Monday, June 29, 2009

Kid-Friendly Afternoon Snacks

Heading to the pool? Perhaps the beach? Or is it still baseball, softball, & swim team season in your hometown? Either way, kids get hungry! Providing the right snacks is a perfect way to set your child up for success. The obesity epidemic is not going away, and unfortunately the issue seems to be getting worse. Toss out the junk and bring in food that truly will nourish your child!

10 Easy Tips & Afternoon Snack Ideas
1. Portion out your snacks first. Snack size zip-top bags are the perfect size bags for your child. Place 1/4 cup nuts, dried fruit, or chips into Snack Bags and make your own 100Kcal snack packs! It's never wise to send your child to the table or out to the livingroom with a full bag of chips! That's a recipe for disaster instead. Teach portion control--not blind eating!
2. Designate a snack shelf. If you wish to provide your child a sense of choice and at the same time limiting their indulgences create a shelf or drawer that is labeled afternoon snacks. To help with quantity make a list of foods that they can only have 1 item, if they can have 2, and fruits & vegetables can be 3 pieces!
3. Beat the heat with a frozen treat. One of my favorites--peel a banana and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Freeze! Or you can spread peanut butter on the banana and dip in melted chocolate--now freeze!
4. Create a "cook" book for your kids. There are plenty of cookbooks out there, but why not make your own. Team up with your child to select 10 of your own approved recipes for your child to make without you home or your assistance. If you need help in this department let me know. I created one back in college and I still have it on hand. I'd be glad to share!
5. Cut it up. If you want your fruit & vegetables to be eaten then you need to prep them. If you don't feel up to it buy the fruit or vegetable trays at your grocery store instead. Cut up the oranges, slice the apples (you can keep them cut up in lemon water), wash the grapes, and cut up the carrot sticks.
6. Make it fun. Do you have wooden skewers around? If so, cut them in half and they are perfect fruit kebabs for the kids! It's an easy activity and tasty, too!

7. Something warm. A simple warm snack is Triscuits with sliced apple on top and then broil a slice of cheddar over top! There is a reason why apple and cheddar are thought to be soul mates! You can also try grapes with mozzarella!
8. Blend it up. Smoothies are always fun, and you really don't need a recipe to give it a swirl. Try 1 cup liquid to 2 cups fruit and you will be safe. Add in yogurt, granola, nuts, or cookies for some fun! My favorite is 1 banana, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup peach yogurt, and 4 ginger snap cookies!
9. Let it roll. Tortillas are a staple in my house--both flour & corn. Toss one in the microwave for 15 seconds, top with meat, cheese, and roll! Pizza rolls are easy--2 Tbsp. pizza or spaghetti sauce, 1 tortilla, 1 slice of ham, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.
10. Parfait time. Parfaits just look pretty! Thankfully they can also be tasty and nutritious, too. Take 1/2 cup of your favorite yogurt, top with 1 cup fresh berries or fruit, and 2 Tbsp of cereal. My favorite--Lemon yogurt with blueberries and Honeynut Cheerios!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Double Duty Dinners

I just have to post on this, because it really was that simple. Last night, after my 12 hour day away from home, I was famished upon walking in the door. Hmmm, what shall I eat? I had already succumbed to cereal one day this week; thus, I could not bare to do that again. So I whipped up a great entree salad! But the best thing is I used the leftovers from last night's salad for today's lunch! I apologize that there are no pictures, but use your imagination. They both were great!

Double Duty Salad
10 boiled new potatoes, divided
1 boiled egg (I boil a bunch and eat them throughout the week)
1/2 red bell pepper sliced, divided
3 oz grilled chicken breast (I used the bag variety in the freezer section)
1/2 cucumber
1 avocado
8 mushrooms, divided
Citrus Vinaigrette (I found this yesterday at the store--Bernstein's--fabulous)
1 slice of Garlic Texas Toast (you are welcome to be healthier than me and opt for something whole grain, too)
Start your oven for your bread and put in ASAP. Boil your new potatoes until fork soft. On a plate layer lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, 2 mushrooms, 1/4 bell pepper, and sliced boiled egg. Top with 4 sliced new potatoes and drizzle with dressing. Serve with Texas Toast! 15 minutes tops!

