Saturday, April 25, 2009

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Thursday, I went to check out the new mid-week farmer's market in Baton Rouge.  I love the Saturday market but don't always have time to go, so I was excited when I found out they would be open in a closer location on Thursday mornings.

I bought the most gorgeous coral/peach snapdragons (these were my mom's favorite colors and they reminded me of her, so I had to buy them!), a pint of blackberries, and 3 pints of strawberries.  

What was I going to do with all those strawberries?  Make ice cream of course!  I wanted to try and keep it light so I decided to use low-fat buttermilk as the base.  I've made peach buttermilk ice cream before and it was delicious...I knew this would be too!  Low-fat buttermilk is nutritionally similar to 1% milk (110 cals, 2.5 g fat), but it's creamy and tangy and makes this ice cream almost have a cheesecake-like flavor.

I don't have a pic for you, however.  Somebody put the ice cream in the fridge after she fixed some and it completely melted!  I refroze it but didn't have good results.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to make it again!  

Whenever I have ice cream I serve it in a really small dish (such as a small ramekin or coffee cup), so that the ½-cup serving (okay, sometimes I have more!) doesn't seem so small.  Portion control is key, and using smaller plates/bowls/cups/etc. can help.  

Give it a try...perfect for summer!

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
recipe by me

Makes 11 ½-cup servings

2 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups low-fat buttermilk
½ cup sweetened condensed milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sliced berries and sugar in a small bowl and let sit, stirring occasionally until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the fruit is juicy.

Meanwhile, whisk buttermilk and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Pour into the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. During the last 5 minutes of freezing, add the sliced berries. If necessary, place the ice cream in the freezer to firm up before serving.

Per ½-cup serving - 86 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated), 14 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges:  ½ dairy, ½ starch)

*Notes - Sweetened condensed milk comes in 3 varieties original, low-fat, and fat-free; I used the original...I think a little fat balances out the sugar.  But just so you know, per 2 tablespoons:

Original - 130 calories, 3.0g of fat, 23g sugar
Low-fat - 120 calories, 1.5g of fat, 24 g sugar
Fat-free - 110 calories, 0 g fat, 24 g sugar

Make sure you use well-chilled milks...I put mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  If the mixture isn't cold enough, it won't freeze well in the ice cream maker.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cereal, It's What's for Breakfast

Whenever I take a client on a grocery store tour, one of the first things we look at is cereal.  It provides such a great teaching opportunity and everyone eats cereal, right?

What can you learn from a box of cereal?  Lots!

1.  Is it whole grain?
Just like the bread you buy should be, your cereal should also be made with whole grains...and a 100 percent whole grain cereal would be the best choice.  How can you tell?  Read the ingredient list.  

If the first ingredient reads whole something (wheat, rice, corn, etc) then you are off to a good start.  But keep there another grain further down the list?  It should be whole too!  One exception to this rule is for oats...even without the word whole, rolled oats and oat flakes are always whole grains.

Don't be tricked by claims on the front of the box.  General Mills claims that Lucky Charms (and most of its other cereals) are "made with whole grains", and sure, the first ingredient is whole grain oats, but what follows is not so convincing...see for yourself (I've underlined the grains that aren't whole):
Ingredients:  Whole Grain Oats, Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellows 5&6, Blue 1, Red 40, Artificial Flavor), Sugar, Oat Flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Artificial Flavor, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamin and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), A B Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A (Palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D.

  Is it a good source of fiber?

A good breakfast cereal should have at least 3 grams of fiber per 100 calories.  So if your favorite cereal is around 200 calories per serving, it needs to be closer to 6 grams of fiber.

And I'm not talking about added, processed fiber either; I'm talking about fiber that is naturally found in the whole grains your cereal should be made with...let's call it whole fiber.  Food companies are smart, and they know that fiber is a "selling point" these days.  So they add lots of isolated fiber to their cereals to confuse the unknowing shopper.  What's the problem with isolated fiber?  It is unknown whether or not is has the same health benefits as whole fiber.

