Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Good and the Bad...

First the good...LSU won today 41 to 13 - Geaux Tigers!

And now the bad...Hurricane Gustav is heading for us, and I've evacuated from Baton Rouge to Covington to stay with the rest of my family. Three years ago Katrina put a tree through our roof...hopefully things will be better this time around. Keep all of the Gulf Coast in your prayers.

Anyway I figure this was as good a time as any to blog.

I tried to find some "kid-friendly" recipes for those of you with picky eaters...healthy versions of spaghetti and meatballs, mini meatloaf, and a chilaquiles casserole (its kind of like an enchilada casserole).

The recipes are from several sources...Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (my favorite magazine),, and FoodNetwork (recipes from Ellie Krieger, a dietitian).

Broccoli, Chickpea, and Tomato Salad -
  • Per serving - 131 calories, 5.9 g fat, 15.8 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g protein, 4.9 g fiber (exchanges: ½ protein, 1 fat, ½ starch, 1 ½ vegetable)
  • Notes - Make this Sunday night, and have it for a healthy lunch all week; you could have it with some leftover grilled chicken or canned tuna (chunk light…packed in water!) and serve it over lettuce or spinach

Banana-Nutmeg Smoothie -

  • Per serving - 120 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 25 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 2 g fiber (exchanges: 1 fruit, ¾ milk); I modified the original recipe by only using 2 bananas and using skim milk instead of whole
  • Notes - Serve this for a quick breakfast, snack, or dessert; substitute cinnamon for the nutmeg if you like!

Edamame Spread -

  • Per serving - 115 calories, 4.1 g fat, 10.4 g carbohydrate, 8.2 g protein, 4.2 g fiber (exchanges: 1 fat, 1 protein, ½ starch)
  • Notes - Serve this as a dip for veggies…red bell pepper strips, carrot and celery sticks, radish and cucumber slices; this dip isn’t as “starchy” as other bean dips and would be a good snack (as long as you aren’t dipping with tortilla chips!)

Lemony Sautéed Shrimp with Broccoli and Peas -

  • Per serving - 261 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 21.4 g carbohydrate, 30.4 g protein, 6.6 g fiber (exchanges: 3 ½ protein, 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 ½ fat); I modified the original recipe by only using 2 teaspoons of olive oil in step 1 (instead of 2 tablespoons of butter) and and using 1 tablespoon of butter in step 3
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with a whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta); this recipe takes a short cut by using frozen shrimp and peas...buying pre-chopped broccoli will make it even easier

Carrot-Cumin Slaw -

  • Per serving - 100 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 3 g fiber (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 1 ½ vegetable); I modified the original recipe by only using 2 tablespoons of canola oil instead of 1/4 cup
  • Notes - I love slaw salads…I buy pre-shredded cabbage and carrots in the produce section; this one will go well with Mexican dishes…enchiladas, tacos, fajitas; add shredded chicken or canned black beans (rinsed and drained) and have this as a light lunch

Mixed Leaf Salad -

  • Per serving - 48 calories, 3.6 g fat, 3.6 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g protein, 1 g fiber (exchanges: ½ fat, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - Makes 8 small servings (or 4 large); save time and buy 2 bags of mixed lettuce

Chilaquiles Casserole -

  • Per serving - 245 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 31 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein, 6 g fiber (exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 protein, 2 fat)
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with “carrot-cumin slaw”; one serving of this casserole provides nearly 25% of the Daily Value for fiber; on the website, some of the readers suggest using less enchilada sauce to keep the casserole from being too runny
Turkey Mini Meatloaves -
  • Per serving - 196 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 18 g carbohydrate, 19 g protein, 3 g fiber (exchanges: ½ starch, ½ vegetable, 1 fat, 2.5 protein)
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with “mixed-leaf salad” and oven-roasted sweet potato wedges

Turkey Meatballs with Quick And Spicy Tomato Sauce and Whole-Wheat Spaghetti -

  • Per serving - 332 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 39 g carbohydrate, 23 g protein, 8 g fiber (exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1.5 fat, 2.5 protein)


Someone sent me an email to let me know which recipes they tried/liked/didn't like (which I really appreciate!) of her favorites was Ellie's Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach.

