Friday, December 31, 2010

80--- New Year Veggie Breakfast Strata

New Year! 2011 will be the year to eat more vegetables. Start off your year bright and early with this strata.

Stratas are great because you can make (should make) it a day ahead! Therefore, all you need to do is take it out of the fridge and place it in the oven-- breakfast is done!

New Year Veggie Strata

Serves 9

6 oz pita chips

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 lb mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced

3 cups raw spinach leaves, chopped

3 green onions, sliced

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

3/4 cup chopped tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, pressed and minced

1 tsp olive oil

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

2 Tbsp yellow mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and green onions and saute ~2 minutes until fragrant. Add mushrooms and green pepper and continue to saute until green pepper softens. Add chopped spinach and reduce heat to medium. Saute until spinach begins to curl. Remove from heat and set aside.

Beat eggs in a medium bowl and add milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Fold in cheese.

In an 8"x 8" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, add pita chips to the bottom of dish. Place 1/2 vegetable medley onto pita chips. Add 1/2 egg mixture. Again layer vegetable medley and then remainder of egg mixture. Place chopped tomatoes on top. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

To cook: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow strata to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to cooking. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into 9 even squares.
Nutrition Info per 1 slice (1/9 strata): 168 calories, 6 g fat, 13 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

20(ish)--- Champagne Cocktail

This old-fashioned beverage is a nice change from a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve.

AND champagne (dry sparkling wine) is typically lower in calories than other wines. Placing the sugar cube in the bottom of this cocktail allows the champagne to keep bubbling long into the night! Enjoy!
Thank you to my lovely friend Kara for her hand modeling!

Champagne Cocktail
Serves 6

1 bottle dry champagne
6 sugar cubes
~2 oz orange bitters
Candied orange peel (optional)

Place one sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne glass or other cocktail glass. Squeeze 1/4 oz (1 tsp) orange bitters onto sugar cube. Fill glass with champagne and garnish with candied orange peel (if desired).

Monday, December 27, 2010

20(ish)--- Montana Mary Mix

This recipe is named for the stereotype of a typical Montanan. We all raise our own cattle and eat lots of beef, right? AND- we use beef bouillon in our Bloody Marys. Actually I do-- it adds a nice flavor dimension.
If you are going to consume alcohol, why not consume it with vegetables? This mix can also be consumed virgin-style!

Montana Mary Mix
Makes 1 gallon

92 oz HIGH FIBER tomato juice (V8)
2 cups beef broth
2 cups lemon juice
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup black olive juice
1/2 cup pepperoncini juice
2 tsp celery salt
2 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/4 tsp liquid smoke (more if you like smokey)

Combine all ingredients and pour into a large serving container. Allow to sit in refrigerator overnight prior to serving.

For serving with vodka: Add 1 oz vodka of your choice over ice in a 12 oz glass. Fill the remainder of glass with Montana Mary Mix. Garnish with mini pickle, lime wedge, celery stick, olive, and/or pepperoncini.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

80--- Tamales

Tamales are a traditional Mexican holiday treat! I decided to give these a try this year for Christmas dinner. They turned out really good AND pretty healthy too.

The wrapping/tying of the tamales is the hardest part. But, I found a very helpful description by Googling "How to Wrap a Tamale" and I have included it below (don't you LOVE Google?).


Serves 6-7

18 dried corn husks


2 cups masa harina

2 cups corn kernels

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup lukewarm water

3 Tbsp olive oil or canola oil


1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat

1 red pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 medium white onion, diced

1 Tbsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1. Place pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with remaining filling ingredients. Cook on low for 4 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove pork and shred, then return to slow cooker while dough is prepared.

2. Soak corn husks in water for 10 minutes. Remove and pat dry.

3. Place corn kernels in a food processor and puree. Add puree to a large mixing bowl and add remaining dough ingredients. Stir to combine, then knead with hands until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

4. Lay a husk on a flat surface. Place 3 tablespoons of dough onto the husk. When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the other end. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick.

