I know I put a lot of really decadent desserts and rich entrees and appetizers in my recipes. Hey, what’s life without a little yumminess and reward? But we all know that we cannot live on fat and sugar without some balance. Some of my recipes have a much healthier content than others. In our modern world, most everyone is looking for some healthy shortcuts. This page of my website will offer some of my healthy tidbits. And remember, I’m not a trained health professional, I’m only offering suggestions. If you have real dietary needs and concerns, please see your doctor!
Wellness Wednesday Tip When making casseroles or skillet meals that call for pasta, noodles, or rice, you can save on carbs and calories by doing one or both of these tricks. First, cut the required pasta amount in half, while doubling the protein amount and tripling the vegetable amount. Now, that does not mean double the cheese or creamy sauce! Also, you can substitute half the amount of starch with cauliflower. Have you noticed the big trend in cauliflower, lately? I don’t mind subbing in cauliflower for these ingredients, or for potatoes. I will say I tried the cauliflower “pizza crust” awhile back…no thank you! But I figure every little bit I can save here and there helps, especially for my husband who needs to count carbohydrates for his diabetes.
4/17/18 Let’s start today with some quinoa. It took my family awhile to get used to this trendy “super grain.” It’s described as not quite a cereal grain, but not a grass, either. It also has some very unique and beneficial properties as compared to some other grains. One half-cup of cooked quinoa is considered a serving and comes in at only 110 calories. This serving also delivers 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Additionally, you will get essential amino acids, antioxidants, and a healthy dose of magnesium and manganese. (Nutritional information from Authority Nutrition, The Super Foods, and Mind, Body, Green.) I have found that when I serve quinoa as a base, in place of rice, seasoned, my family enjoys the flavors much more than just a side. This week we made Steak Fajita Quinoa Bowls. Keep in mind you can use this same technique using most any “bowl” or stir-fry recipes and ingredients. For the Quinoa Bowl recipe click here.
4/16/18 So, nutritionally speaking, I have been told by more than one doctor and through more than one publication, that some foods can actually help make us happy. Yay! I like to eat! But seriously, I choose not to medicate for my depression and anxiety because of the L-O-N-G list of dangerous side effects, the fact that they only have about a 35% effectiveness rate, and I have other health issues that they can conflict with, so nutrition therapy is a way to address my mood disorders. Now this is what I DO FOR ME! I am NOT advising anyone to not take their medications or not seek them if you feel they are necessary. My case is not your case, so please DO NOT look to me for your own treatment advise. But even as far back as my diagnosis in college, I was given lists of foods to eat more of and foods to eat less of because of their direct impact on brain chemistry or the body’s production of hormones. I’ve compiled a list of The 30 Best Good Mood Foods after viewing several different lists on websites and in printed texts. Other foods are mentioned, but these are the ones that seem to have the most consistency across multiple sources. What I notice about these foods is they are good for us anyway! It’s funny how nature and nutrition work together in that way. The foods that our bodies need for proper functioning of physiological systems are the same foods that provide benefit for our mental health as well. In addition to this list, I have a recipe for a Mood-Boosting Super Salad.
4/5/18 You will not believe these AMAZING brownies! They are rich, fudgy, and decadent, but completely wheat-free and egg-free, full of healthy fats and low in sugar. You have got to try these…seriously…as soon as possible…like now!
Sweet Potato-Avocado Brownies (makes about 12 brownies)
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 small, ripe avocado
- 1 cup nut butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup skim milk (can use a dairy-free substitute, if desired
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (can use a dairy-free substitute, if desired)
Peel, wash, and cut sweet potato into chunks. Place in pan with enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook until very soft. Drain liquid then place in blender. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before adding remaining ingredients. Set oven to 325 degrees. Scoop out avocado and add to blender. Add nut butter, honey, milk, and cocoa powder and blend until thick and combined. You will probably have to scrap down the sides of the blender a couple of times; the mixture will be thick. Stir in chocolate chips with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Spray 9×9 square pan with cooking spray (you can also use coconut oil for this). Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour. Remove to wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.
3/23/18 In search of a pancake that doesn’t make my husband’s blood sugar spike, but also has a soft and not gummy texture. We love these!
Banana Oat Pancakes (makes 10-14 pancakes)
- 2 bananas
- 2 cups oats
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 TBS honey
Place ALL the ingredients in a blender and MIX. Batter will appear thin at first. Let it stand for about 5 minutes and it will thicken. Spray griddle with nonstick cooking spray and heat to medium high. Pour batter (I poured straight from the blender jar) onto hot griddle in size you desire. Cook until bottoms are golden brown. Note that these pancakes take a little longer to cook and there won’t be as many bubbles on the surface to let you know when to flip. It was almost six minutes before I could flip mine on my griddle, but yours may be different. Watch them carefully and lift slightly with spatula to check underside before flipping. Serve with desired pancake toppings-they go really well with sliced banana and fresh blueberries or strawberries!
1/4/18 Check out these nutrition facts about dates from OrganicFacts.net: Dates are a good source of various vitamins and minerals. Its also a good source of energy, sugar and fiber. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc can be found in dates.
Now you can replace your empty calorie snacks with some of my Chocolate Cherry Energy Bombs that include the goodness of dates, cherries, and almonds. I even included the nutrition facts calculated at RecipeNutrition.com with my recipe. I like these best as a post-workout snack or a little something sweet before bedtime.
1/3/18 Check out this statistic about garbanzo beans from LIVESTRONG.com: “Bowden explains that garbanzo beans have 12.5 g of fiber per cup, making them a dietary fiber heavyweight food. High fiber foods have a lot of volume, but often not an exceeding high amount of calories. The soluble fiber in garbanzos keeps your blood sugar low which keeps you from craving food as well.”
