Cookbook Review: So Easy by Ellie Krieger

Cookbooks are some of my favorite books.  Even though you can find so many recipes online these days, there is something exciting about leafing through a cookbook, looking at the pictures, seeing the splatters on the much loved pages, and picking out a recipe for the day that is intrinsically appealing to me. I am a Food Network lover but have found that so many of the recipes are not healthy.  They are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar.  This isn’t true of all of the recipes, but a fair portion of them are this way.  Ellie Krieger, who became well known after her show on Food Network Healthy Appetite, is different.  She is a registered dietician with a master’s degree in nutrition from Teacher’s College, Columbia University (Ellie Krieger Bio).  So you know that the recipes she provides are going to be well balanced and include lots of colors and nutrients.  She isn’t a big fan of packaged products, but is a big fan of healthy eating made easy. With a toddler at home, a husband who works outside the home, and too many commitments of my own we need easy, fast, and delicious meals. So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week delivers.  The cookbook begins with an explanation of nutrition as well as what the general breakdown of fat, protein, carbs, etc. should be in a typical 2000 calorie diet.  Ellie emphasizes that you don’t need to count every little calorie, gram of protein, or carb however.  She emphasizes eating lots of fruits and veggies, eating lean proteins, and making sure your plate is colorful. After this informative intro she goes on to provide a list of suggested items for your pantry.  I have a fairly well-stocked pantry and find that I agree with her suggestions.  They keep my options open during the week if I suddenly decide I want to deviate from our weekly plan and make weekly shopping simple. All of this information is great, but you may be wondering about the recipes.  A lot of times when you see “healthy” and “recipe” together all that comes to mind is BLAND.  The recipes in this cookbook are well-seasoned and flavorful.  They range from really simple – cheddar-apple quesadilla with only three ingredients – to spaghetti frittata with salad presto.  It doesn’t matter your level of cooking competence, you can easily...
read more

Transforming your favorite cold weather comfort foods

I don’t know about you, but as the weather turns colder I crave comfort foods.  Those foods that warm your whole body from the inside out and the outside in.  The foods that make you think of warmth, that smell warm, and that are warm.  Unfortunately, I struggle with making sure I am adopting healthy comfort foods.  I think about crock pot spaghetti sauce, holiday cookies warm from the oven, hot chocolate (usually in combination with those warm cookies from the oven), homemade soups, calzones, and the list could go on.  These foods, the way I traditionally make them, are not very healthy.  They often lead to overeating and a general feeling of “ugh!” afterward. I would like to share with you a couple of the strategies that I use to prevent that “ugh!” feeling while still getting the comfort food effect I crave in the colder months. Swap a high fat meat for a leaner source of protein.  I make spaghetti sauce in the crock pot using my mother-in-law’s recipe.  It calls for ground beef, canned tomatoes, onion, green pepper, bay leaf, tomato paste, garlic, and oregano.  I typically make a double batch and we freeze half for another week.  This is my husband’s favorite meal and we always overeat.  Recently I have started switching out the ground beef for ground white turkey.  The result is just as filling, just as comforting, but uses a leaner meat. Opt for “No salt added” products.  When we are adding products such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock to our meals we always make sure to use the “no salt added” version to control the sodium.  While the Sahara Desert is often quite warm, if your mouth and body feel like the Sahara Desert you will not be feeling very comforted after your meal.  Too much sodium, particularly right before bed will lead to a lot of water consumption during the night and probably multiple trips to the restroom (which means getting out of your nice warm bed) as a result.  I feel like this rule is more important in the winter months since so many more of our typical meals include some sort of stock or canned tomatoes.  By using “no salt added” products you can control the sodium content of your food and salt to taste if you choose to do so.  Obviously one of the best options...
read more

Eating Well: Southwestern Salmon Cobb Salad

Today I am sharing with you a truly yummy Salmon recipe from the August 2013 edition of Eating Well Magazine.  The Southwestern Cobb Salad is filling, light, contains a variety of textures and colors, and has some kick (which you can adjust to your taste).  You will see two pictures of the dish.  The one on the white plate was published in the magazine, the meal on the brown plate is what I made.  This is one of those meals that you can actually make similar to the picture! Ingredients: 4-6oz servings of Wild Alaskan Salmon skinned (we use King Salmon) 1 tablespoon Adobo sauce from canned chipotles, plus 1 Tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo, divided 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar 2 tablespoons water 10 cups mixed salad greens 1 avocado, diced 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese Instructions: Preheat the grill to medium-high. Brush salmon with adobo sauce and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Oil the grill rack, grill the salmon, turning once, until opaque. About 3 minutes per side depending on the thickness. Combine sour cream, vinegar, water, minced chipotle and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Toss the greens in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of the dressing. Divide the greens and salmon among 4 plates.  Top with avocado, tomatoes, and blue cheese.  Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Notes: We like to leave the skin on the salmon until after it has been cooked. You can try swapping out the sour cream with plain greek yogurt. We find the adobo sauce to be a little spicy so we don’t brush it on the salmon.  We use extra virgin olive oil instead.  Additionally, we leave off the salt. If you aren’t sure if everyone will like the same amount of dressing, which has some kick, just serve the dressing on the side so that everyone can add their chosen amount. Feta cheese works nicely in this meal if you don’t like blue...
read more

