Sunday, October 10, 2010

Low Calorie Banana Blueberry Bread

I made this banana blueberry bread today- WOW! It was wonderful! Low calorie and low fat, you can eat 2 or 3 pieces and not feel one bit guilty!

1/4 Cup Sugar
2 TBS Butter (softened)
1 Large egg
1/4 cup applesauce
3 ripe bananas
Blend above ingredients

Then Mix together in separate bowl:

3/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Blend dry ingredients to wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time and add 1 cup fresh blueberries. (Any berries or fresh fruit would due, depending on the season)

Grease Bread Pan

Bake for 50 minutes at 350

10 Servings per loaf
100 Calories per serving
Calories from Fat 23, 2.5 grams total fat, 14mg cholesterol, Fiber 1gram

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Genetically Modified Salmon

Just those words are enough to turn me off, but after reading Dr. Andrew Weil's blog about the topic, I thought it appropriate to discuss. These fish have been genetically engineered to eat less and grow faster. They are grown in ocean pens, and require less food to reach desired weight, which can dramatically compromise the nutritional value of the fish. Often the fish will escape the ocean pens and spread disease and parasites to the wild salmon.

Not only are these fish nutritionally compromised, but they could pose an additional threat to the environment with the waste-disposal and water-use problems. If the FDA approves the genetically modified salmon it could be as little as 2 to 3 years before they hit the grocery stores.

Is this the kind of food we want to feed our kids? I am leaning towards no...thoughts?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fry this!

Sweet potatoes are amazing. I really don't like them candied at Thanksgiving, so it wasn't until a few years ago that I became a fan. Pangaea Cafe' and Pub serves grilled mixed (sweet and russet) potatoes as a side in the winter and this is how I got hooked.

Tonight we cooked burgers, and like every other American, I love French Fries with my burger. The greasier and saltier the better! But, since I am trying to eat healthier and turn my family onto a more nutritious diet, I opted for a lower calorie, better for you, twist of the fry.

I peeled and cut a garnet yam into french fries, placed them on a lightly oiled baking sheet, rolled them around so they got a nice light coating. Seasoned them with salt and pepper. I preheated the oven to 350 and baked for about 40 minutes, turning every 5-10 minutes until crispy. Mmmm.

Here are some sweet potato facts:

As an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and a very good source of vitamin C, sweet potatoes have healing properties as an antioxidant food. Both beta-carotene and vitamin C are very powerful antioxidants that work in the body to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that damage cells and cell membranes and are associated with the development of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, and colon cancer. This may explain why beta-carotene and vitamin C have both been shown to be helpful for preventing these conditions.

Since these nutrients are also anti-inflammatory, they can be helpful in reducing the severity of conditions where inflammation plays a role, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday...what can I say?

Jeff cooked tonight. Grilled salmon with a saffron cream sauce, steamed cauliflower and carrot, served over angel hair pasta. Sooo good.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cauliflower instead of potatoes, say what?

Cauliflower is a peculiar looking vegetable, and I admit, as a kid, unless it was covered in cheese, I wasn't going to touch it. But I have come to value the crunchy, white and weird vegetable as an important nutrient in the balanced diet. Now for the not-so boring facts:

  • Cauliflower contains a chemical called Allicin that helps maintain heart health and lowers risk of stroke.
  • The presence of Vitamin C and Selenium in cauliflower strengthens the immune system.
  • Adding cauliflower to your diet regularly will help maintain cholesterol levels.
  • Cauliflower is rich in Folate. Folate is key in cell and tissue growth.
  • The high fiber content in cauliflower is great for colon health and will lower risk of colon cancer.
  • Cauliflower contains important phytochemicals which fight off certain cancers of the hereditary type.
  • Cauliflower has been found to be a wonderful blood and liver detoxifier. This is because, the thiocyanates and glucosinolates present in cauliflower aid in increasing liver ability of neutralizing potentially toxic substances.
  • Cauliflower contains a substance called Sulforaphane, which can effectively remove chemicals that cause cancer in the body! This substance also aids in preventing the spread of cancerous cells, that is metastasis, even in advanced stages of cancer! This chemical is released when you chop or chew cauliflower.
  • Very recently, it was found that a chemical called 'indole-3-carbinol', found in cauliflower can effectively prevent the development of breast cancer, because it works as an anti-estrogen agent!
  • Consumption of cauliflower regularly can aid patients afflicted with diseases like asthma, arthritis, kidney and bladder disorders, constipation and high blood pressure.
  • A regular and high intake of cauliflower reduces the risk of prostrate cancer!
  • Cauliflower is an ideal ingredient for a low-carb diet as it does not contain starch.
Ok, so now that you know the laundry list of health benefits of cauliflower, you might wonder, what do I do with it? Here are some options:

  • Instead of potatoes, throw some cauliflower into your favorite soups for a hearty and healthy addition.
  • Mash steamed cauliflower with a pat (not half cube) of butter and a 1/4 cup of shredded low fat cheese and serve it as a side. the kids will think they are mashed potatoes.
  • Cream of cauliflower and zuchinni soup (google a recipe for cream of cauliflower soup and substitute low fat milk for cream for a lighter choice, add zuchinni and blend with hand mixer for a creamy soup.)
What are your favorite cauliflower recipes? Please share!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Juice, Plus What?

I was given a jug of apple juice recently for my kids. The first thing I notice on the side of the label was 15% juice, just above the nutritional facts. Sorta grossed  out, I decided to read the ingredients. First thing in that list was HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Before the apples, before water. This is one perfect example of why our country is battling childhood onset diabetes and childhood obesity. That one ingredient is a huge contribution to the health problems that are arising in Americans today. Read the labels of juices you buy, if anywhere on the label it reads "juice cocktail", put it back on the shelf.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oh my Saffron!

Yesterday I went on the hunt for Saffron, which is the most expensive spice on the planet. Saffron is the stigma of a type of crocus flower, and costs anywhere from $13.99 to $18.99 for a .036 oz. I found it at Quincy Natural foods for $13, in comparison to the $18 they wanted for it at Safeway. This was a huge splurge for me, I mean seriously, I buy wine for $6-$8, I am a total bargain shopper, but Saffron is like gold, I will hoard it and lovingly use it in my food as though I were sprinkling gold dust over my meal.

Here are some nutritional facts of saffron that I have come to learn:

  • Saffron contains many plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
  • Saffron contains carotenoids including zeaxanthin, lycopene, and A and B carotenes. These are important antioxidants that help protect the body from oxidant induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as imune modulators.
  • The active components in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive, and anti-convulsant.
  • The spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
  • Saffron is also rich in many vital vitamins including Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin C that are all essential for optimum health.

So whats next? Cooking with the saffron. You can add small amounts of saffron to rice, sauces, soups, breads and pastas. The beauty of this golden spice is that you don't need to add very much to get essence you are looking for. It will amaze and delight the senses, put you in a good mood and make your home smell wonderful.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Funday

Of course, Jeff and I stayed up chatting late last night, and Hayden decided to wake us up at 7am. 7am on a Sunday should be outlawed unless there are bloody mary's or mimosa involved. Unfortunately, I have been unable to talk any of my friends into volunteering to run to the grocery store for the mixin's...some friends.

Sunday at our house has one agenda and one agenda only, FOOTBALL. I love football days, not that I watch the games, but I love that everyone is home, I usually have something cooking in the kitchen, and the house is bustling with excitement. There is usually beer involved, and lots of yelling at the TV.

Today I am thinking Beef and Barley Soup with Vegetables. Something I have discovered along the way with creating soups with rice or barley is that you MUST cook the grains first, or your soup will taste starchy.

Beef Cross Rib Roast- slow cooked in the crock pot for about 4 hours. Shred it and add about 4 or 5 cups of beef broth and 1 cup of red wine. Chop carrots, celery, spinach, onion, garlic, and cauliflower into your soup. You can also add a can of corn or roast a couple cobs in the oven and scrape the kernels into your soup. Add your cooked barley to the soup and simmer for a few hours. You can add salt and pepper to taste.  My whole family loves this soup, I heat it up on school mornings and put it in thermos's for my kids lunch. Warm and hearty soup full of goodness. I will post a picture of it later when it is finished. I better get to the store...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Grilled Tilapia and Mushroom Risotto

My girlfriends and I went to Reno for dinner a while back, and we went to this Italian Ristorante called La Vecchia. I loved this meal so much, I decided to try and re-create it.

