Currently Eating.

I slept like a baby last night.

All this fresh air and gardening has me plain tuckered out.  Thank goodness for HUMP day!

Thank goodness, also, for larger than life salads, which fills me up and helps me get all my veggies in.

I always layer the usual lettuce, tomato, cucumber.  But lately, I’ve also been adding…

  • avocado
  • broccoli
  • vidalia onion
  • fresh salsa
  • feta cheese
  • big ol’ scoop of hummus!!!

Eaten like so…

I’m a fan of these trader joe’s whole wheat pita breads.  They do get a bit crumbly by day 4 or so, but they honestly don’t usually last that long in this house anyways!

QUESTION: What are you eating a lot of these days?

I Could Eat It By The Bowlful.

Dear Granola, I could (I can, I do) eat you by the bowlful.

Granola is just one of those foods that makes me swoon with utter delight.  Yep.  It’s right up there with lemony garlic olives, medjool dates, sourdough bread and smoked salmon (preferably not all in the same meal…although, who knows?)

Unfortunately, most of the commercial granola’s lining up the grocery isles are packed to the brim with more than just flavor.  Granola is oftentimes a very dense source of sugar, fats, and calories.

So, long story short, if you’re like me and think granola is just the next best thing since sliced english muffins, then you’ll be happy to cook up this recipe!

My brother’s girlfriend shared this recipe on her blog No Gluten, Yes Vegan.  I knew I had to try it as soon as she posted it.

The recipe is completely up my alley.  (She had me at the word “crunchy!”)

And I liked the nutrition side to this granola as well.  Very little sugar.  No added oils (just whole foods in the form of nuts, flax and peanut butter.)  High in protein and fiber.  Flavor galore.

I couldn’t wait until breakfast to test out the granola, so I poured a little into a bowl, sliced up some bananas and poured on some unsweetened almond milk.

First thought: crunch.

Second thought: subtly sweet.

Third thought: addicting.

Final thought: granola, as always, I love you.

Homemade Granola – as seen on No Gluten, Yes Vegan

Kelsey recommends serving this with fresh fruit and almond milk in the morning for breakfast.  I like her thinking and plan on doing just that!  This would also be delicious served with warm milk and mixed berries.  The options are endless!

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (original version calls for brown rice syrup but I improvised with what I had on hand!)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 6 Tbps. unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup millet (uncooked)
  • 1 cup almonds (original version calls for slivered; I used whole, as this is what I had on hand)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Line one very large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Spread mixture over the parchment paper and place in preheated oven.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once half way through.
  8. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/storing.  Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition notes: Makes about 9 cups.  A 3/4 cup serving size provides 320calories, 10g protein and 7g fiber.

Weight Maintenance: The Incredible, Edible Balancing Act…

…Or…

“How To Say Goodbye to Diet Monday.”

You know the drill.  You plan on eating “good” all week, but then someone rolls out the birthday cake and you tell yourself you’ll give in just this one last time (and then you’ll be “good” once again on Monday.)  This is what we, of course, know as Diet Monday.  Before you know it, the scale starts creeping up and you find yourself wondering why maintaining your weight is just so gosh darn hard!

Let me introduce you to what has worked for me.  What I fondly refer to as The Incredible, Edible Balancing Act.

First an explanation of what this roughly drawn map of my life actually means…

The middle line represents absolute, 100% balance.  The place where I am eating exactly the same amount of calories that I burn (through exercise and/or just my average, daily activities.)

The middle line is, actually, a totally unrealistic place.

No two days are ever exactly alike, after all.  Some days I eat cookies and pizza (note: the dotted line goes up.)  Some days I forgo dessert in favor of orange slices (the dotted line goes down.)  The important thing is balance.  If I eat a lot for a couple of days, I’ll make it a point to eat a little less for a day or two afterwards.  If I know a party is coming up and I’ll be enjoying some wine and appetizers, I might skip my nightly chocolate for a couple days ahead.

