Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tomatillo Soup

Do not be intimidated by the use of the mysterious tomatillo! They are easily found in your grocery store, and you just have to remove the outer husk, then they look and work just like a little green tomato. This is an excellent soup. I don't think I would have tried to make this had I not tasted it first. Even then, I thought it looked too hard. But it was sooo easy. It was served at a church function, and my friend Kiki encouraged me to make it at home. Thanks Kiki! This is one of our favorite recipes. it has very few calories (though I didn't measure out exactly how many cups it makes) and is based on lots of greens.

2 QT chicken stock
6-8 tomatillos with husks removed and rinsed
2 bunches of cilantro
1 jalepeno REMOVE SEEDS FIRST unless you like it HOT
1 whole med-large yellow onion
½ head garlic
Juice of lime
2 4oz cans diced green chiles
3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 can corn
2 15 oz cans black beans
1 green bell pepper diced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Warm up stock on stove in med-large pot, add fresh or frozen chicken breasts to stock. Rinse all veggies. Put tomatillos (roughly sliced and raw), cilantro, and jalepeno (WITHOUT SEEDS) in blender. Blend well.

Add 1 can of diced green chiles. Add garlic and onion to blender mix. Blend well for a few minutes. Add lime juice and make sure it is well blended. Add to chicken and stock in pot. Bring to boil. Add diced green pepper, other can of diced chiles, corn, beans, and chicken. Add seasonings (cumin, salt, and pepper). Let simmer stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Remove Chicken breasts, shred with a fork, and add back into soup mixture.

Optional: serve with corn tortillas cut into strips, sour cream and diced avocado. Add more limejuice if you desire.

Whole Wheat Veggie Chicken Sausage Pizza

I saw this pizza on the cover of Clean Eating and had to try it. It is delicious! They had no crust recipe, and instead basically just said to buy the frozen crust from Trader Joes. Well, I have no Trader Joes within about 400 miles. So we found a recipe online and followed that.

It turned out sooo good. I loved the toppings. Pizza is my favorite food by a long shot, but it makes me feel sick and puffy after I eat it. I wake up all swollen and it just isn't worth it most of the time. This one doesn't do that.

I think the key is that it has a healthier crust, and isn't so salty. The crust makes it very filling. One or two slices will fill you up, where many other kinds, I can really eat about four slices. I ground up my own flour in my Blendtec, but you can just use whole wheat flour if you don't have a grinder or wheat.

Here is what is in the crust:

1 T honey or sugar (any simple sugar that will feed the yeast will do)
1.5 C warm water (110 degrees F)
1 T active dry yeast
1 T Olive oil
3.5 C Whole Wheat flour

Toppings we used:

Fresh mushrooms
1 small can sliced black olives
1 Amy's Apple Gouda Chicken Sausage (refrigerated deli foods from Costco)
Sliced red onion
Bell Peppers
1.3 cups Mozzarella Cheese/pizza
3/4 C Marinara Sauce

In a large bowl, dissolve honey or sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining flour, and knead until all flour has been absorbed and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl, then turn to coat surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for a thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. place on a well oiled pizza pan or seasoned baking stone with a bit of cornmeal. Top pizza with your favorite toppings.

Bake for 16-20 minutes depending on thickness. When the crust is crisp and golden at the edges and cheese is melted on top, remove from the oven.

My pizzas were 12" in diameter, and sliced into 8 pieces were about 170 calories per slice.

My Butterbell bit the dust

This is really one of my favorite little gadgets ever. I love real butter. I don't like margarine. But I hate how the real butter gets so hard in the refrigerator, and so icky and messy when it stays out.

So the Butterbell solved those little problems. You pack a cube of butter into the bell shaped lid, and add a bit of water to the crock to create a seal to keep your butter fresh and cool, but not cold. It stays fresh--they say up to thirty days--and it is so easy to spread.

Sadly, Simone knocked
it off the counter last week and mine shattered. But if you are still looking for Christmas ideas, this is a great little item. I bought
ours for $20 at the local health food store. But I haven't seen them anywhere else. You can buy them online here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Sugar Lion House Wassail Recipe

I love wassail during the holidays! This one is very good, and has no sugar. The original Lion House recipe calls for 2 1/4 C sugar. I changed this to 1 cup agave nectar which made it plenty sweet and cut out about 775 calories to the batch. Another idea is to use Stevia. Stevia has no calories and is derived from the sweet Stevia leaf. It works well in drinks, but has an aftertaste. I prefer the taste of the agave nectar.