Garlic and Onions Minced with fresh basil, thyme, and oregano.
Fresh Mushrooms (your choice)
2 Cups Whole Grain Risotto
Butter (1/4 cube)
2 Cups Chicken broth
1 red or orange bell pepper
Red Wine
3 Tilapia Steaks
Olive oil
Fresh Spinach

Brown bell pepper onion, garic and herbs in olive oil and add chicken broth and risotto. cook down on low until risotto is tender. Add butter, 1/2 cup red wine and mushrooms, if it seems a little dry, add 1/4 cup of water. Turn down to low and cover.
Steam or saute your spinach. The spinach will be the bed for the risotto and tilapia. Place Spinach on your plate, add 1/2 to 1 cup of Risotto on top of spinach.

Marinate the tilapia in olive oil and garlic and orange juice (just a little) and salt and pepper. Grill until done. Place atop your risotto.

This meal is seriously decadent, easy, healthy and low calorie. Don't forget to pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir to compliment the Risotto.

Spinach is low in calories but extremely high in vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. Tilapia is very low in calories and fat, but is a great source of Omega 3's and 6's and also protein. This dish will set you back about 300-400 calories depending on the size of your risotto portion. Probably worth about 6 weight watchers points.

Salmon Pomodoro

I love pasta. I love to cook pasta dishes as well. I know pasta gets a bad rap because it is generally high in starch which turns to sugar during digestion, and it is also full of those pesky carbs that we subconsciously beat ourselves up for indulging in. The thing is, carbs are important for your daily diet, you need them for energy so you can keep doing the things that you love. Here is a recipe from a pasta dish that I threw together recently.

Salmon Pomodoro

Tomatoes (I love the grape and the roma, but any will work.)
Fresh Mozzarella Balls
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Whole Wheat or multi-grain Angel Hair Pasta
White wine and fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 cup)

Mince Garlic and onion and place in hot skillet
Add a dash of white wine and olive oil and let the onion and garlic cook down.
Add more wine, and 1 cup of chicken broth, lemon juice and your tomatoes and turn down to low. Mince the basil and add it along with 1/2 cube of butter. let it cook on low, stirring occasionally.

Take the salmon and cut it into 3-4 ounce servings. Place on BBQ or steam it, however you like, but if you grill it, coat it really well with olive oil and season to taste.

Boil your pasta, rinse and drain. Add sauce to pasta and mozzarella balls and toss it all together.  Place your salmon on top, grab yourself a nice glass of chardonnay. If you decide to skip serving bread with the pasta, go ahead and have a couple glasses.

The pasta will be enough for 8 servings. With the pasta, the salmon and the wine, It would be about 8 Weight Watchers points. About 450 Calories. Not bad, considering you are getting ultimate omega 3's from the salmon, calcium from the cheese, vitamin c and lycopine from the tomatoes and a nice healthy dose of fiber from the multi-grain pasta. Not to mention the antioxidants from the garlic and onion. Wine calms the nerves and makes the meal better in every way.

An interesting thought

Today I decided I was going to start a blog about nutrition and wellness. I might throw out some random ideas for healthy snacking, or a quick Monday night meal. But I can help but wonder, who reads these blogs? I am on a journey to find out. Here goes:

My children love to snack. They would seriously eat chips, cookies, candy, and other garbage all day long if I would let them. This being said, I am always on the hunt for healthy snacks. Popcorn. Hands down, the cheapest, easiest, and tastiest snack that also provides health benefits. Not only does popcorn provide very valuable fiber, but it cleans your teeth. Popcorn works like a little sponge on your teeth, cleaning off debris and plaque. You can add Brewers Yeast to your popcorn instead of butter and salt for flavor. 

Brewers' yeast has been used traditionally for centuries for the purpose of brewing beer and some winemaking. But although the product has been used for centuries, many are not aware of the remarkable health benefits, which have earned it the suitable moniker of "Nature's Wonder Food." Brewer's Yeast is a natural source of Vitamin B Complex, a highly concentrated amount of protein, as well as a wonderful spectrum of vitamins and minerals.Brewer's Yeast is also attributed to several health benefits, such as stress relief, better metabolism and lower cholesterol. It can also help provide restful slumber and ease fatigue.

So, next time you have family movie night, pop yourself some popcorn using canola oil in a pan. Dump the popped corn in a paper bag and add some brewer's yeast. Shake it up and pour it in the bowl. Guilt free movie snacks that everyone will love.