I mentally try to keep myself as close to the middle line as possible, but since the middle line is (in all actuality) completely unrealistic, I allow myself to veer off now and then.  As long as I have a few low days to make up for the high days, everything evens out.

How to make this work for you…

  • It’s important to never let the dotted line go so low that you find yourself entering starvation mode.  Starving = overeating.  The point is just to shave off some excess calories here and there.  Repeat after me:  Do NOT enter diet mode.
  • Don’t use this concept so that you can binge one day and under eat the next.  The underlying principle is balance, health, and happiness.
  • In figuring out which excess calories to shave off on “low” days, cut out calories that you could care less about.  For example, use 1 Tbsp. dressing on your salad instead of 2.  Have 1 medium scoop of potatoes with dinner instead of 2.  Etc, etc, etc.  Don’t let yourself feel deprived!
  • Don’t focus on the logistics of this principle.  Just understanding the idea behind it and then implementing those ideas will go far in helping you maintain your weight.

QUESTION: What are some tips that have worked for you in maintaining your weight?

A “Healthier” Cookie.

I had a hankering to bake today.

To blend and mix and whip.

With butter and sugar and that kind of thing.

I think people are often surprised to learn how much many dietitians enjoy baking (and eating said baked goods!)  Many of us are foodies by nature, and so we jump at the chance to bake whenever we can.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we add a gazillion calories to every single baked good that we make (although there is a time and place for that too!)  I often like to put recipes to the test with some of these subtle little tweaks.

My Top 4 Ways To Make a “Healthier” Cookie:

1. Cut the sugar in half.

Unless your recipe is already “healthier” to begin with (say, from Cooking Light or Eating Well), you can easily cut the sugar in half without noticing any changes.

2. Substitute half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.

Whole wheat flour has a nice nutty texture that pairs perfectly with many cookies (especially chocolate chip!)  You can try different proportions of all purpose to whole wheat, but I’ve found that simply cutting it 50/50 gives the best texture without taking away any fluffiness!  By doing this, you’re instantly adding a little fiber and good-for-you nutrients.

3. Cut the butter in 1/4 to 1/2.

Different recipes will lend different results.  Try different proportions and see what works for you.  If you find that it results in a dry cookie, try adding in an equal measurement of unsweetened applesauce (e.g., if the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup applesauce.)

4. Shrink the portions.

This needs no explanation.  Shrink the size of your cookies and suddenly having two with a glass of milk isn’t such a big deal.  I have a special tablespoon cookie scoop that automatically keeps my portions in check!

Ingredients you shouldn’t be be worrying about…

  • Eggs.  Yes, they’re high in cholesterol, which is why they get such a bad rap.  But most reliable research has shown us that the cholesterol in eggs does not effect our blood cholesterol.  I’m not saying go out and eat a dozen eggs every day.  But there’s also nothing wrong with using a couple in your favorite recipes.
  • Chocolate.  Don’t go for cheapo chocolate that leaves you feeling unsatisfied.  My personal favorites are Ghirardelli and Godiva.  Also, if you’re following #4, you won’t be eating a ton of chocolate in one sitting anyways.  May as well enjoy it!
  • Nuts.  Walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.  They’re all full of good for you fats.  And, again, going back to #4, as long as the portions are being kept small, these are a healthy cookie addition!

After all is said and done, enjoy a couple of your favorite cookies!  There is always room in a healthy diet for a cookie or two.

Just keep an eye out.

You never know who may want to steal them. 😉

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – with subtle “healthy” changes

The important thing to remember in “healthifying” a cookie recipe is that we’re talking dessert.  You want the final result to remain rich, satisfying, sweet, delicious.  The moment you cross the border of it being dry and tasteless is the moment you’ve gone too far.  Have fun and tweak your recipes slowly to see what works!

  • 2 cups semi-sweet ghirardelli chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (or 1/2 cup butter with 1/4 cup applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Simply Breakfast.