In a small pot combine:

1 cup water
1 slice fresh ginger root
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole allspice berries
1 T cloves
1 slice fresh ginger root (I just used two drops ginger oil)

Or if you have mulling spices, use 3 T of those instead of cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

Boil spices in 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

In a large pot combine:

1 cup agave nectar
3 cups water
2 cups lemon juice (I used the juice of four lemons which was only about a cup)
4 cups Orange juice
8 cups apple juice

Strain spice liquid into the larger pot.

**Tip: I just poured the water and spices into the blender and blended them up. Then added this through a cheesecloth into the large pot of juices. It was very tasty! not too spicy or grainy.

Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve.

Makes 36 half cup servings. Each serving has 64 calories.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Healthy Treat Ideas

We all need something that we can indulge in. Treats make our lives more fun and interesting. But we don’t want to compromise our health on a regular basis either. It is great when we can eat treats that are also giving our body good nutrition.

So here are some of my favorites that also offer nutritional benefits:

Frozen fruit:

So simple and easy! Miles has just been enjoying some frozen pineapple. He says it must be made out of ice cream. LOL. I have to admit that I had to recheck the package because it tasted like it was laced in sugar. It was sooo yummy.

Another new one that I've been enjoying this year is frozen dark red cherries. We keep the frozen strawberries, triple berries, and blueberries from Costco on hand as well.

I had a friend whose kids called frozen fruit "little popsicles." I thought that was so cute. And it inspired me. I started giving my kids bowls of frozen blueberries for a snack instead of otter pops and other stuff I'd succumbed to. They loved it. It was Miles and Simone's favorite when they were babies.


Smoothies deserves its own post! There are so many good ones. It is a good way to get something sweet.


We love chocolate around here. In fact it was one of Miles's first words. Jared has a friend that used to bring us some Xocai chocolate all the time. It is kinda pricey, but we've done trades and been able to get it for a bargain. Dagoba is also a good one. I love to break off a thin piece and dip it peanut butter.

Chocolate has lots of antioxidants, and is actually pretty good for you. It is the waxes, sugar and fillers that isn't good for you.

Healthy Hot Cocoa:

I don't have the recipe down really well for this one yet. But it is non-dairy and is really creamy and yummy!

Protein Shakes:

I've said before I love my Jay Robb's Protein. With only four ingredients, it is a good one. Jared has another brand that seriously tastes like a milkshake. It has far more ingredients that I don't know what they are--which is something I try to stay away from, but man is it good! This is it:


Okay, cooked nuts are not really good for you. But my sister Angela made the tastiest salad that had nuts glazed in maple syrup. It was so good. I had some handfuls of those nuts and really enjoyed it!

Apples dipped in Peanut Butter:

This is one of my favorite snacks. I love Adam's peanut butter. You can get it at the regular grocery store. I like the crunchy. The oil separates, so it has to be mixed when you buy it. I dump it all out into a mixing bowl, and mix it with the blender, then put it back in the jar. I've tried lots of peanut butter, even the ones you don't have to mix, and my favorite is still Adam's.

Popcorn with butter and spices:

I like popcorn, and with a bit of butter and salt, it is really good. Growing up, a good friend had fun movie nights with her family where they'd make popcorn on the stove (glad I can do it in the microwave now!) and have orange julius drinks. I loved it. We make orange julius's in the blender. We just put in OJ concentrate, add a ton of ice and less water, and put vanilla to taste. My blender really blends it all smooth. You can add pure cranberry juice for some extra tang.

Coconut Dates:

I went to a raw food class once and it was fun to see the treats they made. One was a date stuffed with an almond and rolled in cocoa powder and unsweetened coconut flakes. It was really good.

Coconut Macaroons:

This is another raw food treat. Take 1 cup of fine coconut flakes, mix in a couple teaspoons of cocoa powder, a few drops of vanilla and mix with 3 T agave nectar. Mix well. Form balls and let dry.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cranberry Orange Cheesecake Pears

I was making a list of all my favorite healthy treats and realized that I had no replacement for cheesecake. I really love a little slice of cheesecake.