5. Spread about a tablespoon of filling (drained of juice) down the center of the dough. Locate the long side of husk with a 2 inch space with no dough. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back. Then fold the broad end over the top and then the longer narrow end over the broad end.

6. Create strips of husk by cutting or tearing 1/4 inch lengths off of some of the smaller or unusable husks. Use these to tie across the middle of the tamale to hold the flaps down (I used twine).

7. Place tamales on a steam rack in a large pot. Steam over boiling water (medium heat) for one hour, checking and filling water level occasionally.

8. Serve with salsa!

Nutrition Info per 3 tamales: 303 calories, 4.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 25 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber

Friday, December 24, 2010

80--- Crab Cakes

These crab cakes are perfect for the holidays! They have a decadent taste without the calories and fat! I topped mine with an avocado yogurt green goddess dressing, but you can use salsa, caramelized onions, or cocktail sauce also!

Crab meat, like most crustacean meat, is high in cholesterol (85 mg per 3 oz serving-- American Heart Association recommends no more than 300 mg per day). However it is an excellent source of phosphorus, zinc, copper, calcium, and iron and is very low in fat, especially saturated fat. Therefore, moderation is key!

Crab Cakes
Serves 6

1 lb lump crab meat (I used a pasteurized meat from Costco)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1/4 cup lowfat greek yogurt
2 Tbsp minced green onions
1 tsp ground mustard
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (seafood seasoning)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chopped dill
2 tsp unsalted butter
2 tsp olive oil

Combine crab, egg whites, breadcrumbs, yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill, ground mustard, celery seed, garlic powder, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning in a large bowl. Mix well. Press mixture into 12- 3" patties.

Heat butter and olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties ~ 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve with your favorite crab cake condiment!

Nutrition Info per 2 crab cakes: 163 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 86 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Sous Chef-- Kind of

I'm prepping like crazy for our holiday celebration meals that will take place over the next few days..... dinner with friends, Christmas brunch, Christmas dinner (tamales...mmmm), and our big family dinner on Monday. More recipes are coming soon--- I promise!

In the mean time I thought I would share my little kitchen buddy with you. This is Friday. He knows that I am not a neat cook-- I will drop things. He's OK with that. He's always there just in case I need him for a quick clean-up job. The other two dogs get bored with this game. Not Friday. He's never in the way-- he's just there. This is what I see when I look down:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

20(ish)--- Homemade Peppermint Cocoa

Hot chocolate is a winter classic, especially for kids. And, it is not a bad choice nutritionally when compared to other treats (brownies, cookies, Fruit Loops). However, it should still be a SOMEDAY food, not an EVERYDAY food and we do not want it to take the place of other healthy beverages (water).

Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a package of cocoa mix? It looks something like this (not naming names):

INGREDIENTS:Sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel and canola hydrogenated plam, soybean, cottonseed and/or safflower), dairy product solids, cocoa processed with alkali, salt, cellulose gum, sodium caseinate (from milk), dipotassium phosphate, sodium aluminosilicate, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, artificial flavors, sucralose.


Making your own is SO inexpensive, and you know EXACTLY what's in it! This also makes a great gift!

Homemade Peppermint Cocoa
Makes ~22 - 8oz servings

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch is best)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk (non-fat dry milk)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cornstarch

* 1/8 tsp pure peppermint extract- per serving (optional)

Combine all ingredients (except for peppermint extract) and place into airtight containers.

To prepare cocoa, place 1 Tbsp per 2 oz boiling water into a mug and stir.
*Add 1/8 peppermint extract to each 8 oz mug for a minty addition!

Nutrition Info per 8 oz mug made with water: 95 calories, 0.6 g fat, 6 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates

Saturday, December 18, 2010

20(ish)--- Fruitcake Muffins with Honey Apricot Glaze

I've never had a piece of fruitcake. I guess there are still people out there who LOVE it. It is a holiday "treat" of sorts.

