAVORITE BLOGGERS this award. Then, give them the heads-up that they have been nominated by yours truly. And, out of pure blogger goodness, my nominees must follow suit! Oh yea … I must answer all questions in ONE WORD … Here I go …
1. Where is your cell phone? Pocket

2. Your hair? Straight

3. Your mother? Retired

4. Your father? Professor

5. Your favorite food? Pizza

6. Your dream last night? Venture

7. Your favorite drink? Espresso

8. Your dream/goal? Author

9. What room are you in? Livingroom

10. Your hobby? Crafting

11. Your fear? Widow

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Home

13. Where were you last night? House

14. Something that you aren’t? Angry

15. Muffins? Zucchini

16. Wish list item? Venture

17. Where did you grow up? Texas

18. Last thing you did? Blog

19. What are you wearing? Cycling

20. Your TV? Unused

21. Your pets? Spoiled

22. Friends? Incredible

23. Your life? Exciting

24. Your mood? Sassy

25. Missing someone? Yes

26. Vehicle? CRV

27. Something you’re not wearing? Frown

28. Your favorite store? REI

29. Your favorite color? Orange

30. When was the last time you laughed? Today

31. Last time you cried? Weeks

32. Your best friend? Solid

33. One place that I go to over and over? Texas

34. One person who emails me regularly? Katie

35. Favorite place to eat? Texas

My favorite foodie and Dallas-based dietitian Robin Plotkin
My #1 dietitian fun buddy and fiber guru Katie Clark
The nutrition & etiquette queen, Shelly Marie at CollegeLifestyles
Sports Nutrition expert and friend Mitzi Dulan at NutritionExpert
A fabulous resource for sound advice on diabetes by dietitian Nicole at ProducePrincess
The Meal Makeover Moms rock the web at MealMakeover

Alright ladies–hop to it! And, enjoy spreading the blogger fun!

I hope all of you take a peak at my favorite bloggers sites and look to them for healthy nutrition tips & fabulous recipes!! Happy Healthifying!

Let the Celebrating Begin!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wickedly Delicious Yogurt & Cottage Cheese Treats

Dinner plans tonight are at 7pm and it's only 5pm and I am starved....what to do...what to snack on? Generally my tip for a healthy snack revolves around eating some type of vegetable. Upon opening my fridge I realized that I just bought some of Rachel's Cucumber Dill Cottage Cheese. Yum! This struck my fancy, because unlike many I prefer cottage cheese on the savory side versus the sweet. Finally, a product that meets my cravings! (Note, sweet flavors exist, too) So, I chopped up one of my favorite Persian cukes and tossed it with the flavored cottage cheese. Delightfuly satisfying! Thank you Rachel's Dairy for creating this delectable treat! And this is no trick!

Brussels Sprouts are Back

I grew up with such a strong sense of disgust for this vegetable it is amazing that I have such an affinity for it now. The trick for me was learning how to prepare it--without mutilating it! I am also amazed that the Brussels Sprout is making a come back. Just this past week during my travels to Denver I ate at Rioja Restaurant--a shi shi tapas restaurant and they had an appetizer dish just like the one I prepared today. Although, I opted for ham over pancetta--so it really doesn't sound that fancy. This week at Trader Joe's I purchased a bag of Brussels Sprouts, rosemary ham, onions, and baby mushrooms--all an inspiration to my quick lunch today. I hope you give this dish a try, too! It can be served as a side, a main dish, or as an appetizer served with crispy bread. Don't pass up the Brussels Sprouts next time!
Brussels and Back in 10 minutes
2 tsp olive oil
1/8 onion, sliced thin
6 baby mushrooms, sliced or quartered
8 Brussels sprouts, remove base (stem) and thinly slice like cabbage
2 oz rosemary ham
black pepper, to taste
In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions and mushrooms and cook over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and ham, sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Top with cracked black pepper and serve. Truly that simple!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Break Out the Chili Beans!