The same day, I was checking out the magazine aisle and saw the newest copy of my favorite food magazine Clean Eating. And right there on the cover it had this recipe. It is mostly healthy ingredients--low fat cream cheese is really the only one that would qualify as bad for you on my list, but for a treat, I'll take it. The cinnamon and cranberry makes your house smell sooo good and is fun to do with the kids. Miles said "Thanks mommy, this is the best cake ever." I had to agree, it is delicious and would be a beautiful Thanksgiving pie replacement.

So here it is, in all its 208 calorie per serving glory:

Serves 10


10 bosc pears (really only five total pears, then you half them and have 10 halves. Bosc pears are brown and have longer necks than the others)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups 100% cranberry juice
2 cups orange juice
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise (I omitted this since I don't have any, but I am sure it makes it extra delicious)

Cheesecake Stuffing:

1 cup light cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/3 c dried unsweetened cranberries
1/3 c unsalted, sliced almonds toasted


1. slice pears in half and peel. Trim bottoms so that they lay flat. Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard cores. Place pears in a very large, wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. (I just used my big covered skillet). Add cinnamon sticks and juices. Scrape out seeds from vanilla bean and stir in; add scraped bean husks too.

2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer, occasionally turning pears over (I didn't do this and they were fine) to carefully ensure even cooking until almost tender but still a little firm, about 20-25 minutes.

3. In a bowl, stir cream cheese with vanilla extract, ginger and almond extract until mixed. If the mixture is too thick, asdd a few spoonfuls of hot pear cooking liquid. Stir in cranberries and almonds.

4. Carefully spoon pears onto a large platter. Cover and refrigerate to cool completely. Boil remaining pear liquid in pan, stirring often, until it reduces to 1/2 cup. The sauce will foam and bubble toward the end of the cooking, so be sure to stir often. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon sticks and vanilla husks.

5. To serve, fill pears with cream cheese mixture. Place on plates and spoon sauce over top.

Calories: 208
Total Fat: 6 g
Carbs: 38 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 4 g

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Healthy Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

Last night we had some strawberries to use up, so I made a smoothie. The kids loved it! So I ended up making two batches, and another today. I made a variation for Simone.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups Strawberries
1 cup Plain yogurt
1 T vanilla
3 T agave nectar
2 T orange juice concentrate
1 tray ice (unecessary if you use frozen strawberries)
Just enough water to blend

You can use stevia to sweeten this instead of agave if you don't want the extra calories.

And in Simone's I added 1/3 cup cashews to make it thicker and creamier (trying to fatten up my skinny girl!). My Blendtec blends it perfectly smooth, but if you don't have a powerful blender, I would omit them.

We poured some of the smoothie into our popsicle molds. The kids loved having popsicles for breakfast this morning and after school.

Here is my happy girl with her popsicle. The push up was too difficult for her little hands, so we used our other molds.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Healthy Sack Lunch Ideas!

With my kids starting school tomorrow, I thought it would be great to get some ideas saved for future reference here. This year, Elise has informed me that she doesn’t want to eat sugar for the whole school year in exchange for money to buy clothes. (Score! I have to buy them clothes anyway, so this is somewhat of a freebie for me!) So all of these ideas will be sugar-free.

I have a little cooler that I bring with me in the car when my kids have gymnastics. I pack it with fruit, cheese, crackers, nuts, etc and take the kids that are waiting with me to the park for a picnic so we don’t have to do a fast food run.


First things first, having the right storage is a big help. Last year, my friends were talking about food jars. Something I’d never heard of. I was so happy to fork out the $12 or whatever it cost (I remember it being somewhat pricey at Target by the coolers and thermos stuff). It has totally saved me from fixing sandwiches every single day. And with the Great Harvest bread that we like at $5 a loaf, I've definitely saved money with this little investment.

This is what the food jar looks like:

I pop in some leftovers in the microwave when I am fixing her lunch, then stick it in the food jar. At lunchtime, it is still nice and hot. I use the food jar for soup (which my kids absolutely love), and for cold items like frozen berries and yogurt.

The other items I love are the 1/3 cup sized gladware containers. Often they have them in the checkout aisle at Wal-mart on the side by the hand sanitizers, Kleenex and Carmex. It is just the perfect size for applesauce, cottage cheese, yogurt, salad dressing, dips, peanut butter for dipping apples, hummus, oil and vinegar, strawberries, kiwi, grapes, blueberries etc. I love that they don’t leak! Elise loves oil and vinegar to dip her bread into. So I can just pour a bit into these, and it fits great.