Here is an article and comparison on oatmeal...see if your favorite brand is one of the best. As I mentioned in the last post, I eat oatmeal for breakfast a lot...I add fruit and a few nuts and drink a glass of milk...whole grains and fiber from the fruit/oats and protein from the milk and nuts keep me full all morning! I don't use instant packaged oatmeal because I prefer to be creative and create my own flavor combinations and avoid any additives and artificial ingredients.

Here is a comparison/article on cold breakfast cereals too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A New Twist On an Old Favorite

I eat oatmeal for breakfast just about everyday...I love it because its good for me (oats are a whole grain), I can make a big batch and eat it all week, and it tastes like dessert!

On Sunday, I usually cook 2.5 cups of old-fashioned oats with 5 cups of water, a pinch of salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and honey (or sugar, usually about 2 - 3 tablespoons). Then I add about 3 pieces of fruit (chopped with skin on - whatever is in season...recently I've been using peaches or Asian pears that I get at the farmer's market) and 1/2 cup of nuts (usually toasted). I cook all of this on the stove over med-high heat until the all of the liquid has been absorbed. Last, I add a splash of milk to make the whole thing creamier.

I figure this makes about 6 1-cup servings. When I reheat an individual serving I add a little more milk and zap it in the microwave for 1-1/2 minutes. Delish! And per serving - 270 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 44 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 7 g protein (exchanges: 2 starch, 1 1/2 fat, 1/2 fruit). Add a glass of milk (or a cup of coffee!) and you are good to go.

Last week I came across a recipe for Baked Oatmeal and decided I had to try it. I made a few changes and additions to the original recipe. The result? Perfect! Even my sister who doesn't usually eat oatmeal liked it. Here is my version:

Baked Oatmeal
(serves 4)

The sweetener, fruit, and nuts are all flexible. I've used brown sugar and honey, peaches and pears, and walnuts. I plan on trying apples and bananas too.

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
pinch salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup skim milk
2 cups water
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (toasting is optional but good!)
2 large piece of fruit, thinly sliced

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

In a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish, combine all ingredients except for the fruit. Stir to combine. Layer in the slices of fruit, submerging some, in a pretty pattern. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until center is set.

Let cool slightly before serving or cool to room temperature, slice into squares, and refrigerate.

Per serving - 269 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 46 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 7 g protein (exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat, 1/4 milk, 1/2 fruit)

Let me know if you try it! I plan on experimenting with the recipe...I'm thinking lite coconut milk, mango, and macadamia nuts sounds good.


Do you eat out a lot?

You may be interested in this website. It offers healthier suggestions for several local restaurants.

Here is a video and an article about menu labeling (a law that has been passed in several US cities including New York and San Francisco). It requires that chain restaurants post nutrition information on the menu boards at their restaurants.

I think this is a great idea and hope one day Louisiana (and Texas!) pass similar laws...and if you do too, visit this link to send a message to the governor.

Here are some shocking items on menus of several chain restaurants and some tips on making better choices at a few restaurants.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's Been a While...

I'm back! Did you miss me?

It's been exactly 1 month...I've been so busy getting ready for my brother's wedding (and teaching dance) that I never could seem to find time to blog. The wedding was perfect, but I'm glad its over! The picture is of me with my sister (Hilary) and my sister-in-law (Jessica...she is also a dietitian).

The recipes this week are from a cookbook a friend gave me for Christmas, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking Made Light. It's not my favorite cookbook (and the reviews of her recipes are not always good on the Food Network website), but the recipes are healthy so I figured I'd give it a try. If you haven't watched her show on the Food Network, Sandra's cooking philosophy is that "70% ready-made convenience products are added to 30% fresh ingredients". So when purchasing that 70% you will need to read labels and find products that are not overly ingredient lists and choose products with fewer ingredients (and ones that you recognize and could actually keep in your kitchen if you wanted to).

Something that comes up in the recipes is the use of mayo. Sandra suggests using low-fat mayo and/or non-fat plain yogurt. I don't really like low-fat mayo (I think it tastes gross)...yes it saves you calories and fat grams, but it replaces the fat with more sugar (as high fructose corn syrup), sodium, modified corn starch and other "unexpected" ingredients. And actually, most of the fat in mayonnaise is healthy fat (unsaturated); of the 11 grams of fat in 1 Tbsp of mayo, only 1.5 grams are saturated.