After a week long running hiatus, I decided to lace up my sneaks and hit the road for a little 4-mile run yesterday.  It was going against “plan”, but it just felt right.

(In other words, when New England hits 50 degrees in mid-January, you just gotta ‘run’ with it!)

I guess my metabolism got used to not doing anything over this past week, because this morning I woke up hungry!!!  Thank goodness for breakfast.

I went through a spurt when I had breakfast cookies every.single.morning.  Now I have them less often but I still like to make them a regular entry into my breakfast routine.

A cold morning meal served with a side of ice cold, unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

(Subconsciously I’m pretending it’s summer.  A girl can dream. 😉 )

With a full belly and happy taste buds, I’m now I’m ready for my day to begin.

Happy Sunday!

Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Cookie

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (100% pumpkin)
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. salted almond butter
  • 1-2 tsp crushed flax seed
  • 3/4 very ripe banana, mashed well
  • 1 tsp molasses (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all of above ingredients.  Smash well to incorporate all ingredients. If mixture looks too soft, add more flax.  If it’s too dry, add a splash of milk.
  2. Spread evenly on a small plate with a fork.  Flatten and spread out evenly.  Pop in fridge overnight.
  3. Take out of fridge the next morning and top with a few more slices of banana.  Enjoy with a glass of your favorite milk!

QUESTION: What are you enjoying for breakfast this morning?

Baking.

Christmas in my house is pretty special.

There’s tree decorating.  Christmas music.  Laughing until your belly aches.  Bible reading.  Yankee swapping.

And baking.

Lots and lots of baking.

In terms of baking cookies, my tradition has always been to…well…break tradition.

“I don’t want to bake the same thing twice.”  Yep.  That was my motto.

But being the sentimental sort that I tend to be, I couldn’t resist making at least one traditional recipe this year, which happened to be these snowmen cookies.  I remember making these back when I was really, really little, and baking them once again just felt right.

Baking is definitely one of my most favorite things about Christmas.

I mean.

There’s just something really wonderful about mixing up a batter of butter and cream cheese or melting a pot of chocolate for cookie dunking.  Sigh.  It makes me so deliciously happy.

I’ve got to be honest though.  Now that Christmas is past, I’m feeling a little full.

Full of butter.

Full of sugar.

Full of everything in between.

I’d say that it’s a good time to get back on track with a little balance.  A little more salad, a little less sugar.  😉

5 Things To Stop Throwing Out.

1. Egg Yolks.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, up to one egg yolk per day has shown no increased effects on heart disease (or 2 egg yolks, 3 days a week.)  And egg yolks are rich in choline, which promotes those “happy hormones” such as serotonin.  They’re also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two important nutrients that promote eye health.

Common sense says not to go hog wild on eating egg yolks but certainly don’t toss them either!

2. Vegetable Scraps.

If you find yourself frequently tossing veggie scraps like carrot peels or celery heads into the trash, toss them in the freezer instead!  Simply fill up a large zip-lock bag with the scraps and when the bag is full, boil the scraps with just enough water to cover.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

(You can add a can of unsalted tomato juice for extra flavor too!)

3. Vegetable Peels.

Veggie peels can add a lot of fiber to an otherwise low-fiber diet.

Roast the potatoes with the peel still on.  Purchase thin-skinned baby cucumbers and dice into your salad.  Buy organic carrots and shred (peel and all!) into your stir fry.

Fiber up!

4. Peanut Butter Jars.

Reuse these fun little jars for all sorts of things, like storing buttons, loose change, chia seeds, pet treats, rice, etc.

(Same goes for jam jars!)

5. Egg Whites.

Speaking of eggs…

Have you ever had a recipe call for egg yolk only and ended up tossing the egg white?  Instead, you could…

Throw it into your oatmeal during the last 2 minutes of cooking time for a protein boost.  Or make an egg white scramble with veggies and cheese.  Or microwave the egg white with a little salt and pepper, and then eat it on the side of your morning toast.

Oh the possibilities.

