Recipe Time

Like a lot of you I have been cooped up in the house because of this crazy winter weather.  Not sure how we I can stand to stay inside much longer!  There’s only so much cleaning and reorganizing you can do before going absolutely crazy.  So what I have I been doing?  Reinventing recipes to make them healthier, of course! 

I love fancy food!  My time in culinary school taught me to appreciate what a respectable dish is and my dietitian skills have let me make my favorites into something I don’t feel so guilty about eating!  I have turned some of my favorite “naughty” foods into some healthy dishes that taste great (at least my husband and I thinks so) and I’m always proud to serve to dinner guests. 

I’ve decided to share with you one of my all-time favorite make over recipes!  This dish sounds daunting but is really easy and tastes amazing!

Coq Au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

-1/4 cup olive oil

-1 whole chicken cut into 6 pieces (2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs), skin removed

-all purpose flour for dusting chicken

-kosher salt

-freshly ground black pepper

-2 cloves garlic, chopped

-2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed

-2 cups baby bella mushroons

-1 small bag baby carrots

-1 bottle of Burgundy wine (sometimes I just use a bottle of 2 buck chuck Cabernet Sauvignon)

-2 cups low sodium (or if you can find it sodium free) chicken stock/broth

-5-6 sprigs fresh thyme

-2 teaspoons herbs de Provence

-3 bay leaves

-Fresh parsley, for garnish

In a dutch oven heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Dredge each piece in flour shaking off any access to have a light coating.  When oil is hot (not smoking) add chicken pieces.  You may have to do this in batches.  Brown chicken on both sides (3-6 minutes per side).  After chicken is browned add garlic, onions, mushrooms, and carrots (and the rest of the chicken and their juices, if necessary).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually stir in the whole bottle of wine and chicken broth.  Add herbs, stir, and cover.  Simmer for 1 hour.  When the hour is up uncover the pot and let simmer for another 15 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.  If you like a thicker sauce, remove the chicken and keep warm.  Mix 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour to make a paste.  (Note: The calorie and fat count below does not account for this added pleasure)!  Turn heat up and blend flour into sauce.  Let boil a few minutes until sauce is desired consistency.  Taste sauce and adjust seasoning to taste. 

I cut my chicken breasts in half as they are usually pretty big.  This makes them a better portion size. 

Plate chicken with vegetables and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  I serve this dish with mashed broccoli/cauliflower as well.  Fair warning: in my house this serves 6 people.  Portion sizes have gotten a little out of control and some may feel that this is not enough for six people.  Something to keep in mind if you are planning to make this for a crowd.

My Coq Au Vin:                                                          Original Coq Au Vin:

Calories: 362                                                              Calories: 690

Fat: 11g                                                                      Fat: 38g

Sat Fat: 4g                                                                  Sat Fat: 11g

 

Hope you all enjoy this recipe!  If there is a recipe that you love and would like to know how to make it healthier please share and I will do my best to “healthify” it!

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Fresh Produce

At the request of my smart, beautiful, talented sister-in-law, Candy (follow her blog at candysbrain.com and see for yourself), I am providing a couple of ideas on where and how to buy fresh produce.  Note that not all of these options are year round in some places so make sure to read the details at all sites/markets.

Option 1 – Find a Farm Co-op near you:

This option is a great way to explore what is in season and what fruits and vegetables grow around where you live.  In most situations you pay upfront for a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly box of fruits and/or vegetables from a local grower.  Some farms will let you pay per box but this is harder for the farmer as they need the money upfront to pay for the seeding and growing of the plants.  Depending on where you live you may be able to buy a full year.  I know by me (Midwest region) you can only get three seasons at the most, but it is  sooooo worth it!  This can be a pricy option upfront but compare what you normally pay for produce in the same time line and you will see that it may be very comparable.  If you feel that this might be an option for you I highly recommend http://www.localharvest.org/ to help find an organic farm near year.  I have to warn you that most of the time you do not get to choose what’s in the box, it is whatever is ready to be picked at that time and you may not recognize everything in the box.  If it is an unusual vegetable or fruit most farmers will provide a description of that item as well as how to eat/use it.

Option 2 – Supermarkets

Every supermarket has the potential to have great produce, you just have to be willing to take the time to find it.  As a rule of thumb buy what is in season.  For one it will be less expensive and two you will be more likely to find better quality items.  If you need help knowing what is in season the Eat Local app (as I mentioned before in Eat the Rainbow) is a great way to find what is in or you can go to http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season and search by season before trekking out, they even provide some great recipes to try!    Also, make sure to check your produce before putting it in your cart as well.  I’ve listed below some guidelines on how to pick ready to eat fruit and vegetables.