I also bought some partitioned containers for making our own lunchables. They look like this:

I use them with wasa crackers. My kids will eat those, some people think they taste like cardboard. I am a big fan though! I love them. And they are very low calorie and whole grain.

I use the shallow sandwich sized containers for salads. Elise just started liking salad. She loves Ceasar salad, so we’ll be making those a lot I think.

Here is Jared's lunchbox from Costco. The girls like their cute ones best, but this one is highly functional, and Elise will just have to use it until hers comes:

Some ideas of things to pack--Leftovers are definitely the quickest thing to pop into the food jar:

• Soups
• Enchiladas
• Pasta
• Chicken Ceasar salad (dressing separate so it doesn’t get wilted)
• Chili
• Rice, corn and Beans bowl—salsa, avocado, cheese
• Sweet Potatoes

Other main events:

• Turkey sandwich with cheese avocado and tomato
• Peanut butter and honey sandwich
• Chicken tacos—I put cabbage in my tacos to keep them more crunchy, and include a lime wedge and some pico de gallo or salsa.
• Turkey Wrap, cheese, salsa, avocado and wrap tightly!
• Homemade lunchables (with good meat and crackers in sectioned container)
• Pita pocket sandwich

We also have some school lunch staples for when we are crunched for time. These include things that can just be tossed into the bag and I buy them all from Costco:

• Applesauce cups--make sure they don't have corn syrup and sugar
• String Cheese
• Fruit Leathers--we like the 100% fruit Stretch Island brand
• Dried apples and other fruits
• 100% juice Capri suns—we freeze these and use them when we want to keep something cold
• Mini waters from Costco—half the size of the tall ones, great frozen also since they thaw by lunchtime
• Baby carrots individually wrapped
• Laughing cow cheese wedges

Fruits my kids love at school: (can dip with yogurt or peanut butter)

• Frozen berries with plain yogurt and agave nectar
• Kiwi
• Mango
• peaches
• Strawberries
• Grapes
• Oranges
• Apple slices (love to dip in Adam’s peanut butter)
• Fresh pineapple
• Thread on a caramel apple stick for fun

Veggies: (can dip with hummus or ranch)

• Cucumbers
• Carrots
• Celery
• Bell Peppers (Monet’s favorite!)
• Edamame (come in small individual packages from Costco in the frozen section)

Just a little tip about the hummus, I don't eat THAT much hummus. So I buy the one from Costco, put it in the smaller 1/3 cup sized containers and freeze it. Then I have just enough for when I am craving it, but don't waste the rest. We do the same thing with the Pesto from Costco.

Other Stuff:

• Popcorn using the microwave in a brown bag method and adding a little salt and butter
• Trailmix—I make my own mix from the bulk bins--shredded unsweetened coconut, raisins, dates, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews
• Dark chocolate square to dip in peanut butter
• Hard cooked egg with salt
• Baked tortilla chips with cottage cheese—these baked chips are hard to find these days. It looks like Tostitos doesn’t carry theirs anymore, but you can always throw some corn tortillas into the oven and bake them for a few minutes to make your own.
• Pickles and “banana peppers” those little sandwich peppers, my kids love them!
• Box of Raisins

Fun Stuff:

• Notes for kids with a riddle or a joke—great tip from restaurants. Make it fun! My girls LOVE telling jokes right now. Especially Monet.
• Stickers, Mad Libs, Crossword Puzzles, Word Finds, and Mazes

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Book Review: The Antioxidant Miracle

The Antioxidant Miracle
by Lester Packer, PH.D.

I found this book on my husbands bookshelf and thought I'd read it while waiting for my girls at their gymnastics lessons.

I loved it! It was great for me to understand WHY we are told to eat all the "colors of the rainbow." It explained the many different kinds of antioxidants and how they work together to protect our body from harmful free radicals. Reading this book made me want to eat better. I really find that reading about health and nutrition is such a great motivator for me.

The author is the expert in antioxidant research, and cites lots of interesting studies.

Friday, May 9, 2008

New Recipes Coming Soon!