Isolated fiber sources that may be listed include inulin, chicory root extract, oat fiber, soy fiber, maltodextrin, starches (such as corn, wheat, tapioca), polydextrose, psyllium, and gums (such as arabic, guar, acacia).  It's not that these are ingredients to be avoided, it's just better for the fiber to be whole.

3.  Is it loaded with sugar?

Breakfast does not equal dessert...unless you work for any of the cereal companies that market their sugary cereals to children.  Even some adult cereals have WAY too much sugar.  One teaspoon of sugar weighs 4 grams.  So if your favorite breakfast cereal has 12 grams of sugar or more, you are consuming at least a tablespoon of sugar with your breakfast (3 tsp = 1 tbsp).

So I would stick with cereals that have less than 8 grams of sugar (or 2 teaspoons) per serving for adults and kids alike.  In most cases, if sugar (or any of its other forms...corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, any word ending in "ose") is the second ingredient listed, put the box down and keep looking.

One exception to this rule are cereals with REAL fruit; the sugar amount listed on the nutrition facts panel does not distinguish naturally occurring sugar in fruit (such as raisins) from added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.  So although Kellogg's Raisin Bran has 19 grams of sugar, some of it is from the raisins.

And if your new cereal isn't sweet enough for your taste, add your own fruit...I love bananas or berries sliced in my cereal.  Or buy an unsweetened cereal (i.e. 0 - 1 grams of sugar) and sweeten it yourself with no more than 2 teaspoons of sugar.

There are other things to consider when choosing a breakfast cereal (sodium content and the presence of partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners), but these 3 things are a good starting point:  1) first ingredient as a whole grain, 2) at least 3 grams of fiber per 100 calories, and 3) less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.

So what are some of the best choices?

Nature's Path Organic - Smart Bran, Flax Plus Multibran/Pumpkin Raisin Crunch/Raisin Bran, Synergy, Optimum Slim, Heritage Bites, Multigrain Oatbran, Heritage, Millet Rice Oatbran, Heritage O's, Whole O's...there may be others...this is a good brand!

Other lesser known/found brands that have some healthy options:  Weetabix, Uncle Sam, Healthy Valley, Cascadian Farm, Arrowhead Mills

Here are two articles (1 and 2) on sugary cereals and kids...the info can be applied to adults as well!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Banana Smoothie

I think one of the very first things I ever "cooked" by myself was a banana smoothie.  I love bananas and always have (when I was little, one of my favorite snacks was a banana wrapped in "wrapped-up cheese"...that's what we called Kraft gross is that???).  

We always had a HORRIBLE blender growing know the kind you buy from the grocery store that leaves chunks of ice in your drink?  That's what we always had!

When I moved into my first house (my senior year in college), I bought an Oster from Target... it served its purpose and I still have it.  When I moved to Houston I left the Oster for Hil (she likes a good margarita!) and bought the Cooks Illustrated #1 rated blender.  At the time,  the Braun PowerMax MX2050 was the highest rated so that's what I bought (for less than $50), and I love it!  But last month, Cooks updated their blender rating...and the winner?  The KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender Model KSB580, but its a little pricey ($150).  The runner up was the Kalorik BL Blender Model 16909 for a reasonable $50.  

Enough about blenders and onto the smoothie.  I start with a banana (small to medium...and sometimes its frozen) and then add about 1 cup of milk (skim), a splash of vanilla (or almond) extract, a good pinch of cinnamon, and then blend.  Once this is all blended I start adding ice cubes, a few at a time, until the smoothie starts to thicken up (I like mine really thick and frozen...especially when I plan on taking it with me to the pool or beach!!!).  I taste it and decide if it needs sugar...if it does I add 1 tsp at a time until its slightly sweet and that's it.  If its too thick add more thin, more ice!

I do this with other fruit too.  I bought a ton of champagne mangoes from Whole Foods today to take to the smoothies for breakfast Jess - get excited!  Just blend a mango (peeled of course), some milk and a little Greek yogurt, plus sugar and ice and you have a delicious mango lassi!  