The fall just doesn't seem fall-like without a pot of chili brewing in the Crock Pot. For my first weekend home in the past 6 weekends I have decided to whip up my favorite pot of chili and break in the fall with style. My recipe comes to you without any bells nor whistles, but I always get raves about it. The nice thing about the recipe is that you can embelish a bit where you like, or where your pantry takes you.
So cheers to you and yours (as I kick up my Tony Lamas, drink an ice cold Sierra Nevada, and savor my cornbread and chili). Let me know what you think! I'll just sit back and listen to a little Texas Country Music (REK, RRB, or Bingham) and enjoy the rest of my night!
Wendy's Chili
1 lb. extra lean ground beef or turkey breast
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large can tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can pinto beans (drained)
1 (14.5 oz) can kidney beans (drained)
1-3 Tbsp. chili powder (I grind my own pasilla chili peppers for this)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
Optionals: Green onions, cheddar cheese, sour cream, Fritos, cilantro, or chopped jalapeños
In a skillet brown your meat, onions, and garlic together. Add spices. Place in Crock Pot and pour tomatoes and beans on top. Stir and cook for 6-8 hours. Truly this is always best on day 2, but I love the way it makes my house smell and my stomach grumble! Enjoy! I did!!

PS--New camera!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cheesey Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup

I lied! Just when I thought I could get away I decided that my recipe tonight needed to be shared. Earlier this week I had prepared steamed broccoli & cauliflower, but of course eating for one these days leaves a lot of leftovers so I needed something else to prepare. While walking through the aisles I had a wave of nostalgia roll over me and I picked up a can of Campbell's Cheese Soup--not low sodium, and not low in fat. This is the base for the soup, but certainly not where all the nutrition and flavor comes from! So, if you are feeling in the mood for a lighter rendition of a cheesey broccoli & cauliflower soup consider this a quick and easy alternative that can be done in the ease of your Crock Pot! I loved coming home to the smells of this soup! Enjoy!


1 can Campbell's Cheese or Fiesta Cheese Soup

4 cups Broccoli & Cauliflower chopped (I just used a chopper for this)

1 can Chicken Broth, low sodium

1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated

Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste


Place cheese soup mix, veggies, and broth in a crock pot and stir. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Just before serving stir in cheddar cheese and cracked pepper. Yes, it's that simple! Enjoy!

Where Have I Been?

First off, my apologies for not being as dedicated to my practice of blogging. Alas, the fall has taken over and my committments have expanded leaving me without a moments of rest to freely blog. Currently, I am taking two graduate classes, seeing clients, and I am an active board member for the Nutrition Entrepreneurs DPG ( The past 3 weekends have whisked me away to places like Austin, Texas and a kayak trip down the Colorado river. This weekend I am jet setting again and off to Denver for the American Dietetic Association's ( Food & Nutrition Conferene & Expo (aka FNCE). Once I am able to put the conference behind me I should be able to get back my passionate side of food blogging! Until then Eat Well & Be Well!
~Edible Nutrition

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Zucchini Bread--One of my classics!

If you were to ask my former students they would all remember me for a certain recipe. The first day of every semester I would demonstrate cooking with my favorite recipe: Zucchini Bread! Majority of the students would have perceptions that zucchini is a vegetable and not meant to be in a sweet bread, some would abhor the taste of zucchini, and others were open minded to try anything as long as they could eat. My rules:

1. No talking or making disgusted faces--this influences others' responses
2. Must try everything--even if just a bite
3. Rate the food you try
I do not have a memory of any one student disliking this recipe, and often I would receive calls from parents asking how I got their child to eat a vegetable. Still to this day I receive emails from my former students asking for this recipe, and today was no different so I thought I'd share with my readers my favorite Zucchini Bread recipe. I have adapted the recipe from Williams Sonoma Muffins Cookbook recipe.
Wendy’s Summer Zucchini Bread
1 ½ cp Flour, All Purpose
¾ cp Sugar
2 ts. Baking Powder
¼ ts. Baking Soda
½ ts. Cinnamon
¼ ts. Salt
2 eggs
1/3 cp Olive Oil or Canola Oil
1/3 cp Orange Marmalade
2 sm. zucchinis, grated and strained (Squish in a paper towel to get rid of liquid)
½ cp dried cherries, or orange cranberries (I like a mix of ranier and bing)
½ cp walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven. To 375*F. Grease a bread pan.
Stir together flour through salt. In another bowl, mix liquids (eggs through zucchini). Add liquids to dry ingredients, do not over mix. Fold in nuts and cherries. Pour into pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Recipe can be doubled.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Salad--Before a Decadent Dinner Out!