Wow, the time got away from me. I've been taking pictures and trying out new recipes--and not sharing them. So here are some of the ones that I'll be posting this weekend:

Cheddar Broccoli Soup (healthy version made with carrots and a little cheese--my kids love it)
Tomatillo Soup (one of my favorites from our ward cookbook)
Green Chicken Enchiladas
Dairy Free Chocolate Coconut Smoothies (with real young coconuts and cacao nibs)
Mom's Avocado Salad
Hawaiian Haystacks
Ashlee's yummy oatmeal
Bekah's breakfast omlette with microgreens
Loaded Pizza on whole wheat crust

Fruit Baby Carriage

We had a baby shower at my house and I'd mentioned that I wanted to do something fun and festive with fruit. Turns out my friend had a picture of a cute shower idea.

So this is how it turned out! It was fun--my kids thought it was so cool. Kinda like pumpkin carving but with a watermelon.

I have some good friends that are awesome at decorating cakes. But I can't have that much sugar around or I will eat nonstop. So--fruit carving is a great alternative! Fills that need for creativity.
I love those fruit flowers on skewers too. I'd love to do those for Easter, Mother's Day or the Fourth of July.

I love my Blendtec Blender!

So, I am in love with my blender. I was trying out a new recipe yesterday for a whole wheat pizza crust. I want to find a good one, and let's face it, a lot of whole wheat pizza crusts taste horrible.

So, I found a recipe that uses soft white wheat and hard white wheat. I have both of those! In my food storage, and they are in giant 45 lb buckets that have never been opened. So I actually opened one up, put a couple of cups in my BLENDER and made flour! It was so cool. I was so excited. Then, my recipe called for cornmeal. But I don't have cornmeal I thought to myself. Then I remembered that I do have a huge thing of popcorn. So I put the popcorn kernals in the blender, and voila! Cornmeal.

I own a Blendtec. I have absolutely loved it. My mom bought a Vitamix and a Blendtec at Costco after Simone was born as a "baby gift." She likes to give me "baby gifts" that will encourage healthy eating. We'd burned through about five of the Costco Oster blenders in the last two years with all of our smoothies. But I could never bring myself to spend $400 on a blender. So she bought it for me. I have absolutely loved it. I tried the Vitamix first, but didn't love how the lid was hard to put on. My mom preferred it over the Blendtec, and I preferred the Blendtec. I loved how it fit under the counter.

I can make nutmilks--no grit at all. Soups, sauces, smoothies, grinds grains, etc. I put whole flaxseeds in my smoothies instead of the ground flax meal, and it grinds it up really nicely. I rarely use flour in my cooking, so it is hard for me to buy whole wheat flour. It just gets old and rancid too quickly. So this is a great little solution.

I didn't know what I was missing before.

The pizza dough turned out pretty good, not incredible. I love chewy crusts--so I've yet to figure that one out. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fun with Fruit--Fresh Fruit Cake

This is great for those who have to limit sugar. I made one of these for one of Elise's birthday parties and honestly it was the first time the kids have actually eaten the cake. Maybe that says something about my baking skills!

So this isn't very pretty, I threw it together in just a few minutes and didn't cut my pineapple logs very squarely. But it was yummy and Miles enjoyed it! You could do tons of cool artsy flowers out of fruit.

I cut the pineapple in giant slices around the core. It would be neat if I had a pineapple corer and could do scallops, but I don't.

Anyway, then I used the giant pineapple slabs and cut those into about three to four inch logs. Stacked them like bricks, and inserted toothpicks vertically and pressed them down until they pierced the bottom layer and stuck out enough to hold the top too. Then I just filled the ring with strawberries and blackberries.

Miles was very excited and thought it was his fourth birthday. "Oh, my BIRTHDAY cake, we need fire!" So I put in some candles with the bottoms that have a pick on them, and he had fun eating the "cake" and blowing out candles.

Microwave Popcorn

My kids really love popcorn, especially with movies. The popcorn is especially yummy with orange julius drinks.

Here is a very easy way to make popcorn. It is inexpensive, and doesn't have all the junk in it that regular microwaved popcorn has.

You take a paper lunch sack, put 1/4 cup popcorn kernals in it, fold it over a couple of times and pop for 1:45 seconds. I just hit the popcorn button on the microwave and take it out 15 seconds early--but the time may vary depending on your microwave.

We melt 2 T butter and put sea salt on it too. It is yummy!
The orange julius drinks are easy too, just orange juice concentrate with 1 part concentrate, 2 parts water, 1 part ice. Vanilla to taste--depends on how much you are making obviously and our blender is high capacity. We sometimes add agave nectar, but it doesn't really need it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beans 101

Beans are full of protein, fiber and antioxidants. And they are cheap! You can make 12 cups of heatlhy filling food for about $1--even cheaper when you buy in bulk. No wonder people around the world are eating legumes as a staple of their diet. So if you are trying to eat healthy, and not blow your budget, legumes are a really great resource.