I health-ified fruitcake as much as possible. No weird jelly cherries here! I also replaced some of the butter with applesauce and used whole wheat flour. The cottage cheese really makes these muffins light-- very un-fruitcake-like, but so good!

These are a great gift or a lovely addition to Christmas morning breakfast!

Fruitcake Muffins with Honey Apricot Glaze

Makes 12

1 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 eggs
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
2/3 cup dried apricots, diced coarsely
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped apples

1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp apricot preserves
3 Tbsp lemon juice or orange juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, beat butter, applesauce and sugar, then add preserves and honey. Beat in eggs. Add 1/2 flour mixture and beat to mix. Next add cottage cheese and remainder of flour mixture and continue to beat. Stir in chopped fruit and apples.

Line a muffin tin with paper cups (prettier the better). Evenly divide mixture into muffin cups. Bake for ~25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand while making glaze.

For glaze, bring honey and preserves to a boil in a small saucepan. Allow to cook for ~2 minutes. Stir in lemon or orange juice and remove from heat.

Lightly brush each muffin with glaze. Garnish muffins with fruit (optional) and re-glaze. Allow to cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Nutrition Info per 1 muffin: 210 calories, 5 g fat, 6 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber

Friday, December 17, 2010

80--- Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios

Don't give this the "yuck" face!! Brussels sprouts do not have to be the same food that your mother forced you to eat. How can you resist these cute little baby cabbages? Yes-- they can be gross when boiled to death. But, when cooked properly (as in this recipe) they can be soooo delicious. AND they are so beautiful to display on your dinner table-- very important when enticing someone to eat brussels sprouts.

My hubby even requested these for Christmas dinner! He does love his veggies (good boy), but that request was even a shock for me!!

Brussels sprouts are good for you too (who knew?). They have a lot of fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, glucosinolates, etc etc etc. Some new research has also discovered that brussels sprouts contain a substance that can have DNA-protective benefits!

Do not overcook brussels sprouts!! Not only do they lose their nutritional value and taste but they will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell. To help Brussels sprouts cook more quickly and evenly cut each sprout into halves or quarters and then steam them for 5 minutes.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios

Serves 4

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts

3 oz thick cut pancetta. diced (optional)

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, divided

2 Tbsp raw sugar

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup pistachios

Fresh ground black pepper

Cut brussels sprouts in half and place in a steamer. Steam over boiling water for ~5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add pancetta pieces. Saute over medium-high heat until pancetta begins to crisp (if you are omitting pancetta, skip this step). Add onions and 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar. Continue to cook for ~5 minutes or until onions become soft. Reduce heat to medium and add steamed brussels sprout halves, remainder of red wine vinegar, sugar, and garlic powder. Saute for ~7-8 minutes or until vinegar thickens. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste. Transfer sprouts to a serving dish.

Crush pistachios in a coffee grinder (set to coarsest setting). Sprinkle crushed pistachios over sprouts and serve!!

Nutrition Info per 2/3 cup serving: 153 calories, 6 g fat, 9 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

80(ish)--- Baked Chicken Phyllo Chimichangas

My hubby LOVES chimichangas. Not so good for you. The other day I was pretty much out of food in the house, but I REALLY didn't want to go to the store (you've been there, right?). My fridge had phyllo dough and salsa. My freezer had chicken breasts and some cut up peppers. Hmmmmmmmm. So, I enlisted the help of my friendly 1970s crock pot, a happy hand-me-down from my mom, and made some flauta-like chimichangas.

I realize that I have been making quite a few vegetarian dishes lately. AND I feel pretty good about it. Animal protein does contain unnecessary saturated fat and cholesterol, and I don't like how these animals that I eat are treated, and I'm kind of scared of the hormones, medications, etc that these animals are exposed to. I know that plants can provide complete and healthy protein, but I'm not ready to make that jump into VEGETARIANISM-- seems kind of limiting for me (personal preference). So, my plan is to eat vegetarian meals more. Not a resolution. Just a plan. This is not one of those meals.

