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...
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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...
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Nordic Naturals Giveaway

For the past couple of weeks I have been writing on Facebook and Twitter about the importance of Omega-3s in our diet. Let me start by giving a little background on Omega-3s.  Omega-3s are what is known as an essential fatty acid.  Essential Fatty Acids are necessary for our body to function normally, but must be consumed from outside sources.  In other words, our body doesn’t make them and without an outside source (e.g., fish, algae, flax), the membranes of our cells become faulty, plasma cholesterol isn’t reduced as effectively, and we become more likely to suffer from atherosclerosis, coronary thrombosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, hypertension and certain forms of malignant disease (Essential Fatty Acids in Perspective).  Omega-3s can also help with depressions, fatigue, concentration, and brittle hair. The moral of the story here is that Omega-3s are a must have in your diet.  Now here comes the tricky part, Omega-3s are best absorbed from animal products such as salmon, cod, and grass-fed beef.  These animal forms of Omega-3s can be divided into DHA and EPA.  Both DHA and EPA are readily recognized by the body and absorbed.  There are other, non-animal, sources of Omega-3s as well.  These plant-based Omega-3s are great for vegetarians or vegans, however, their make-up is slightly different.  They have a form of Omega-3 called ALA.  In order for the body to use ALA it must be converted into DHA and EPA.  This is hard for the body to do and consequently, only about 5% of the ALA you consume through foods like flax seeds are converted to usable DHA/EPA.  (Top 10 Foods High in Omega-3) Think about how much fish you eat in one week.  Just a small 3-oz serving of Wild Alaskan King Salmon has over 1500mg of Omega-3s (Omega-3 Levels).  The recommended daily dose of Omega-3s is about 1g (1000mg) for proactive support (Dosing Recommendations).  When you eat salmon, or any other fish, you are probably consuming a 6-oz serving.  That means in one 6-oz serving of Wild Alaskan King Salmon you are getting enough Omega-3s to last you 2-3 days.  If you consume 3 6-oz servings of Wild Alaskan King Salmon per week you will be getting approximately 9g (9000mg) of Omega-3s.  This is an ideal amount for the week.  Now, have you looked at the price of Wild Alaskan King Salmon recently?  In season it runs around $28/pound.  My guess is...
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Pedometer Challenge

We are coming up on a busy time of year – back to school – when parents often forget to exercise and take care of themselves.  I would like to challenge you to dig out your pedometer, or go buy an inexpensive one (approx. $10). Wear your pedometer for a couple of days and see what your average number of steps are.  Then set a goal to increase that average number by 500 in the following week.  Who wants to join me?  Comment below and check in with your average steps after you track it for a couple of days.  Let everyone know your favorite way to add steps to your day. If you are worried about posting a low number, I can tell you that recently my average has been LOW….really low.  Nowhere near 10,000 steps per day like I used to get pre-toddler, probably something like 1500-2000 steps/day. Don’t forget to drink extra water as you get more active! If you are curious which pedometer I use, here it is at Amazon: Omron HJ-720ITFFP Pocket Pedometer with Advanced Omron Health Management Software   (Disclaimer: Amazon link is an affiliate link.  If you make a purchase through an affiliate link I receive a small percentage of the purchase price with no additional cost to...
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What do chips and smoothies have in common?

Where we live, collards and kale are abundant right now.  We got a ton of both in last week’s CSA box.  I’ll be honest, growing up in PA we didn’t eat collards (I don’t think I had even seen one until I moved to SC) and we didn’t eat kale at home.  When I opened last week’s box I was a little overwhelmed.  Bio-Way Farms grew some pretty produce, but what was I supposed to do with all of these greens? We started off by making kale and collard chips in the oven and sprinkling them with chili powder.  An easy way to make these chips is to coat them LIGHTLY with some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with chili powder (or other seasoning of your choice), and bake at 300 for 5-15 minutes on a sheet pan covered in a non-stick mat or parchment paper.  I usually set the timer for 5 minutes and then check back every 4-5 minutes after that.  The timing depends on whether or not you are using a convection oven, how much oil you put on the leaves, how crispy you want the chips, and how dry the leaves were to begin with.  Be careful not to burn them.  I have never had a whole batch finish at the same time so i just pull the chips that are crispy out each time I check. Even the toddler will only eat so many chips, so next we tried smoothies and we found another hit.  A banana, a bunch of raw kale, a handful of fresh strawberries, and some fresh pineapple made the best smoothie.  Four servings of produce in one smoothie!  Another hit with the picky toddler in our home 🙂 Now that we are getting more and more beautiful produce in season what new recipes are you going to...
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Spring into a CSA Produce Box!

We all know that eating a lot of fruits and veggies is at the top of any healthy eating plan.  The Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. program is no different.  If you are going to try and get 10-13 servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day you need to find an affordable source of produce.  We have been spending a fortune at our local grocer.  As we get better and better about eating more fruits and veggies each week, our grocery bill has been going UP UP UP!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel punished (huge grocery bill) for doing what is good and healthy for my family.  Enter the CSA.  I knew nothing at all about CSAs until last fall.  CSA, if you haven’t heard the term before, stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically, you are cutting out the middle man, the grocery store, and you get amazing, fresh in-season LOCAL produce.  You get to know the people who are growing the food you feed your family and you get to support a family or group of families in your community.  Your produce never rides on a plane, sits in traffic in the back of a tractor trailer for hours, and never gets squashed on the shelves at the grocery store.  Pretty cool right?  So if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Here is the downside…there are a lot of choices for CSAs out there.  I had you worried didn’t I?  This is a wonderful problem to have.  There are CSAs for every budget, some are organic and some aren’t.  Some you can pick up at the farm, some are picked up at a more central location.  Figure out what works for your budget and your family. A friend recently told me about Marvin’s Produce.  For just $15 per week you get a lovely box of produce.  It isn’t organic, but you don’t have to sign a contract, and heck it is just $15 per week.  Here was her first box of produce.  I was really impressed with the amount of produce as well as the variety of colors. Another option is Noisy Rabbit. The fee is similar to Marvin’s Produce at $15/week, but you have to sign a contract to get this pricing and pay a $42/year membership fee.  If you choose the non-contract option, the price for a basket of...
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