Every region has a different set of grocery stores so I don’t think I can accurately suggest the best store to buy from but if you have a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods near you these are your best options.  Not to say there are not other great stores, I just know these two to have a great variety and provide great organic produce.

Option 3 – Online

There are probably more options online than I can even begin to think of but I know only know of a couple and I personally have only tried one, PeaPod.  I am a big fan of PeaPod, especially in the summer and fall when they offer a box of locally grown vegetables that I can order along with everything else that I need from the grocer.  They also offer a year round “what’s in season” fruit box where they pick 8-10 in season fruits for you.  It’s fun not knowing what you are going to get and finding new recipes or trying something you’ve never had before.  I have had a couple of family members be disappointed in PeaPod’s produce but it has never let me down (yet)!  Another option is again http://www.localharvest.org/.  They have an option to search for an online store for items that you may be looking for!

Whatever option you decide is best for you here are a couple of tips for picking the best produce.

1.  The following should always be organic:  potatoes, apples, pears, nectarines/peaches, any berry (i.e. strawberries, blueberries, etc), spinach, celery, and bell peppers.  Anything that has a skin that is removed before eating is not as much of a concern of containing high amounts of pesticides as the above.

2.  Look for non-blemished, bright colored fruits/vegetables.  Not all fruits/vegetables should be squeezed.  Most ripe fruits will smell like that fruit (I know this sounds funny but an unripe peach will not smell like a peach, check it out the next time you go to the store).  Melons should be heavy for their size; cantaloupe, mangoes and avocado should have a little give when you push into them; and most vegetables your eyes and nose are the best way to know if they are ready to be used.

3.  Don’t panic if you realize when you get home that you didn’t see the blemish on that apple or two of the strawberries are mushy.  You can still eat that apple (do not throw it out because of one bruise) just cut that section off.  Those strawberries can still be eaten, just throw out the ones that are over ripe to prevent them from ruining the rest of the batch.   Use your best judgement, though, if it smells rotten or you see mold toss it!

If there is something here that I did not cover and you would like information about or more information about any of the above please ask!  I love inquiries and comments!

Uh Oh, Thanksgiving’s back

Well my fellow Americans one of our favorite (and diet scary) holidays is back.  I know that everywhere magazines and t.v. shows are telling you what to eat, what not to eat, how to eat it, etc.  I will spare you the do not eat list and caloric value of the traditional holiday foods and will just say a few things to help you out.

  1. Exercise….I don’t care if it’s the day before and after, the morning of, or after your meal.  If you want to feel better about your holiday do something physical (playing tag football with the family is a fun way to burn off some of those extra calories).  Then lets try to keep it a routine!
  2. Eat breakfast….I cannot emphasize this enough.  Make sure you eat within 1 hour of waking up.  If you are having a later meal and there is time, eat lunch too.  This will keep you from being “starving” when you get to your holiday destination and then gobbling down everything in sight!  (Pun intended)!
  3. Eat off a small plate….Eating off a small plate fools you into thinking you are eating more than you actually are.  If you can’t fit all you want on that small plate feel free to go back for seconds, but only after you’ve waited 20 or so minutes to feel how full you really are!
  4. Keep your serving sizes small….If there are 20 dishes to choose from please try to take a serving size of 2-3 bites of each (if you intend to try everything) and not a full serving size of everything.  The small plate will help with this as you won’t be able to put more than that on it anyways!
  5. Choose your dessert wisely….Like I said I am not going to give you a do not eat list but choosing a better dessert will make you feel better.  Instead of pecan pie or cheesecake eat a slice of pumpkin pie with a small dollop of homemade whipped cream.  You will be saving your self time on the treadmill if you do!

Hope this helps you have a wonderful day.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!!

Dietitians Don’t Eat Cereal for Breakfast

Eating breakfast is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.  Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast everyday tend to have lower weights than those who don’t.  Eating a healthy breakfast every morning helps to rev up your metabolism.  This helps you to burn the energy you need for the rest of your day and for a healthy weight.

I know cereal seems like a great start to your day.  Cereal companies have you believe that their product is super healthy with heart saving properties and high fiber to keep you regular.  Truth is, though, most cereals are extremely high in sugar and very low in complex carbohydrates (the good carbs), protein, and nutrients you need to keep you going through the rest of your morning.  Even most “healthy” cereals do not provide the proper balance for a great breakfast. 