I love black beans. I learned to appreciate them on my Mexican Adventures. So when I went away to college, and was donating plasma to buy groceries, I bought some, and tried cooking them. I soaked the beans all night. Then I cooked them all day. It was a pain. I don't like things that take all day to cook. Mostly because I don't think that far ahead when deciding what to have for dinner.

So I learned a quick way to cook black beans. It takes 1 hr 45 minutes from start to finish. Not bad. I make a big batch of black beans, and I freeze a bunch. Cheaper than the canned beans, and they are not slimy. Plus they have the yummy spices.

Generally, I don't measure anything when I cook beans. I just throw a bunch of beans in a bunch of water and I bring it all to a boil. But, I know that it drives some people crazy not to have exact measurements. So I measured yesterday.

1--4 cups of black beans, add water to cover the beans by about 4 inches (I like to have LOTS of water when I am cooking beans, because nothing stinks as bad as burned beans, except maybe burned broccoli.)

2--Bring to a boil, then boil for 15 minutes

3--Drain the water and rinse the beans. I do this because a friend told me it helps reduce gas. :)
Just an FYI, your body produces an enzyme to digest fiber, and when you start eating a lot more fiber, your body needs a little time to start producing that enzyme. So the result is gas. But it shouldn't take long for your body to adjust the enzyme production.

4--Add lots more water--I probably cover the beans by about 8 inches of water. Bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until beans are splitting, or as soft as you'd like. It took about an hour and 15 minutes for mine.

5--Drain the water--I leave some of the water. I drain to below the beanline though. If you want a bean soup, just drain less water out. Take one or two cups of beans out, blend it up in the blender, then put it back in the beans for a creamy texture.

1 T salt
2 T cumin
1 T ground chili powder

7--Then I mix it all up again, let it stand for about an hour until cool. Then I divide it into containers for freezing and eating.

4 cups dry beans makes about 12 cups cooked beans. 1 cup cooked beans contains 227 calories, 15 g fiber, 15 g protein, 1 g fat.

My kids LOVE beans. It is an especially easy finger food for young babies. We call Simone "beaner" cause she goes crazy when she sees them, and it is pretty cute to see her covered in them. Black beans are nice and soft and small enough not to be a choking hazard.

There are lots of different types of beans. Here are a few that I have experience withand keep on hand:

Adzuki beans are very small red beans, and they have a great antioxidant content. Adzuki beans are used a lot in Asia. If you've had bean dessert, it was probably made with Adzuki beans.
Black beans are also high in antioxidants. These are used a lot in Latin American Cuisine.
Kidney beans are a great finger food. My sister opens a can of them, rinses the beans of the slime, then puts them in a baggy and her dairy allergic son eats them as a snack. They are great on salads!
Mung beans are small green beans that are easy to sprout.
Pinto beans are common in mexican food and are what refried beans are generally made of. They are also used to make baked beans.
Great Northern beans are white beans and are delicious in soups and can be ground into flour to use as a thickener. I have a delicious cream of broccoli soup recipe with ground great northern beans.

Beans are also great for food storage. They last a long time. Costco has big bags of Pinto beans for about $12. 330 servings in those bags comes out to about 3.5 cents per cup. That is as cheap as it gets!

I love to put about a cup of beans in a bowl and add cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cilantro, onion and lime. Hmm. Very quick and tasty. You can put them in burritos. Blend it into a dip or spread. Add beans to your quesadillas for more nutrition and fewer calories.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Greek Salad (Pasta Optional)

I love this salad! It is one of my favorites. Very light, fresh and lots of flavor. I use this Athenos dressing, but there are lots of other great homemade greek dressing recipes that are wonderful with lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs.

The ingredients are:

2 chicken breasts grilled with lemon pepper and sliced
4 cups spinach
2 English cucumbers (no peeling necessary)
3 tomatoes
a few slices of onions
roughly 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, 28 to be exact! (also from Costco)
roughly 1 cup artichoke hearts, or 12 (the marinated ones from Costco)
1/3 cup Athenos Greek Dressing with Feta cheese (Wal-mart)
Pasta optional--not included in servings, calorie and nutrition info.