Next day...
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion, sliced (I used Texas Sweet)
remaining bell peppers, mushrooms, and potatoes
4 oz of grilled chicken (again the package kind works)
Sage (I had 2 fresh leaves, but you can use 1/4 tsp, too)
Salt, Pepper, & Paprika sprinkled over top
Parmesan cheese
In a skillet, sauté onions & peppers in olive oil. Once caramelized add potatoes. Toss in mushrooms and chicken. Last, add the spices & herbs. Sprinkle the mixture with cheese and serve! YUM!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Perfect way to finish the evening...warm milk

Whoever said that warm milk helps you sleep was least for me. 1 cup of steaming low-fat milk with a touch of spice packs protein and carbohydrates at a perfect balance. My favorite steamer is simple!

Spiced Milk

1 to 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of spice (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, or nutmeg)
Heat milk in the microwave for 1 minute and stir, add spice, and heat for an additional 1 minute or until steaming. The sugar in milk, lactose is sweet enough for me, but for those of you who desire a touch of sweet add a drop of honey or molasses to finish your steamer off. Yum! Good-night y'all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Papayas--Bring on the Mold!

Yes, mold! Papayas become sweet once they have mold growing on the outside. The papaya below is a gift from my neighbor, Al. Al has a jungle for a front yard. It's overflowing with tropical plants, fruits, and weeds. :o) I adore Al! He is a native Hawaiian, artist, and avid surfer. I share with Al my limes and he shares his papayas--quite perfect! Papayas change once lime touches the fruit. Often I am told, "I don't like the way papaya tastes." And my response, "Is it ripe, and have you tried it with lime?" Give it a taste!
Papayas are naturally high in carotenes, phytochemicals, and papain. Papain is an enzyme that can tenderize meat. Note, if you leave meat in fresh papaya juice or puree too long it will turn to mush. Trust me! Papayas have long been used as meat tenderizers throughout South America and tropical islands. One of my favorite marinade is quite simple.
Papaya Chicken
1/2 cup soy sauce, light
3 cloves garlic
1/2 papaya
1 lime, zested and juiced
In a blender or food processor pulse all ingredients until pureed. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture for serving. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes or flank steak for 1-2 hours. Grill meat and allow meat to rest for at least 10 minutes prior to cutting. Serve
with remaining sauce. Fresh cilantro is a great addition on the top!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Make the Weeknights Matter!

It's Wednesday night--hump day--a day to celebrate the nearing of Friday! Make it special! I understand the grind of the 40+ hour work week, and often the last thing someone wants to do is prepare a dinner. So make it simple! Grilled fish takes 10-12 minutes to cook on the grill; thus, it's a great thing to pick up on your way home from work. While your at it, pick up fresh bread, a bag of microwave or frozen rice, and some fresh veggies--your choice. I had two zucchinis staring at me, so I decided to go for the ribbon effect and sauté them quickly. Yum!
My WEDNESDAY night meal (and it mattered!)
Grilled Salmon--drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, lime or lemon zest, and fresh minced rosemary (any herb can work!) Grill on medium high heat for 5 minutes on each side.
Wrap your bread with foil and throw on the grill to reheat.
While the fish is cooking, prep your veggies! I used a vegetable peel and thinly sliced the zucchini. I added some garlic and sea salt.
Last, pop the rice in the microwave and WA-LA! Your dinner is done!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cantaloupe Ice Cream---ahhh, Summer!

The gifts of summer always make me smile. From fresh berries, ripe tomatoes, to the plethora of melons that mark the onset of summer! For me, summer was always about floating the river, skiing at the lake, having far too much fun life guarding at the pools, and eating anything my mom grew in her garden. I miss it! One of my all time seasonal favorites is Blue Bell's Cantaloupe Ice Cream! Ahhhh, so creamy and refreshing. Just this week my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box blessed me with three beautiful cantaloupes. I couldn't resist whipping up some ice cream to enjoy with my fresh berries! I hope you enjoy the sweet treat, too! Of course, mine is on the lighter side, but I will give you options on ways to make this dessert a little richer!
Cantaloupe Ice Cream

1 ripe cantaloupe

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg subsitute

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup reduced-fat milk
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Puree cantaloupe for 3 minutes in a food processor or blender. Add lemon juice and sugar and store in an airtight container for 1 hour.