To have a great balanced breakfast to keep you going all morning you need a great balance of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruit, yogurt), lean protein, and fat.  Yep, fat is not an enemy as long as it is in moderation!  Here are some of my favorite breakfasts:

-Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

Cook 2 egg whites in a pan with a 1 teaspoon olive oil, butter, or cooking spray if you prefer, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toast half a whole wheat English muffin and top with a slice of provolone cheese then egg whites.  Every once in a while I will also place a slice of turkey bacon on it.  Complete the meal with a piece of your favorite fruit (try to eat your fruit, not drink it.  You lose a lot of essential nutrients as well as fiber when you drink it)!  If you do not have time to scramble your egg whites, place in a coffee mug or ramekin and microwave for 1 minute.

-Yogurt Parfait

Combine 1 cup (8 oz) of your favorite flavor of low fat Greek yogurt with blueberries (a handful), sliced strawberries (about 8), or your choice of fruit.  For added protein add a few sliced almonds.  I sometimes add 1/4 cup of low fat granola to give the meal some extra crunch.  If you have a sweet tooth in the morning try vanilla low fat Greek yogurt with 1 oz chopped dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon coconut flakes.

-Oatmeal

I love a great bowl of warm oatmeal on a cold winter day.  Try to avoid the instant oatmeal and make your own.  Quick cooking oats are very easy to make in the microwave and will have a lot less sugar in them.  Add low fat milk (soy, almond, regular…whatever you like) instead of water for extra flavor, with a dash of vanilla, a teaspoon of brown sugar or agave nectar, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Accompany your bowl of oats with a piece of your favorite fruit or better yet cut up the fruit and add it to your oatmeal. 

 

I know that not every morning allows for you to take the time to make a great breakfast so here a few fast healthy breakfasts:

-Peanut Butter Breakfast Sandwich

Toast 2 pieces whole wheat bread (I love Ezekiel sprouted bread).  Top one piece with 1 tablespoon of Natural Low Fat Peanut Butter.  Top the other slice with a teaspoon of your favorite jelly and place 2 slices together.  Eat on the go if needed with a piece of fruit (are you catching on to the fruit thing yet?).  I like to slice half a banana and place in the sandwich.  Just a personal preference.

 

-Smoothies

Smoothies can be a great time saving breakfast.  Skip the smoothie shop and make your own lower sugar version!  One of my favorites is a 1/2 banana, 1 cup low fat milk (again soy, almond, regular….your choice), 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1-2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar) and 1 cup ice.  Mix in blender and enjoy.  You may add 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder if desired.  Try to mix it up by adding 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit instead of the banana (omit ice if adding frozen fruit).

 

-Whole Grain Waffles

Make sure you are not grabbing the Eggos on this one.  Try to eat whole grain waffles like Vans or Trader Joe’s.   Top 2 toasted waffles with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and enjoy.   Of course, have a piece of your favorite fruit along side it!

 

Please be creative when it comes to breakfast.  You can find so many great ways to change a lot of these ideas up and make them your own.  Some examples are using a different nut butter like almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter, make an egg white omelet with peppers, onions, and pepper jack cheese instead of a breakfast sandwich, etc.   Just remember to use low fat or non-fat options when a choice is available.  Serving size is very important as well…don’t go overboard (more on that in a later blog)!

Being a dietitian is hard!

As some of you know I am a registered dietitian, traveler, groupie, wife, etc.  I have a very unusual lifestyle (thanks to my wonderful husband) that doesn’t allow me to have any type of routine.  For some this would be daunting and make them go crazy.  For me, however, it’s the life I couldn’t imagine being any better!  As I do travel a lot with my hubby I get to see a lot of very interesting things, try a ton of different foods, and get to have fun little adventures all over the world.  Here is where it gets tricky…how do I stay healthy when I have so many obstacles and tempting bad habits in front of me?  Well, let me tell you it is not an easy task. 

Being a registered dietitian has helped me immensely.  It has taught me that a healthy life with good food choices and exercise are essential.  I’ve learned how to take control and live my life the healthiest I can.  That said, life has taught me that making the right choice is hard and that the little voice in my head saying, “go ahead, eat those chips,” sometimes wins.   Even I battle with bad choices…I love food!  I love to cook and I especially love to bake.  I’ve learned through my studies (and many trial and errors) what makes food good and how to make my life healthier.  Not everything I make or eat is super healthy but that’s what portion control is for!  Everything in moderation is my motto. 

I hope to share some of my knowledge and experience with you to help you with making better choices and living a healthier life.  Sharing is caring (plus it may just help keep me accountable).  I am always up for questions and comments, so please feel free to share with me too!