If you need a good pasta salad, you can add pasta to it. I put the pasta in for my kids, but I like it better without. I do not recommend the brand that is pictured--Hodgson Mill--I think it tastes terrible. But there are other great whole wheat pastas out there. Wal Mart has one that is better than this stuff and it is really cheap. Its called Heartland.

First, we grilled the chicken on our little indoor grill then sliced it. We chopped the onions, tomatoes and cucumbers in a bowl, put everything else in a bowl and mixed it up. It was very quick and easy. I cooked the pasta separately and added it to the kids servings.

Without the pasta, this makes six large servings.

Each serving contains:
208 calories
12 g fat
11.5 g protein
4.2 g fiber

Chicken Vegetable Curry

I loved this recipe. I crave curry, and have never figured out all the spices and ingredients to make it. A few weeks ago we went to dinner at my friend Ashley's house and she made a curry with just a simmer sauce. I was at Wild Oats and saw this one, and thought I'd give it a try. It was really tasty. It wasn't tooy spicy or hot either, so my kids could eat it. Surprisingly, they liked it pretty well. Although Elise or Jared don't eat the bell peppers, they can pick them out. The sauce has a hint of coconut, which I love.

Here are the ingredients:

2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks and sauteed.

1.5 jars of Seeds of Change Simmer Sauce that I buy from Wild Oats (Good Earth will order it in if you request it--I just went to Wild Oats and stocked up).

You can use all kinds of different vegetables: carrots, summer squash, celery, etc. I used what we had on hand: broccoli, sweet peppers (these are just the mini peppers that taste like bell peppers from Costco--they are not hot), onion (only about 1/3 of the onion), sugar snap peas. I ended up doubling the broccoli and peas from what is pictured, because they shrink so much.

I cooked the chicken first, added sauce, then added all the veggies totally raw.

I normally like my broccoli just bright green, still slightly crisp--but I added some water to the sauce to help the veggies steam and needed to let it thicken up. So if you add any water to the sauce, don't add more than a couple tablespoons. It is thin enough without it. This sauce is excellent, and the ingredients are really good.

It was a very fast meal, probably only took 20 minutes. You can also omit the chicken and serve it over brown rice.

The recipe as listed makes four large servings. This was enough for my family of six, but my kids eat smaller portions. The picture above is of the recipe doubled. I like to have leftovers.

Each servings contains:
205 Calories
6 g fat
15 g protein
3.5 g fiber

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Philosophy on Family Nutrition

Last year, we ate out a lot. I was on the go all the time, and we'd often skip meals, then stop at fast food when we were ravenously hungry and wanting something immediately. It was a stressful thing for me. I know better than to feed my kids and myself that way. But things were hectic and healthy eating wasn't a priority. At 8 months postpartum, I weighed more than I did at 6 weeks postpartum. I knew that it was the way I was eating.

Changing my habits wasn't easy. It took some time. I was frustrated because before getting pregnant, we'd been eating better than we ever had and I felt great. I think Jared managed to go about six months of the year with only having sugar once or twice. He was eating so well, and it was really helping me to share in his enthusiasm and rock solid willpower. During my pregnancy, I was busy with finishing up my degree, and my focus was not on health. But I thought as soon as the baby came, I'd get back into it easily. It didn't happen that way. I got discouraged when I'd fail (eat fast food and other junk) then I'd have these feelings of not being able to do it. I wasn't strong enough.

The first step in getting back to where I want to be (still not there yet, but closer!) was not expecting perfection of myself. If I ate a little bag of chips one day, it didn't mean the whole day was ruined. I learned to give myself a break. I was counting calories, and getting in more exercise, and that helped me to get through the feelings of failure. As I logged my food, I realized I could be doing so much better. I wanted to see more healthy, fresh foods on my food logs. I was seeing progress, and I wanted to get there faster. I wanted to feel healthy like I did before.

Over the last few months, I've had some setbacks, but it has been pretty steady progress toward my goal. I've cut out fast food completely, and don't really crave it anymore. Thank goodness! I try to pack stuff in my little cooler if I am going to be out and running around. I have stuff for the kids. We keep water bottles in the car (not good in summer, but it has been cold here) so we never stop just to get a drink and end up with junk food.

Last week was a big setback! I was pretty emotional one day, and for me, being emotional means I eat. And if there is bad food in the house, I eat it. Because those are the moments when I just don't care about food.