Here is the ingredient list for regular Hellmann's Mayo:


Here is the ingredient list for light Hellmann's Mayo:


Big difference!

All this said, I don't encourage you to start adding mayo to is still high in calories. I rarely use mayo...I don't get it on my sandwiches (I use mustard - Dijon or yellow - instead; 1 Tbsp of mayo has about 100 cal and 11 g fat...1 Tbsp of mustard has less than 15 cal and less than 1 g fat). When I make chicken salad, I either use less real mayo (I like my salad kind of dry) and/or I use plain non-fat yogurt that I've drained to thicken.

For thickened yogurt - Spoon yogurt into a small sieve lined with paper towels or coffee filters and set over a bowl. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (overnight would be ideal...the longer it sits the thicker it will be) until some of the liquid from the yogurt is released. Or you can just buy fat-free Greek yogurt such as FAGE, Chobani, or Oikos which is naturally thick.

Try the yogurt thing...its not bad and can be used in place of sour cream or mayo (per 1 Tbsp of: mayo - 100 cal, sour cream - 30 cal, light sour cream - 20 cal, non-fat yogurt - 8 cal).

I also like the idea of mayo made with heart healthy canola or olive oil...most mayo is made with soybean oil (Spectrum is one organic brand that makes these varieties...beware, Hellmann's does too, but it has ingredients similar to the light mayo).

Chicken Tarragon Salad -
  • Per serving - 232 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 17 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 27 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 3 protein, 2 vegetables)
  • Notes - If you would rather not use canned chicken, that’s fine…just substitute 1 pound of cooked and chopped chicken breasts; you could probably use less dressing…when I make chicken salad and serve in over a bed of lettuce, I hardly ever dress the lettuce too...I think the dressing on the chicken is enough; I would add more tarragon than the 1 teaspoon the recipe calls for (but I love tarragon)

Quinoa Salad -

  • Per serving - 204 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated), 26 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 1 protein, 1 starch, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - Quinoa is pronounced "keen-wah"; you easily could make your own dressing…2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 minced garlic clove, and salt/pepper; be sure to rinse the quinoa in a sieve before you add it to the chicken broth (refer to this previous quinoa post); make this a meal (maybe for lunch) by adding some protein…edamame, chickpeas, chicken, shrimp!

Herb-Crusted Salmon -

  • Per serving - 303 calories, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 26 g protein (exchanges: 3 fat, 3 protein, 1 starch)
  • Notes - I would season the salmon with salt and pepper and maybe use Italian seasoning instead of the herbs de Provence; you may not need to cook the salmon for the full time recommended

Island Chicken -

  • Per serving - 312 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 40 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 5 protein, 1 fruit, ½ starch)
  • Notes - Complete the meal and serve with “Best Black Beans” and steamed green beans; if you eat a smaller portion of chicken (4 oz), the calories and grams of protein will be reduced

Herb Roasted Pork with Honey Dijon Mustard -

  • Per serving - 227 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 23 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 28 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 4 protein, ½ starch, ½ vegetable)
  • Notes - Make sure you season the pork with salt and pepper too; I would probably cook the entire package (16 oz) of pearl onions with this recipe…more vegetables!

Best Black Beans -

  • Per serving - 130 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 10 g protein (exchanges: 1 starch, 1 ½ protein)
  • Notes - Sandra must not believe in salt and pepper...add it! If you decide to use a fresh chopped onion, you should sauté it first (before adding the other ingredients) until it softens

Balsamic Roasted Onions -

  • Per serving - 97 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 12 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein (exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 fat, 1/3 starch)
  • Notes - Here are some varieties of sweet onions


Here is a quiz on reading food labels. It is from a group that is creating a food scoring system (ONQI) to help shoppers make better choice in the supermarket - it may be put into use later this year.

ONQI stands for Overall Nutritional Quality Index. In theory it will make it easier for consumers to evaluate the nutritional quality by providing a single score for any food or recipe. Here is a sample ranking of food scores.