It's Restaurant Week in San Diego, and I love to try out some of the treats the restaurants' offer on their Prix Fixe meals. With that in mind, I decided that I needed to get a good workout in this morning, and follow it with a healthy lunch. No need to have a heavy calorie day when I know I will be a bit decadent tonight! Again, I bought all of the yummy ingredients at Trader Joe's, but you can find all of them at a regular grocery store.
Sunday Salad Made for One
3 cups arugula
1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
2 baby bellas (stuffer sized), thinly sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
lemon zest
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Plate arugula on a salad plate. In a skillet, heat olive oil and add veggies. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic, lemon zest, and balsamic vinegar. Simmer mixture for 2 more minutes. Pour over greens and serve. Season with salt or a cheese like Parmesan. Enjoy!

PS--Sorry for the poor quality of my photo. I am unfortunately stuck with using my phone until I get a new camera!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Trader Joe's Dinner for ONE--Boo Hoo!

As my journey through another deployment begins my creative brain begins to work on ideas...dinner ideas for one. There are a couple key areas I save money while my spouse is deployed:
  1. Water--just due to showers
  2. Gas--no more trips to work, and I bike more often than not
  3. FOOD--ahhh, eating for one

Okay, so I know many prefer to open a box, a can, or better yet skip both and go out to eat when they eat for one. Trust me, I understand the temptation. Unfortunately, eating out has major draw backs. Choosing a restaurant over eating at home can lead you down an expensive and unhealthy path. Your waistline and pocketbook will both thank you when you stay in tonight!

Trader Joe's was my inspiration tonight. I picked up a package of Chicken Cilantro Wontons and Persian Cucumbers. I smell an Asian-inspired dinner brewing! I quickly sliced the Persian cukes lengthwise and simply salted them and tossed a little sesame oil and rice wine vinegar over top. I noshed on these while preparing my Wonton Soup:


4 cups chicken broth

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 bag Chicken Cilantro Wontons

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (optional)


In a soup pot (aka stock pot) place chicken broth, garlic, bell peppers, green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, and jalapeños. Bring stock to a boil and add wontons in for 3-5 minutes or until floating on surface. Add cilantro if you wish. Serve! Yes, it is that simple! Enjoy!

Oh, and to treat myself well tonight I made a quick spritzer:

2 grapefruits juiced

1 cup Riesling wine

Mix and enjoy! Savor each breath! With or without your life partner you are blessed to be alive and healthy! Remember to make the most of each day. PS--this #10!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mesothelioma & Nutrition

Nutrition for Mesothelioma Patients
It has been stated by the National Cancer Institute that at least 35 percent of all cancer cases are related to poor nutrition. And while mesothelioma is not a cancer that is related to poor nutrition, improving nutritional intake can help strengthen mesothelioma cancer patients’ bodies to fight the progressive disease.
Malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used extensively throughout the 20th century in a number of military and industrial applications. This type of cancer develops in the mesothelial cells that make up the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Symptoms typically take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to become noticeable, so the cancer is often diagnosed in advanced stages when treatment options are limited.
If cancer develops in a healthy person (which can easily be the case with mesothelioma), continuing to eat a healthy diet is crucial to the healing process. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and proteins all play major roles in a healthy human body. Without the right balance of nutrients the body cannot effectively fight cancer. In addition, malnutrition causes the body to be susceptible to infection. Many cancer patients do not pass away from the cancer itself, but rather a medical condition stemming from the body’s weakened condition.
One of the most common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment is nausea. There are a number of dietary changes you can make to help this problem. Dry grain products like crackers and toast can help calm an upset stomach. Bland foods will also help with nausea, as well as acid reflux problems.
Another common characteristic found in cancer patients is low white blood cell count, which increases the chance of contracting an infection. To avoid this side effect, a number of changes can be made in the foods you ingest. It is most important to avoid bacteria, which is common in foods that are damaged or not prepared well. Avoid buffets when eating out, wash your hands before preparing meals, avoid raw meats and fish (like sushi), and throw away any foods that are bruised or damaged.
For many people, avoiding certain foods cannot decrease the chance of developing cancer. Cancer is a complex medical condition, with many factors playing various roles in development and treatment. However, most patients will undoubtedly benefit from a better diet in a number of ways. In addition to eating a balanced diet, use the following tips to help strengthen the body’s ability to function well and fight disease:
-Avoid alcohol in excess amounts.
-Monitor weight carefully, not only being sure to stay trim, but also being sure to avoid becoming too thin.
-Learn about safe food preparation techniques.
-Cut the "bad" fats from your diet, opting instead for "good" fats, such as olive oil.
-Choose fruits and vegetables daily (these food groups should represent the bulk of your diet, approximately 50 percent).
-Avoid processed foods, like prepackaged meals.
-Make healthy choices when eating out, opting for vegetable-based meals when possible.
-Monitor the types of fish you eat, choosing species low in mercury.
-Buy products that are organic or grown with minimum pesticides.
-Avoid eating fast foods.
-Cut tobacco products out of your life.
-Take a multi-vitamin every day.
-Include adequate amounts of fiber in your diet (see fiber post).