Baked Chicken Phyllo Chimichangas
Serves 2

8oz boneless skinless chicken breast

6 sheets phyllo dough

1 cup salsa (your favorite-- verde works too!)

1 cup bell peppers of your choice, seeded and chopped

Place chicken breasts in crock pot with salsa and peppers. Cook on low for ~6 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove chicken from crock pot, shred and return to juice. Stack 3 sheets of phyllo dough on a clean dry work surface. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove 1/2 cup chicken from juice and place on short end of one stack of phyllo dough. Roll chicken in phyllo dough to make a tight wrap. Place on a baking sheet prepared with cooking spray.

Repeat process to make additional 3 chimichangas, each rolled in 1/2 stack of 3 sheets.

Bake for ~25 minutes, or until phyllo is crisp and golden brown.

Serve with 1 tsp light sour cream and your favorite salsa!

Nutrition Info per 1 chimichanga: 277 calories, 3 g fat, 31 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber

Monday, December 13, 2010

20(ish)--- Christmas Cider and Applesauce: 2 for 1

The sales around Christmas are some of the best all year! This recipe is like one of those sales: 2 for the price of 1! Make the cider, and get the bonus applesauce (or vice versa).

Apple cider is a classic winter beverage, but the powdered mixes and jarred varieties contain lots of extra "stuff". Making it yourself is quite easy-- and it's a great gift idea.

Christmas Cider and Applesauce
Makes ~6 cups cider & 6 cups applesauce

7 large apples of your choice, peeled, cored, and quartered

1/2 cup sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cloves

1 tsp maple syrup

Place apples in a large pot and cover with 9 cups of water. Add sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and syrup. Boil on high heat for one hour uncovered. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for additional two hours covered, stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove cinnamon sticks (set aside to dry) and cloves. Use a potato masher to mash apples. Using a ladle, scoop mixture into a strainer over a large bowl. Gently press apples with a spoon to squeeze out any additional juice. Place mashed apples into a separate bowl. Continue process until all juice and apples are separated.

Place cider into glass bottles with a cinnamon stick! Do the same with the applesauce.

I like to gift the cider packaged with a small bottle of adult beverage to complement!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

80(ish)--- Crisp Olive Oil Flatbread

I brought my Feta & Date Cheese Balls to a Christmas party last night, and I needed a cracker of some sort to spread it on. I wanted to make something that didn't distract from the flavors in the cheese balls but I also wanted a yummy homemade taste.

Crisp flatbread!! You can modify this recipe to meet your needs. You could add sprigs of rosemary or Parmesan cheeese to the top also! As far as baking goes, these were really easy! However, note that each flatbread should be cooked separately for even cooking, so allow for time for that!

Crisp Olive Oil Flatbread
Serves 10

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more for brushing)
Sea salt flakes

Preheat oven and large heavy baking sheet to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add water and oil. Use a spoon to gradually stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Gently knead dough 4-5 times on a clean work surface.

Divide dough into 3 even pieces. Cover with plastic wrap. Roll out one ball at a time with a rolling pin to a 10-12" round(ish) shape. In my opinion, the more rustic the shape the better!

Place dough on a piece of parchment paper and place on the preheated baking sheet. With a pastry brush, lightly brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt flakes (this is where you would add the rosemary sprigs or Parmesan cheese-- press them gently into dough).

Place sheet on a rack in the bottom half of oven and bake for ~15 minutes, until flatbread is firm in texture and slightly browned around edges.

Repeat rolling out, prepping and baking with 2 remaining dough balls. Cut baked flatbread into pieces of your desired size and shape.

Serving idea: line a gift box with tissue paper, fill with flatbread pieces and garnish with ribbon.

Nutrition Info per 3-2" square pieces: 156 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates

Friday, December 10, 2010

80--- Fried Rice Quinoa

There is actually no rice in this recipe, but what would you think of if I titled this one "Fried Quinoa"? Not a great visual.

