Herbs & Spice Make Everything Taste Nice!

Fresh Herb & Lentil Salad This past weekend I attended my Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Alumni reunion. It has been 8 years since completing my Masters and Dietetic internship. I cannot say enough about the opportunities Tufts has provided me over the years, from networking, mentor-ships, inspiration for career aspirations and amazing friendships.  These events always inspire me because I get to see the amazing things my peers are accomplishing to change the world we live in and the way we eat.

The reunion weekend featured a fabulous event hosted by the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) called Talk and Taste. I started my reunion weekend off with Talk and Taste: Cooking with Herbs and Spices  which included Dr. Mohsen Meydani of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA)  , who spoke about the nutritional properties of herbs and spices and Victoria Taylor, MBA, Founder and President of Victoria Gourmet, Inc. who performed a cooking demonstration.

Talk & Taste Event at the HNRCA

Talk & Taste Event at the HNRCA

After seeing Dr. Meydani list benefit after benefit of herbs and spices, as the fragrance of fresh dill, basil and parsley filled the room while Victoria prepared her Fresh Herb Lentil Salad, I thought “what more could you need to convince you to throw the salt shaker out and add fresh herbs and spices to your diet!” Here are a few fun facts that I learned about Dill, Basil and Parsley:

Dill: 

  • Contains many anti-oxidants, vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, etc., and dietary fibers, which help to control blood cholesterol levels.
  • Contains properties which may improve digestive functioning.
  • The essential oils in dill may have a calming effect on the body.

Basil:

  • Used as a supplemental treatment for stress, asthma and diabetes.
  • It’s known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Basil leaves are an excellent source of iron, contains 3.17 mg/100 g of fresh leaves (about 26% of RDA).

Parsley: 

  • Know to be protective against Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Eating parsley can reduce the risk of cancers such as breast, digestive tract, skin and prostate.
  • Parsley offers protection from a wide variety of diseases – from atherosclerosis, diabetes and colon cancer to asthma.

After tasting this amazing salad and know the benefits of the herbs, the first thing I did when I got home from the reunion was to purchase some fresh herbs and to start cooking. My challenge for you this week, it look where you can add fresh herbs to your meals to add that pop of flavor and excitement to you meals!

Fresh Herb Lentil Salad

Makes 8, 1 cup servingsFresh Herb & Lentil Salad

  •  2 cups French Lentils
  • 2-4 cups water
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup snow peas, finely diced
  • 24 grape tomatoes chopped in 8ths
  • 3/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 25 basil leaves, cut fine
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 1 cup parsley leaves chopped

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  •  1/8 cup olive oil

Steps:

Step 1: Lentils- rinse lentils, cover with 4 cups water. Bring to boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until just tender. Set aside cool.Fresh Herb & Lentil Salad

Step 2: While lentils are cooking and cooking, prepare all the vegetables and herbs.Fresh Herb & Lentil Salad

Step 3: In a small bowl combine lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil to make the vinaigrette.Fresh Herb & Lentil Salad

Step 4: Toss vegetables and herbs in a bowl, add the cooled lentils. Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and toss.  Enjoy!Fresh Herb & Lentil Salad

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Quick & Easy… Bruchetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti SquashWith the arctic temperatures this past weekend, and a rainy 8 mile long run on Monday, all I wanted to eat was a big bowl of spaghetti. For me pasta can be a slippery slope.  I tend not to be able to stick with the 1/2 cup recommend serving size, and have yet to find anyone who can. My dilemma with pasta is always volume vs calories. When it comes to pasta my stomach is like a bottomless pit!

Now there are some fabulous whole wheat versions of pasta out there like Dreamfields, Ronzoni and 365 Everyday Value Organic Whole Wheat Pasta. These types of whole-wheat pasta are made from “whole durum wheat” or “whole semolina.” Both described as coarsely ground whole durum wheat, which is rich in protein and gluten and fiber. These whole grain pasta still were not going to solve my desire for a large volume of food at my meal, while keeping my calorie count low. What’s a girl to do?

Well I took a hint from my gluten free eaters out there and gave spaghetti squash a try! It is the prefect solution to my volume vs calorie dilemma.  Each cup of the cooked squash contains only 42 calories and 10 grams carbohydrate (3g fiber)  compared to my 1 cup of Dreamfields, pasta where 1 cup (2 oz) is about 190 calories and 41g carbohydrate (5g fiber).  That is 150 calorie save per cup!

There was a recipe on my Pintrest board that I was dying to try and to “lighten” up from Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom, that goes prefect with spaghetti squash.  This has to be one of my favorite creations, comfort food that I can eat larger volumes without going over board on calories, a dream come true! And for all my vegetarians out there, the sauce is so good so just skip the chicken, you could add white beans for a little extra protein.

Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:IMG_6376

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion chopped
  • 3/4 cup basil chopped
  • 1 container of Cherub/grape tomatoes
  • 3 boneless chicken breast
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Step 1: Cook Spaghetti Squash

a. cut spaghetti squash in 1/2 length wise (I microwave for 3 minutes prior to soften the skin)

b. place facedown on cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes

c. remove from oven and let cool slightly

d. remove seeds

e. scrape the flesh from the squash into wonderful, stringy “noodles” with a sturdy fork and place into a small serving bowl

 Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

Step 2: Using a mallet/meat tenderizer, pound the chicken breast. Season with salt & pepper.  Place in hot skillet with 2 Tbps olive oil.  Cook chicken about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

Step 3: Add onion, and tomatoes to skillet. Cook until tomatoes start to blister.Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

Step 4: Add Basil and Garlic. Add 1 Tbps olive oil to create more sauce.Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

Step 5: Remove from heat and combine with Spaghetti Squash.IMG_6417

Step 6: Incorporate baby spinach and enjoy.  Bruschetta Chicken Served Over Spaghetti Squash

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Americans are getting less than 2 servings of vegetables! Are you one of them?

The latest dietary guidelines call for us to get 10-13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Did your jaw just hit the ground? Yeah that tends to be the common reaction when I tell my clients that! Yet we know no matter what you are trying to improve, you can’t go wrong with getting more fruits and vegetables.

median-daily-vegetable-intake-600x400

But is getting 10-13 servings per day impossible?  Well lets say even if we don’t get 10-13 serving per day, we certainly have lots of room for improvement! The CDC reports adults are averaging less than 2 serving of vegetables per day and less than 1.5 servings of fruit per day!

First let us understand what a serving is and then lets figure out how you are going to get more! A serving is 1/2 cup cooked and 1 cup raw, or as I like to say a fist full (because who is measuring everything they eat).

How are you going to get more in your day? 

  • Your new motto: A meal is not a meal without fruits and vegetables present!Meal is not a meal
  • Pre-plan using Prep-day, having them ready to use means you will chose them
  • Add fruit/vegetables smoothie to your day
  • Add vegetables to your breakfast, eggcellent muffins 
  • Keep them in sight… keep a bowl on the counter or when you open the refrigerator
  • Try baked apples 
  • Roast vegetables with some balsamic vinegar
  • Celebrate Meatless Mondays, make 1 day per week vegetarian
  • Make lots and lots of soups!
  • Dip veggies in hummus/Greek yogurt dip
  • Add salad to a meal
  • Play with new recipes
  • Busy week but them pre-cut and prepped!
  • Make them the main event, like my 3 Step Crockpot Vegetable Soup

What does a days worth of Fruits and Vegetables look like? So 10-13 serving a day may seem like a great deal, but it is actually just about 6 cups. If you had a 3 cup salad each day, you have already hit the 1/2 way mark.  When you see it below it may not look that bad or impossible to get!

  • 1 cup of berries with breakfast (2 Servings)
  • 3 cup salad at lunch (3 Servings)
  • 1 medium orange after lunch (1 Serving)
  • 1 cup carrots/cucumbers with hummus for a snack (1 Serving)
  • 2 cups roasted vegetables with dinner (4 Servings)
  • Total of 11 Servings for the day 

The way I look at this, is we all have room for improvement, so don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers.  Rather take on the challenge with small steps by adding a salad here and there, finishing meal with a piece of fruit, swamping a yogurt for some carrots as a snack, making vegetables the main attractions rather than a side dish. One of my quick way to get more vegetables in, especially during the winter is crockpot vegetables soup. This soup is so easy and it only takes 3 steps… 3 Step Crockpot Vegetable Soup!

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Hidden Sugar Detox…. Should that be my New Year’s Resolution?

It is a New Year and for many of us it is a time for new beginnings, especially for health and wellness. I always go back and forth about if I should make a New Year Resolution and if I should promote them with my clients. Traditionally I have not been a big believer in resolutions,  I am more of a lifestyle change kind of gal. But after watching Dr. Mike Evan’s New Year’s Resolution video, I might have a change of heart.

But no matter what you call them or what time of year it is, it’s still a problem if you can’t adapt and make that permanent lifestyle change. Recently the biggest problem I see with my clients and even myself is that battle with Hidden Sugar and the food industry. Hidden sugar, is sugar that has been added to food products that you probably don’t even notice and often consider some of your healthy and favorite foods.  Our bodies were only meant to consume 5 tsp of hidden sugar a day and most of consume 22 tsp or more!

Here take my little quiz, you might be shocked…

hidden-sugar-quiz-1For the answer go to UltimateBootcamp.com

One of the best lifestyle change or New Year’s Resolutions I think anyone could make, it to kick out all the hidden sugar and get back to clean eating. Well that is easier said then done, so I teamed up with Ultimate Bootcamp  and created My Nutrition Upgrade’s Hidden Sugar Detox.  The program is perfect for busy people who want a sane approach to cutting sugars/ The program is starting Monday 1/14/2014.  So start the new year off right and make a permanent change in your eating and health and join me in the Hidden Sugar Detox.

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Quick & Healthy… Eggplant Parm Quiche

Who doesn’t love an Eggplant Parmesan dinner? The crispy fried egg plant, the creamy ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and fresh tomato sauce. I would eat this every week if I could, but with all the yummy goodness comes some not so helpful calories. The average Eggplant Parmesan dinner has 850 calories and 34 grams of fat, that is more than 1/2 my calories for the day! What’s a girl to do when she craves Eggplant Parm?