Richard Moyle

National Awareness Coordinator Mesothelioma Center

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

USDA Takes on the Local Focus!

As you walk down the produce section of your favorite grocery store take a trip around the world--your food has. Here in San Diego, where produce grows with ease, I am always amazed at our grocery stores inability to carry more local produce. Albertsons, Vons, and Ralphs rarely have more local options than produce from Peru, New Zealand, Mexico, etc. Fortunately, there are an abundance of grocery stores with a local flare: Henrys, Sprouts, Peoples, Trader Joes, and Fresh & Easy. I realize that other parts of the country are not as fortunate. Now, even the USDA is taking on message of eating local. Check out Chicago Tribune's blog regarding the new program:

Small, sustainable farmers are our neighbors! Are you interested in finding local produce or food products near you? Go to and put in your zip code to find out how you can become a champion of local produce. Here are 5 tips to get you started on becoming a "locavore":
  1. Notice where your produce comes from. Take a glance at the country of origin, and when you can choose your state or a state nearby over outside of the US.
  2. Choose a restaurant that supports local ingredients. Restaurants and chefs are noticing the trend and making strong efforts to offer local produce--use the power of Google and find one in your are (search: Local Produce Restaurant San Diego [or your city]).
  3. Shop a farmer's market for your weekly needs. Although some areas have a shorter season than others for farmer's markets often you can still find a couple that stay open all year long--all you can do is try!
  4. Buy only US produce for a week. Buying in just your state may be a challenge, so instead try to find products that are at least local to the US.
  5. Request more local produce at your grocery store. Whether you frequent HEB, Braums, Albertsons, or Vons you can take ownership in your responsibility by asking your favorite store to buy more local produce--it never hurts to ask!
Best of luck on your quest to become a champion of local produce in your area! All of us benefit!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Food Behaviors Matter Most!

Do your genes matter when it comes to fighting obesity? Absolutely, but is it the only thing keeping you from being at a healthy weight? Pause....ponder....recognize! Your food behaviors and habits matter, and some researchers feel they matter most. Check out this fabulous article for more information:

Five tips to curb those nasty habits:
1. Keep a record of what you eat daily (I use
2. Avoid television or other distractions while eating, instead focus on your food and savoring each bite.
3. Eat 4-6 cups of vegetables per day. If you do this, you are less likely to have room for other food choices.
4. Serve yourself on smaller plates, with smaller bowls, and tiny glasses for everything other than water to help cut your portions.
5. Practice mindful eating. For starters, ask yourself:
  • Am I hungry?
  • Is this what is best for me right now?
  • Why am I eating?
  • What can I do other than eating?