(When covered tightly in the fridge with plastic wrap, egg whites will last up to 4 days.)

Ch-ch-chia!

I’ve been using chia seeds a lot lately.  In my oatmeal.  In my yogurt.  In my granola.  You name it, I’m using it.

(As a side note, I just started keeping things like chia seeds, wheat germ, flaxseed, etc. in little mason jars, in the fridge.  I notice that when I have them in their original bags, I forget to use them (out of side, out of mind.)  When they’re front in center, greeting me each morning, I almost always remember to use them when making my breakfast.)

Now that’s some real fancy schmancy labeling right there, huh? 😉

When it comes to healthy eating, I’m not a huge advocate of the self proclaimed “super foods.”  I believe that a healthy life can be obtained in a pretty simply (and also affordable!) way, with fruits, veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, etc.  There’s not necessarily a need for the savvier trends, like quinoa, chia seeds, etc.  But they’re fun and healthy, and they can offer you a unique way to sneak in more healthy fats, fiber, protein, etc.

I especially like to include them in my breakfast meals.

Like muffins.

These muffins are dense and subtly sweet, and (best of all) they will keep you full for hours, thanks to the fiber boost.  They remind me of morning glory muffins and would probably be delicious with dried pineapple and cashews!

Yum.

Bran Flax Muffins – modified from the original “Bob’s Red Mill” recipe

I began making this recipe only to realize that I was missing several ingredients.  I had to substitute ingredients based on what I had on hand, and this is the resulting recipe…which ended up turning out just fine (crisis averted!)  Increase the amount of sugar used if you prefer a sweeter muffin and use the lesser amount if you like a subtle sweetness.  Enjoy these muffins with a tall glass of milk and a fruit for an easy, fiber rich breakfast option!

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (or use all flaxseed)
  • 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups finely shredded Carrots
  • 2 shredded Apples
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 2 beaten beaten Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  1. Mix together flour, flaxseed, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins and nuts. Combine milk, beaten eggs and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  3. Fill 12 muffin cups evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.  Let cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

QUESTION: Do you use things like chia seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, etc. in your daily eats and/or cooking?  Which are your favorites?  

Meatless Monday: Roasted Veggie Quesadillas

Cajun.

Aka, my secret weapon.

9 times out of 10, when people proclaim, “This has so much flavor, what did you do??”

My answer?

Cajun.

I sprinkle it on almost everything.

(FYI: When my answer isn’t cajun, it’s usually ‘cinnamon’…which I also just so happen to sprinkle on almost everything!)

Tonight for dinner, I made some roasted veggie quesadillas.  Which started with sprinkling (you guessed it!) cajun seasoning over some peppers and mushrooms and onions.

While the veggies roasted in the oven, I heated a large griddle pan and then layered some cheese between the whole wheat tortilla wraps, letting them get all crispy and gooey and awesome.

And then I preceded to stuff them silly with the cajun roasted veggies.

Yum.

Roasted Veggie Quesadillas

Any leftover veggies are delicious on top of pizza or served over a baked potato with a little avocado.  This is a very versatile recipe and you can truly make it your own by subbing in other vegetables or serving them over something entirely different.  Enjoy and have fun!

Serves 3

  • 1 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • 3 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • 3/4 cup Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Mix vegetables together on cookie sheet that has been coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle liberally with cajun seasoning (to taste.)  Stir together and place in oven for a total of about 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
  3. Meanwhile, heat nonstick pan to medium.  Spray with cooking spray.  Place tortilla wraps on top and place about 1/4 c. of cheese on half of each wrap.  Fold wrap in half and press down lightly.  Cook until browned on underside, flip, and cook the other side until browned and crispy.
  4. When veggies are done roasting, open up quesadillas and fill with the roasted vegetables.  Cut in half and serve!

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite go-to spice (or herb, sauce, etc?)  For me, it’s cajun, cinnamon, garlic powder and cilantro.  I use these ingredients with abundance! 😀