Beat eggs until they are light and fluffy (1-2 min). Slowly add sugar to the eggs and beat for 1 more minute.
In a saucepan, heat milk until it just begins to boil.
Pour hot milk over beaten eggs, stirring to combine well.
Pour mixture back into the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly (Do not let mixture boil).
Remove from heat when mixture thickens and begins to stick to your spoon.
Chill at least 2-3 hours.
Drain cantaloupe puree and add juice to milk mixture, setting cantaloupe puree aside.

Stir in cream and vanilla.
Pour into ice cream maker.
Mix about 20-25 minutes.
Drain cantaloupe puree again, discarding juice or saving for another use.
Add cantaloupe puree (not juice) to ice cream mixture.
Mix 5 more minutes in your ice cream maker.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blueberry Yogurt Scones--Great Start to the Day!

Scones are a biscuit-like quick breads. Although Starbuck's version is decadent and rich (a whopping 460 calories per blueberry scone), scones generally have less fat and calories than muffins. For a healthier rendition try this recipe.
Wendy's Blueberry Scones
Serves 10
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp. low-fat or fat free milk
6-8 oz. fresh blueberries
Preheat an oven to 450*F (425*F for convection ovens). In a mixing bowl, toss together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Slice up butter into cubes and add to flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers cut butter into flour mixture until the butter is the size of peas. Mix together yogurt and milk, and add to the flour mixture. Do not overmix! This is key to making any quick bread. Add the blueberries carefully. Pour mixture onto cutting board sprinkled with flour. Knead the mixture gently 2-4 times. Pat into a circle about 1 inch thick. Using a knife or dough cutter slice like a pizza into 10 wedges. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden on the edges. Serve with fresh fruit!

5 Tips to Trim the Waist for Summer!

As a dietitian, approximately 60% of my patients walk through my door with a goal to lose weight. Weight loss can help control diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), high blood pressure (hypertension), and many other ailments. I consistently hear the same story--"I tried this diet and it worked, but now I am sick of it and cannot look at that food again." OR I am asked, "Is there a meal plan that I can follow to lose weight?" I understand their frustrations and sometimes desperation. Losing weight is not always easy! The science of nutrition and food have long been a passion of mine. I strive to stay current and up on research. With that said, I will answer some burning questions I am often asked:
  • Do fad diets work? Yes, they can. The question becomes for how long. Many popular, what I call "Cookie Cutter" diets, can work. They are often restrictive, provide little variety, and lack the research supporting long-term results.
  • Do diet pills work? This depends and can be dangerous. Supplement laws are very flimsy and claims can be made without legitimate research as evidence. You are safer seeking out the advice of a dietitian or physician prior to beginning a diet pill program. If you have a specific diet pill in mind please ask me about it first!
  • What's your approach to weight loss? My approach is a non-diet approach. Yes, I look at what you are currently eating and how improvements can be made, but I also evaluate your relationship with food and behaviors toward food. My most successful patients are those who modify their behaviors and create a healthier relationship with food.

Here are 5 of my favorite tips to trim your waist

  1. Keep a journal. In your journal write down what you ate, time, location, with whom, and how you felt while eating (sad, happy, rushed, stressed, guilty, etc.)
  2. Write down realistic goals. Make your goals quantitative. This means put numbers to them. For example, At least 5 days per week I will eat 4 cups of colorful vegetables. If your goals are flimsy and broad you won't have anything concrete to focus on.
  3. Increase your vegetable intake. Generally, Americans eat very little vegetables (1-2 servings per day). A serving is 1 cup raw and 1/2 cup cooked, and your goal should be closer to 5 servings per day. Vegetables add fiber, nutrients, and are low in calories (unless they are adulterated!)
  4. Eliminate liquid calories. Liquids go down easily, and so can hundreds of calories with them. Cut out or cut back on sodas, juices, and even the waters that only have 10-25 calories per serving.
  5. Be aware! Look at labels, read the calories and look at the portion sizes. You might be surprised! Don't assume all products are the same or are the same serving size. You must be your own advocate, and if you have challenges with accountability seek out a dietitian for assistance.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

If it walks like a cookie, tastes like a cookie, it probably is a cookie--no matter how many vitamins and minerals they add to the cookie!