For more helpful hints, tips, and ideas locate a local dietitian in your area to help get you on the right track toward curbing your food behaviors and trimming your waistline!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Add Some Zing to a Muffin Mix

There are definitely times where I opt for convenience, and a muffin mix can be something tasty to keep on hand for those times. I noted that Martha White is now making a "Whole Grain" muffin mix. Don't get too excited! They are not that "whole," but they do provide 1 gram of fiber per muffin whereas the old mix has none. I decided to give the apple cinnamon package a try, and I added my own pieces of flair to the mix to increase the fiber, protein, and flavor.
Morning Muffin Mix
Serves 6 muffins
1 Martha White Apple Cinnamon Muffin package
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup oats
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp brown sugar or raw sugar
3 Tbsp oats
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
Preheat oven to 425*F (400*F for convection). Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well. Add 1/2 cup milk and quickly mix, but do not overmix. Pour muffin mix into muffin cups--I use silicon muffin "pans" so I don't have to add cooking spray to keep them nonstick. Next, make the topping. Using a pastry blender, your fingers, or two knives you can cut the butter into the flour/sugar mixture. Top muffins with crumble and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crock Pot Gumbo for Brooke!

Is it easy? Yes, Brooke, it's easy, but be sure not to cook for yourself on your birthday! ;o)
On any given busy day I often opt to pull out the CrockPot (aka Slow Cooker). Today we were over 90*F (hot for us), and the last thing I needed to do was turn on my oven--hence a perfect reason to pull out my crockpot! This gumbo recipe is perfect for any day of the year and better as leftovers! ENJOY!
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
Serves 6-8 (depending on your portion size)
3 chicken breasts, bone & skin
3 chicken thighs, bone & skin
Salt & Pepper
Cooking spray
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red & green bell pepper, each diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thick slices (don't mince for slow cooking)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth (I use Chicken Base 1 Tbsp + 3 cups water)
1 lb. chipotle or jalapeño turkey/chicken sausage (if you cannot find this use any turkey kielbasa-type sausage)
1 lb frozen, sliced okra
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or 3 dashes hot sauce to preferred heat level
Rice or mashed potatoes to serve over
  • Season your chicken with salt & pepper. Spray skillet with cooking spray and bring to a medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook for 7 minutes, flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Place chicken in crock pot, skin side down.

  • Meanwhile, prep your vegetables on a cutting board. Once you pull out your chicken, toss in your vegetables (peppers, onions, celery). Cook for 5 minutes and add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pour veggies over chicken in crock pot.

  • Next, in the same skillet add 1/3 cup of oil and have your flour ready. Once the oil gets warm, add in flour and whisk until blended. Continue to whisk your roux until it gets a golden or light brown color--about 7-10 minutes. Add in chicken broth and cook until thickened. Pour thickened mixture over veggies and chicken in crock pot.

  • Slice sausage in 2" thick rounds and add to mixture.

  • Cook mixture for 3 hours on high or 5-8 hours on low. The last 30 minutes of cooking add in your okra. The okra will thicken your base, too. This is also a perfect time to start rice or potatoes, which ever you prefer is fine. Stir in your cayenne or hot sauce and season as needed with S&P.

  • If you would like to add in seafood wait until the last 5 minutes of cooking to add in shrimp or scallops.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Does a Meal Have to Be Fancy to Be Good?

Simplicity really can go a long way to impress your friends, wow your taste buds, and lower your stress levels! Meals don't have to be so complicated that they take you hours to prepare, come with fancy titles, or exotic ingredients. The key to a good meal are quality ingredients. If you make it fresh you can keep it simple!
For me, summers are the essence of fresh & simple meals! When vegetables are freshly plucked from the garden their tastes sizzle with flavor and make your taste buds become food snobs! (My mother's garden has forever ruined me to store bought tomatoes for the rest of my life.)
Tonight's meal is made with fresh carrots and asparagus, with the delicate touch of fresh dill. Here's a tip--you can use any vegetable in place of this, and choose a variety of fresh herbs to dress up the plain and add a subtle touch of aroma.
A Steak Night
Serves 2
8-10 oz sirloin or tenderloin steak
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1 lemon, zested and juiced
8 asparagus spears, peeled stems
3 carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp dill, cilantro, parsley, sage, oregano, or other favorite herb
S&P to taste
  • Season steaks with salt, pepper, and touch of herbs. Allow to come to room temperature in 30 minutes. While waiting, turn on your grill. Put your back burners on high, and the front burners on medium low. Once the grill gets to 400*F you are ready to go! Grill your steaks for 7-10 minutes per side depending on desired texture and taste. Once you pull your steaks off the grill allow the meat to rest so that the juices return to the muscle instead of all over your plate!
  • Meanwhile, follow rice package directions to prepare. Once prepared, add lemon zest and season with S&P.
  • Note, you don't have to cut off half of your asparagus to enjoy the tender vegetables. Instead, trim off the very tips, and use a vegetable peeler to expose asparagus's tender flesh. See photo above for visual.
  • In a pot, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil and add the vegetables for 3 minutes to blanch. Remove and place into ice water for 1 minute to halt the cooking. Remove and pat dry.
  • In a skillet add olive oil and add the blanched vegetables and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until desired texture is achieved. Finish vegetables with fresh herbs and lemon juice.
  • Last, pick your favorite wine, plate your meal, savor the freshness of flavors, and enjoy the simplicity of the night! Cheers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