Are you looking for a great snack using garbanzo beans? Try my Guaca-Hummus recipe, or check out these links for other ideas:
12/5/17 Please do not lose your joy! Instead, try one, or all, of my favorite calm down activities. My list of ten things are not simply copied from someone else’s list and placed here for content. These are the things I personally do when I need to calm down and they work for me. How about you, what are your favorite ways to calm down during a stressful season in your life? Check out My Top Ten Ways to Calm Down for more information.
10/26/17 I should have shared this Power Salad yesterday for a Wellness Wednesday, but it’s never too late for some delicious and nutritious healthy eats! We call this Power Salad at our house because of all the vitamins and antioxidants this baby’s packin’. The brighter your diet, typically, the healthier you’re eating, and no, I’m not talking about Cheeto-orange or the radioactive hue of Velveeta! Here, we’ve got our dark greens with spinach, broccoli, and romaine. We have the blues and purples from blueberries and dried cranberries. The sunflower seeds are a good source of Vitamin E, B-6, and Magnesium. While cucumbers aren’t praised for any of the “big” nutrients, they do contain phytonutrients including cucurbitacins, lignans, and flavonoids and help us achieve our daily water intake. We top it off with some low-fat feta, which has such a strong flavor you only need a little to bring big impact. This recipe also includes a homemade vinaigrette, because I just can’t bring myself to finish this salad with a plastic bottle of store-bought dressing. The one thing this salad is lacking is a serving of protein, so we serve it with a side of grilled chicken, marinated with a little lemon juice and garlic. Power up, salad’s ready! Click here for the recipe.
10/20/17 The Health Benefits: Broccoli is nutrient dense and an “ultimate” super-food, right next to spinach and blueberries, and only beets and red onions contain more polyphenols. Broccoli also contains plant-based iron and CoQ10. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene and antioxidants. Lean pork can be as lean as light meat poultry and is a great source of protein and iron. Bonus–by using a small amount of meat in a stir-fry cut into small pieces, you keep your portions under control. There is also a small amount of fiber available in brown rice, if you choose to use it to accompany your stir-fry. See My Struggle with “Made to Crave” for recipe for Pork, Broccoli, and Carrot Stir-Fry.
Green Beans are low in calories and high in fiber and include a long list of vitamins, flavonoids, and antioxidants. Walnuts also contain phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Onions possess phytonutrients that are good for the circulatory system and arteries. Combining all three will give a power-house side dish for your Thanksgiving table. This recipe does feed a large group.
- 2 pounds of fresh green beans, washed, stems removed
- 1 onion
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup walnuts
- Place green beans in large pot. Add onion, garlic, pepper, and salt. Fill pot with water until beans are just submerged. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low simmer. Continue cooking 8-10 more minutes. Drain water from beans. Add olive oil and walnuts and toss to coat. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Our families haven’t eaten the traditional green bean casserole in years-we all prefer this healthier green bean dish!
Nutrition facts found in Super Foods: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life by Steven G. Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews, and the website, organicfacts.net.
10/18/17 Wellness Wednesday: This meal is a Smokey Peppercorn Salmon with a saute’ of spinach, onions, and white beans, served with a side of fresh berries. So here’s the facts: Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. The benefits start with raising HDL levels (good cholesterol) and continue helping by lowering blood pressure and stabilizing heartbeat. Spinach has a long list of beneficial nutrients, including a rich supply of carotenoids that can help protect damage to artery walls. Beans are another heart-healthy food and high in fiber which assists in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and boosting HDL levels. Onions contain flavonoids that help to reduce inflammation which works in disease prevention. Strawberries also contain some of these anti-inflammatory properties with more flavonoids. The darker the berry, the more nutrient-dense it is, so you could boost this meal even more by switching to blueberries. It is have even been noted in research that by combining these foods together, they work together to aid the body in absorbing more of the nutrients. So you could say that this is a real power meal! But it gets even better! This meal is ready in 30 minutes or less! (Nutrition information found in Super Foods: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Katy Matthews, copyright 2004; and www.care2.com/greenliving)
8/24/17: I just found the coolest thing today! I can’t believe I didn’t know about it sooner. It will be a great tool for me as a recipe writer, but I want to share this COMPLETELY FREE tool with you for your healthy lifestyle. It’s usually pretty easy to find packaged foods and restaurant foods in calorie and nutrition tracking apps. However, it can be a nightmare to figure out the nutrition stats for homemade recipes. There is a site called recipenutrition.com that calculates all of the standard nutrition facts for homemade recipes if you can enter all of the ingredients and amounts used in the recipe and how many servings it makes. I did this today for my Individual Berry Cheesecake Parfaits and it worked beautifully! To be honest, it’s a little time consuming at first to get used to using the site, but once I got going it was great and easy to use. I also had an advantage because I already had written notes on exact measurements of ingredients for my blog, but still, I didn’t have to do any calculations. This tool could really be beneficial to my household as we work on my husband’s sugars and count his carbs. You can even publish your recipes for other users on the site. I hope you get a chance to check it out, and maybe even use it to help with your own area of tracking.
From “Yeah, I Used to Run” blog post on 7/17/17: My Favorite Post-Run Snack: Greek Yogurt Sundae-All you have to do is stir in a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter into vanilla Greek yogurt and top with a tablespoon of mini-chocolate chips. You can eat like this, but I stirred mine until blended and it was like eating healthy cookie dough! It sounds crazy, but it is SOOO good. It also makes a great dessert when you want a little something sweet in the evening. You really need to try this!