This is Asian-style fried rice, but with quinoa!! Quinoa is a great healthy whole grain (seed) with lots of protein! Fun fact: quinoa once saved parts of Africa from a famine! Cooking tip: make sure you rinse quinoa with cold water prior to cooking to alleviate the sour-bitter taste that it can have if this step is skipped! In 1/2 cup of quinoa there is 4 g protein! That's double the amount in rice (brown or white). Quinoa also contains lots of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. AND it is a naturally gluten-free whole grain!

You can omit the eggs from this recipe and enjoy this as a vegan meal! We ate this as our main dish, but it would complement some sweet and sour chicken or wonton soup very well as a side!

Fried Rice Quinoa
Serves 6 (1 1/2 cup main dish) or 12 (3/4 cup side dish)

2 cups raw quinoa
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups lima beans, cooked (frozen and heated are fine)
1/2 cups Chinese pea pods
2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced/chopped
4 medium eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits
3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
3 Tbsp lite soy sauce
Green onion, sliced for garnish

Rinse 2 cups quinoa in cold water and drain. Boil 4 cups broth in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for ~30 minutes of until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit uncovered for 5 minutes.

Heat sesame oil over medium-high heat in a large wok or skillet. Add carrots and saute until slightly tender. Add mushrooms and pea pods. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for ~ 5 minutes. Scrape vegetables to one side of pan and add beaten eggs to other side. Scramble eggs until cooked through and then mix into vegetables. Stir in lima beans and pineapple and mix to combine. Gently fold in quinoa and soy sauce. Heat for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.

Garnish with sliced green onions!

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cup serving: 285 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 15 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

80(ish)--- Peppermint Vanilla Meringues

Christmas cookie season is upon us. I usually leave this festive practice to my mother-in-law, but this year I think I will join in.

I've always heard about these airy little cookie treasure called "meringues" but I had never had one. The best part? Each of these treats contains only 8 calories, no fat, 2 g sugar, and they are gluten-free.
In my opinion, making a meringue (used to top pies) can be a stressful endeavor. What if stiff peaks don't form? Are your egg whites too cold? Too much sugar? Was there yolk mixed in somewhere with your whites?

Don't fret! These were so easy! You can use just about any pure extract or oil to flavor these: almond, peppermint, vanilla, butter, coffee, chocolate, hazelnut.......

Vanilla Peppermint Meringues
Makes 80 cookies

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tarter

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Carefully separate egg whites from yolk. Tip: break each egg over a small bowl and separate white into bowl, making sure that no yolk follows the white. THEN transfer that white into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Repeat for 2 remaining eggs. This way, if you do have some yolk "seepage" it will not contaminate your other whites!

Add cream of tarter to egg white and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. Add extracts and beat for additional 30 seconds.

Using a spatula, place meringue into a large ziploc bag. Seal bag with a small amount of air remaining inside. Carefully cut off one corner of the bag to create a 1/2 inch hole.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place a small drop of meringue under each corner of paper to help secure it to the pan. Gently squeeze meringue from bag to form drops 1 1/2" in diameter. Continue process to fill baking sheet, placing drops 1/2" apart.

Place oven racks in middle 1/3 of oven. Place one baking sheet on each rack and bake for ~1 hour or until meringues are crispy and cooked through. Remove meringues from baking sheet and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container (up to 5 days).

If meringues become chewy prior to serving, place in 200 degree oven for ~10 minutes to crisp.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

80--- White Chicken Chili

This slow cooker recipe is such an easy, healthy meal! Just throw everything into the crock pot before you head up to the ski hill and when you get's done! This recipe is also gluten-free and has tons of healthy fiber! Omit the chicken and you have a great vegan meal!

Navy beans are small cream-colored beans that have a mild flavor. The fiber that they contain helps to after-meal blood sugar levels as well has helps to lower cholesterol. All beans are fat-free sources of good quality protein. Navy beans are also good sources of folate, manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and iron.