Eggplant Parm QuicheTada… my Eggplant Parm Quiche! All the yummy flavor and goodness of Eggplant Parm packed into a portion controlled low carb, high fiber and high protein dish.  This meal is great to make ahead of time and reheats nicely. It is wonderful for a brunch with a fresh fruit salad or a lunch/dinner with spring mix salad.

We all need a short cut every once and awhile, and mine for this recipe is a great product, Dominx Eggplant Cutlets. You can find them in the freezer section of all Market Baskets. The product is great, they use thick cuts of egg plant, and whole wheat bread crumbs. It is a great product to keep in hand to whip up a quick dinner, add to salad or my Eggplant Parm Quiche.

My challenge this week is to look for healthy alternatives for your favorite calorie packed dishes! 

Eggplant Parm Quiche

Ingredients:

  • Dominx Eggplant Cutlets (my short cut)Eggplant Parm Quiche
  • Cherub Tomatoes (10 oz container)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Shallots (2 diced)
  • 6-8 eggs
  • Skim milk (1/2 cup)
  • Fresh Parmesan (1/4 cup)
  • Olive oil (1 Tbsp)

 

Step 1:  Bake off the eggplant cutlets to make crispy.Eggplant Parm Quiche

Step 2:  Dice the shallots and chop basil.

Step 3: In a hot pan with olive oil, cook shallots and tomatoes. You know the tomatoes are ready when they start to blister.  Set aside to cool.Eggplant Parm Quiche

Step 4: Wisk eggs, 1/2 cup milk with fresh chopped basil and 1/4 cup Parmesan.Eggplant Parm Quiche

Step 5:  Add the cooled off tomatoes/shallots and eggplant cutlets to egg mixtures. IMG_5418

Step 6: Prepare 6 ramekins with olive oil spray and fill almost to the top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.  Eggplant Parm Quiche

Eggplant Parm Quiche

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Meatless Mondays!, Quick & Healthy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

December 20th… Holiday Party Tips!

Food Hangover

It is the Friday right before Christmas and I bet you have a whirlwind of parties and happy hours to still go to. Every event may seem like an excuse to splurge, but the consequence just might be the worst kind of post-party affliction: a food hangover.  The best cure for a food hangover it to prevent the over indulgences in the first place. I am not saying don’t have treats and enjoy yourself, but to find that happy place of moderation. Here are a few tips and trick on how:

Holiday Tip & Tricks:

Small Plate Challenge

Use a small plate: A simple change from a 12″ plate at dinner to 10″ plate could mean a 22% reduction in calories at a meal. Those 2 inches have enough impact on calories, yet are not drastic enough to trigger a response of feeling deprived. Grab the 8″ salad plates and put your whole meal on that. You will feel full and still have your favorite holiday foods.

Healthy start and then wait…

(1) When you first arrive at a party locate the vegetables and fruit in the room, fill a small plate and enjoy as you are first socializing.

(2) Once you complete your fruit and vegetables plate, wait about 30 minutes before you select any other food choices.

Rule of 3s

It is unrealistic to deprive yourself completely at parties but by creating  boundaries on the number of types of foods you are “allowed” to consume leads to less variety and hopefully less weight gain during the holiday season.

(1)  Using a small plate, take a reasonable portion of the 3 items you have selected, and only consume those three items.

(2) Once you are finished put it down your plate, grab yourself a low-calorie beverage and continue to enjoy your time at the party.

(3) If you feel you are still hungry, head back for some more fruits and vegetables, and remind yourself “you just had 3 foods that you really wanted and you enjoyed them!

Get Moving

Think of ways to incorporate exercise during your Holiday week/weekend. Give a few of these suggestions a try:

(1) Walk the track during the local high school football game

(2) Take a walk between dinner and dessert

(3) Start your day with at home yoga class/dvd

(4) Many organization and gyms are offering classes on actual Holidays

Alcohol Match…

Alcohol calories can add up quick… especially socializing when you are not paying attention and “peer pressure” to have another cocktail.

(1) For every drink you have, you must match with water/seltzer before you have/order another

(2) Set your drink limit prior to each party/social gathering

Holiday is over and so is the eating!

Eating “poorly” one day is not the reason you gain weight after a Holiday. It is the next day or two or maybe even seven days until every last bite of that Holiday Meal is gone. Enjoy the meal with your small plate, have all the things you have been looking forward to. The next morning after the holiday get right back to your usual routine and start the day off with a great breakfast like oatmeal and blueberries. Don’t let the holiday eating carry on.

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December 19th: High Intensity Tabata Training

If you’re not familiar with Tabata, it’s an exercise concept that originated in Japan where researchers conducted studies on those performing moderate intensity workouts and those who engaged in high intensity workouts.  I’ll spare you the full academic details, but in short, individuals in the high intensity group – who performed an exercise at maximal intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 reps – showed superior aerobic and anaerobic results. And hence the concept of Tabata has taken off. 

Check out the Rest of Working Our Loud’s Tabata Post.

And check out my Tabata Workouts below:

Tabata No Equipment

Tabata with Resistance Bands

Tabata

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