Fishy Business

Phew!  That diagram looks complicated doesn’t it?  Fats are hard to understand so in this post we are just going to focus on one box – right in the middle of the diagram – Omega-3 EFA.  You can find this box by going to: Unsaturated Fat – Polyunsaturated Fat – Omega-3 EFA.  Although I would probably be better off by starting at the left-hand side of this diagram and slowly moving through all of the boxes, Omega-3’s have been on my mind a lot lately so that is where I will start this blog series on Fats (we have already talked a little about fats in the Avocado post). Omega-3s are essential fatty acids (EFAs).  This means that the body needs these fats to survive and be healthy, however, they are not naturally present in the body.  We must consume Omega-3s through our diet, supplementation, or a combination of diet and supplementation. Omega-3s are pretty amazing, they help us to build healthy brain cells (especially in fetuses and children), reduce heart disease risk, lower colon and breast cancer risk, elevate mood, and improve learning, attention span, and vision.  Sounds like a pretty good deal, but most Americans don’t consume enough Omega-3s in their diet.  In fact, they are pretty scarce.  You can find them in wild salmon (preferably Alaskan because the waters are cleaner, which makes the fish safer), wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, flax oil, edamame, and Omega-3 eggs (chickens are fed an Omega-3 rich diet). One of the best sources of Omega-3s and easiest for the body to absorb is salmon.  Dr. Sears, who just published a new book called The Omega-3 Effect, recommends that we eat two fist-sized servings of salmon per week, esepcially as we get older.  I know a lot of people avoid fish during pregnancy because of the fear of mercury (I was one of those people), but wild salmon is safe to consume and is really beneficial for your baby’s growing brain.  You do want to be careful and make sure that the salmon you choose is wild though.  If you choose farm-raised salmon there is more mercury and less nutrients.  Although any wild salmon is going to be great for you, earlier in the post I recommended wild Alaskan salmon.  It is quite pricey, but if you can manage at least some of this in your diet it is well...
read more

The Truth About Avocados

My husband’s workplace did a great thing a couple of weeks ago, they contracted with a local fitness company to offer a 4-week boot camp complete with a nutritional plan for any interested employees.  I love when a business will help employees be as healthy as possible.  The I-O Psychologist in me wants to tell you that a healthy employee is a happy and productive employee who will miss less work.  The L.E.A.N. Coach in me wants to tell you that a healthy employee is happier, more productive, and will probably live longer.  Wait, those are just about the same outcomes regardless of the approach I take. So you may be asking yourself where this post is going and why the title is “The Truth About Avocados”.  Here it is.  The nutrition plan for this boot camp severely limits what you can eat and completely nixes avocados (and basically all fats).  The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute has two main goals for clients – to eat a well-rounded diet and use portion control.  Dr. Sears constantly talks about the fact that veggies and fruits are GREAT!  Avocados, in particular, are a super fruit.  Therefore, I would like to take a couple of minutes to tell you all about the great benefits of avocados and by default outline some of the benefits of fats in general. If you aren’t familiar with the nutrients found in avocados take a look at these two charts before reading any further.  Please notice that both are based on a serving size of just 1/5 (20%) of a medium avocado. (http://www.avocado.org/nutrition/)   (http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/) Avocados are a nutrient dense fruit filled with monounsaturated fat, fiber, folate, and iron.  In fact, they contain over 20 vitamins and minerals! (http://www.avocado.org/avo-babies/nutrition-information/) Fat is a really important component of any diet.  We all need fat, we just need to make sure that we eat the RIGHT fat.  Saturated and Trans fats are the unhealthy, bad for you fats.  Those are the ones to avoid.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthy fats that everyone needs.  Based on Dr. Sears’ teachings and the research of so many other doctors and scientists, here are just some of the reasons we need a right fat diet: 1.     Fats provide energy. Fats give us more energy than an equal amount of carbs. (Sears, Family Nutrition Book) 2.     Fats help us keep our brains, cells, and...
read more