White Chicken Chili
Serves 8

2 chicken breasts, baked or grilled and diced
8 oz canned roasted diced green chilies (or roast and dice your own)
2-15 oz cans navy beans, drained
2-15 oz cans great northern beans, drained
1-15 oz can roasted diced tomatoes, drained (or roast and dice your own)
1 medium green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 medium red pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed and finely minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
4 cups chicken broth

Combine all ingredients into a large crock pot. Heat over low heat for 6 hours. Serve with 1 Tbsp of sour cream and garnish with crushed red pepper flakes (optional).

Nutrition Info per ~2 cups chili: 261 calories, 2 g fat, 24 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 9.4 g fiber

Monday, December 6, 2010

20--- Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Time for a 20! This is one of my quick go-to appetizers. Everyone loves them-- especially those who have a liking for the salty-sweet combo! You can also stuff them with almonds, blue cheese, goat cheese, or olive tapenade (recipe coming soon) and then wrap them with bacon. There's not many recipes with only TWO ingredients that are so good! On that note, you could probably wrap bacon around a tire and make it taste scrumptious.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Serves 12

24 dried pitted dates
8 slices of bacon, medium thickness, sliced into thirds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap a bacon slice third around each date and secure with a toothpick (place the toothpick through meaty parts of bacon for the best hold).

Place dates in a baking dish on the middle rack of oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until bacon is fully cooked.

Best served hot, however these can be reheated in the microwave if needed!

Friday, December 3, 2010

80--- Shrimp Jambalaya

The heat in this dish totally defrosted my toes. To spice it up add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or extra hot sauce!

Shrimp Jambalaya
Serves 6

1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed and finely minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp vegetable seasoning mix

2 tsp hot sauce of your choice (I used Tabasco)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
14oz chicken stock
1 1/2 lbs de-veined and peeled shrimp

3 cups brown rice, prepared

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add garlic, onion, peppers and celery. Saute until onion becomes translucent and fragrant. Sprinkle mixture with flour and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in chicken stock, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, vegetable seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and shrimp. Cover and cook ~ 15-20 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and mixture thickens.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups of mixture into bowls and top with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice. Add additional hot sauce if you choose!
Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cups jambalaya with 1/2 cup rice: 285 calories, 5 g fat, 26 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nutrition Tip: Kids and Food

"MY KIDS WILL NOT EAT THAT." Alright parents-- how many have you have uttered those words?

You love your kids, right? Well kids need healthy food. No multivitamin can take the place of vegetables (not even the cute gummy ones).

I'm sure you want to raise healthy independent children. That means they can take responsibility for their actions and make some of their own decisions, right? Yes. Is disliking all vegetables without reason a good decision? NO! Is forming an opinion about various vegetables after a trial reasonable? Yes.

So.... what do you do?

Let's play a game! Here's how it works:

The Power of 10 GAME


1. New foods (vegetables, whole grains, Grandma's lima bean casserole, etc) shall be placed on your child's plate (small portions)

2. Your child has the right to try that food, or not.

3. At the end of the meal, your child (or wife/husband for that matter) gets to RATE that food.

-- The choices for rating are:

(1) Thumbs Up

(2) Neutral

4. That food shall grace your child's plate at least 10 times before a THUMBS DOWN can be given.

5. At that point (after 10 times) your child has the right to not want that food placed on their plate (for a few months anyway).

How does this work?

Kids are curious. By placing new foods on their plates multiple times, even the pickiest eater will eventually want to try it. AND, guess what?? They might LIKE IT.

What if they don't?

Oh well... try that food again in a few months because tastes change.

What if they still don't?

They have the right to not like some foods. I don't like green beans. They squeak on your teeth. I'm still alive and healthy.

PS: The kids in the picture are my niece and nephew, Drake and Keiley, who love vegetables and Aunty Lins's cooking-- right guys? They're super cute, huh?