Trail mix should be eaten---on a TRAIL!

Sports drinks should be savored--during a sporting event (no, not for the spectators)!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Roasted or Grilled Potatoes---Fabulous!

Planning to grill tonight? Add grilled potatoes to your dinner menu. Or perhaps the spring storms are keeping you inside. Toss cut up potatoes into your oven for a great dinner addition. From russett to fingerling to yukon gold or new potatoes you have a variety of flavors and textures to work with. Russetts are the classics for baked potatoes, fingerlings are adorable and perfect to slice lengthwise and nibble on, and yukon golds are creamy enough on their own that you need very little butter to make these a mashed hit. Potatoes are so tremendously versatile and combine well with so many of my favorite herbs or spices. Here are some quick ideas to create a pair with your next menu:
1. Chop up rosemary and garlic and toss with your favorite roaster. Bake at 400*F for 20-30 minutes until crisp and golden
2. Par boil for 5 minutes and skewer. Baste with olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest. Throw on the grill and enjoy!
3. Roast with sage and bacon for a more decadent touch.
4. Thinly slice and make your on potato chips--bake at 450*F for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Season with malt vinegar and sea salt
5. Go Mexican! Toss grilled or roasted potatoes with cilantro, cumin, and olive oil.
Tonight, I made sauteéd cod with lemon sauce, blanched asparagus, and roasted potatoes that I finished with lemon zest and parsley. You can really cut back your use of salt when you pair citrus juice or zest with a dish--try it! Stop passing the potatoes by! They are high in Vitamin C and when you eat the peel you keep the fiber. Everything in moderation which makes fingerling and new potatoes a great addition to your next meal! There's the dinner bell!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ditch the Bottled Water and Make Your Own!

I frequently ponder the attraction to flavored bottled "waters." Is it the label, the flavor, the price, or the container that makes so many people want to drink flavored "waters?" It certainly should not be the health factor! Let me give you 5 reasons you should NOT drink bottled flavored "water:"
1. Natural flavors don't mean that it's flavored with fruit or real fruit juices---so think about what those "natural" flavors are referring to.
2. Adding to the landfills--how many plastic water bottles per year do you contribute to your local landfill? Plastic bottles take 450-1000 years to biodegrade!!!
3. Artificial sweeteners keep those calories at Zero--I am not 100% against artificial sweeteners, but I do believe in moderation and with artificial sweeteners being added to everything from yogurts to waters I wonder how easy it is to keep those levels in moderation!
4. They cost $$--why spend $1.19 on bottled water (or more) when you can create your own for pennies?
5. If your goal is to lose weight it's important to reduce your addiction to sweets, and a sweetened beverage still provides your taste buds with the "satisfaction" of something sweet.
Break the habit!
So, you might be wondering what are better alternatives to your flavored beverages. Here are some fabulous ways to impart flavor without the chemicals and plastic:
1. Ginger water (my favorite)--Whether you have an upset stomach or just like a bit of spice try slicing 5-6 rounds of ginger and add to your own water bottles.
2. Cucumber water--clean and refreshing and a great way to sip your way into summer.
3. Citrus water--some of the top flavors of water are citrus flavors. Add your own slices of fresh lemon, lime, or orange to water instead.
4. Watermelon water (2 ways)--blend watermelon and freeze in ice cube trays and to water or thinly slice the rind (yes, the rind) and add to your water.
5. Grape water--slice grapes in half and freeze. They are fabulous to snack on or add to your water.
6. Mint water--add 2 sprigs of mint to water.
7. Berry water--blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries all shine in your favorite pint of water.
Cut calories, save money, decrease waste, and eliminate artificial sweeteners all by creating your own flavored waters! Ahhhh...refreshing!