Or start with frozen strawberries and blend with 1 cup of orange make it creamy add a banana or some strawberry yogurt.

Always add sugar last, after you have tasted it.  You may be able to get away with less!  And when I say sugar, I really mean any kind of sweetener...honey, agave, etc.

Banana Smoothie
recipe (above) by me

Per serving (one large smoothie with 2 tsp sugar) - 231 calories, 1 g fat (.5 g saturated), 49 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein (exchanges: 2 fruit, 1 dairy, ½  starch)

By the way, I have a few rules when it comes to smoothies (homemade or purchased).  If it's going to be a snack...keep it under 250 calories (which can be hard to do away from home).  For a meal its okay if its between 300 and 400 calories.  At Smoothie King, order it skinny and order a small (20 ounce).

I find that smoothies don't keep me satisfied for very long...I get hungry once all of the liquid has left my stomach.  So when I know my next meal is going to be sooner than later, I'll let myself have a smoothie for my meal.  For example, today I ran the lakes from 8:30 - 9:30 and then made a smoothie for breakfast around 10...because I knew I would have lunch around 12 or 12:30.  If lunch would have been any later, the smoothie wouldn't have been enough (and in that case I would have had something solid, like an apple, for a hold-me-over snack).

Here is the nutrition info for Smoothie King and Jamba Juice.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy Easter!

On Saturday I am heading to Pensacola, Florida FOR A WEEK!!!!! It is a much needed vacation and I refuse to do anything work related while I am dancing/teaching/choreographing/ here is a little pre-Easter post.

Even though all of these recipes would be perfect for Easter, they could also be served for a delicious weekend meal or for another special occasion. I've included 2 proteins (lamb and ham), 1 starch (barley), lot of veggies (asparagus, carrot soufflé, a salad), and a dessert. There is also a frittata recipe to use any leftover ham you might have.

The recipes are from, and if you go the website you can find more healthy Easter ideas; you can also check out

Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic -
  • Per serving - 165 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 1 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 24 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 3 ½ protein)
  • Notes - Remember a 3 ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards...or a little smaller than an iPhone
Fire and Spice Ham -
  • Per serving - 188 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 17 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 18 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 2 ½ protein, 1 starch)
Field Salad with Snow Peas, Grapes, and Feta -
  • Per serving - 151 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 19 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 2 vegetable, ½ fruit)
  • Notes - Omit the feta and save some calories
Mustard-Dressed Asparagus -
  • Per serving - 51 calories, 1 g fat, 8 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein (exchanges: 2 vegetable)
  • Per serving - 187 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated), 32 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 2 vegetable, 1 ½ starch)
  • Notes - I have actually made this light version...not quite as light as the Cooking Light version, but I can actually vouch for how good it is! I use only 1 cup of sugar (I need to try again with even less) and 3 Tbsp butter...I also up the cinnamon to ½ tsp
  • Per serving - 161 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 26 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 1 ½ starch)
  • Notes - I halved the serving size...therefore my version has fewer calories - my yield: 8 servings (serving size: ¾ cups)
  • Per serving - 200 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 41 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, ½ fruit, ½ protein, 2 starches)
  • Notes - Substitute light sour cream (or even better, fat free Greek yogurt) for the creme fraiche
  • Per serving - 125 Calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 16 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, 2 protein, 1 vegetable)
  • Notes - I halved the serving size here too...4 servings instead of 2; you could also use egg-beaters or all whites; use up leftover ham and serve this frittata for a week night dinner the week after Easter with a green salad

When I worked at LifeTime Fitness, I got a free subscription to Experience Life Magazine (a LTF publication). I really liked this article as it points out the benefit of eating more whole foods and less vitamin/mineral fortified processed foods...something I completely believe in! Should you really rely on something like Vitamin Water or FiberOne for your vitamin/mineral/fiber needs? And speaking of whole foods, here are the Mayo Clinic's "10 great health foods"...

Red Beans
Sweet potatoes
Vegetable juice (NO THANKS!)
Wheat Germ

How many of them do you eat on a weekly basis?