That's the Way the Cherry Crumbles

It's cherry season! Which is your favorite? Rainier, Bing, or Lambert? Do you enjoy cherries raw, dried, candied, simmered, or baked? Their flavor can really go a long way! In the summertime I often add them to my zucchini bread for a splash of color and some zing.
One cup of cherries packs in 3 grams of fiber, a mere 80 Kilocalories (aka calories), Vitamin C, and Potassium. Cherries also are high in anthocyanins which is a powerful antioxidant! For more nutrition information about cherries check out the USDA's website:
I decided to make a delicious cherry crumble with my fresh batch!
Cherry-Blueberry Crisp
Serves 6
3 Tbsp Cornstarch
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 lbs Cherries, pitted
1 lb Blueberries
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar, packed
1 ts Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
8 Tbsp Butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Pecans, chopped
Directions: #1--be patient as you pit your cherries! Or, just buy them frozen!

  • Preheat oven to 400*F (375*F for Convection ovens)
  • Spray a baking pan (or pie pan) with cooking spray.
  • Combine cornstarch, lemon juice, and berries in a bowl and toss until mixed. Pour into baking sheet.
  • Mix flours, sugars, cinnamon, and salt together. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives. Sprinkle over berries.
  • Top flour mixture with chopped pecans.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until bubbly and browned.
  • Serve warm over a scoop of vanilla yogurt or light ice cream.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ahh It's Summer--Make a Quick Meal for Two!

Ahhh, the sound of silence. All of my company for the summer is gone, and although I love guests it's also nice to just sit back and let life get back to normal. That being said, the last thing I want to do is be a slave to my kitchen. Why must we spend an hour in the kitchen to pull a meal together? Do we really have to stick to a recipe? Do we really have to turn on our oven? No, No, No! Stop the madness and give yourself a break--keep tonights meal simple!
Always looking for inspiration of something simple to whip up, last night I went to my garden. I must admit, I have very little patience and prefer to pull off my zucchini and squash when they are still small. The tender, baby vegetables are my absolute favorite. I gathered zucchini, crook-neck squash (the yellow one), cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and a jalapeño. A little spice goes a long way! Next, I pulled out a bag of Boil-in-a-Bag Brown Rice. Brown rice has more fiber than white, and I really like the nutty taste it can have. I also loved the ease of a boil-in-a-bag approach for last night's meal. For meat, I was originally going to do chicken breasts, but my meeting ran a little long; thus, I decided to use chicken breast sausage. And in 15 minutes I had a meal on the table! Hope you enjoy this, too!
15-Minute Garden Meal
Serves 2 (and 1 leftover for tomorrow!)
1 boil-in-a-bag brown rice
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tb olive oil
2 baby zucchini squash
2 baby crook-neck squash
1 baby bell peppers
1 jalapeño
6 cherry tomatoes
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fill a soup pot with water, add your rice bag, and bring it to a boil. My bag needed to cook for 10 minutes, but you should read your directions on your box. Leftover rice would work great here, too!
Slice your sausage into half and then into half-moons.
Next, slice your vegetables. Slice your squashes in half and then in half-moons about 1" thick. Slice your bell peppers in long strips. Cut around your jalapeño to remove seeds and slice in long strands. Halve your cherry tomatoes. Now you are ready to go!
Heat up a skillet with olive oil and add 2 smashed garlic cloves--no need to mince. Add in your sausage and bell peppers. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add your squash and jalapeño and cover with a lid. Cook until your rice is ready. At the last minute add in your tomatoes and serve the mixture over your rice. Quick, easy, and HEALTHY! Enjoy!