But this week we are back! We purged the house of the Easter candy remnants. And we are ready to eat well again.

All this background info is to help you understand my food philosophy. I feel like feeding our kids healthy food is every bit as important as buckling them into their car seats or monitoring their media.

Over 15% of children from ages 5 to 19 are overweight. The risk of a child becoming obese is one in three. And the risks of being obese as a child and an adult are enormous. Obese individuals have much higher risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All things that are prevalent in my family.

As a mom, I want to do everything possible to try to prevent those tragic diseases from hurting my family. We can't prevent everything, but healthy eating makes a huge difference in our quality of life. I feel a personal responsibility to be a gatekeeper regarding the kinds of foods that enter our home, and the choices that are offered here. I don't want my kids to have to choose between Captain Crunch and oatmeal--I know they don't know enough at this young age to make wise food choices regularly. Heck, I don't know if I would choose oatmeal if Captain Crunch was right there in the pantry. I feel I am also responsible to teach my kids good nutrition through example. To help them to like nutritious food, and to help them see where the good food choices lead, and where the not so good food choices lead.

I was watching the Biggest Loser a few weeks ago and was really validated by one of the major points of that particular episode. Jay and Mark went home to visit their families. The families had all kinds of junk food around which the children were consuming. Both of the dads were visibly upset to see the types of foods that were standard practice around their homes. They had experienced what it was like to be overweight, and how difficult it was to lose it, and they wanted better for their kids. They vowed to change the way their families ate. They saw what would happen to their children in the future if they were not taught good nutrition.

I really liked that episode, because I think it sheds light on how parents can influence their families for the better, and how kids need direction and support just as adults do. I am a firm believer that a healthy diet is important for the whole family, not just the moms, dads, or whomever is trying to lose weight. I believe that feeding the kids junk foods while the parents eat healthy sends the message to kids that eating healthy is all about weight control. They can eat all the hot dogs, mac and cheese or fruit snacks they want, because they are not overweight.

I know that as my kids grown older, they will make their own choices and decide how to feed their families. I hope that my influence will direct them and help them to remain healthy throughout their lives.

My mom was raised in a home where the smell of a cake baking got her out of bed in the morning. My sweet, sweet grandma loved to have treats! My mom really didn't have much healthy food at home. It was hard for her to be a chubby kid, and she decided to change. She learned all she could about healthy eating, and has raised all of her children to have a good appreciation for healthy foods. She'd often praise me for eating a chunk of cabbage as a snack when I was a kid. Growing up, there weren't many tastier options! We had healthy food, or healthy food. If there were something more appealing, I am sure I would have picked that instead. I know that her decision to change has affected generations. My kids are healthier because she changed. I appreciate that, and I hope that I can continue to teach my kids so that we can all have a better life.

Walnut Chicken Salad

This is another version of a salad I loved from Real Foods Market in Orem. It was so delicious, I tried it out at home. My pictures are too dark this time. Sorry!

My version contains:

2 cups grapes cut in half
4 stalks celery sliced
2 large cups cooked diced chicken (about eight chicken tenders)
3/4 cup of yogurt ranch dressing
1/4 cup walnuts broken into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Yogurt Ranch Dressing:
1 1/4 cups yogurt
1/3 cup milk
1 Hidden Valley Ranch dressing packet

You will have about a cup of dressing left over.

Makes 6 1 cup servings. Each serving has 166 calories, 19 g protein, 1.5 grams fiber and 4 grams fat.

I roughly doubled the grapes and chicken from what is pictured. I found that when I put it all together, I wanted more chicken and grapes. I also added walnuts. I love the ranch dressing made with yogurt.

This Straus yogurt is my favorite! It is so creamy, the texture is delicious. I was buying other brands like Dannon, etc and we pretty much never finished the cartons. They were nonfat, which I am sure contributed to me not liking the flavor. But this stuff tastes really great. My kids love it over mixed berries with agave nectar or honey. When I use it in recipes, I feel like I am getting something yummy, not a nonfat diet food.

Also, this is great for pita pockets or sandwiches. I like it plain too. These are the pitas I've been buying from Wal-Mart. They are sold in the Deli section in front of the sandwich meats. They are pretty good, cheap, and the ingredients are not too long:

Fiesta Salad

This recipe is very simple, filling and low calorie. There are lots of variations too. You could substitute tomatoes for the peppers. Avocadoes would be wonderful too. I actually bought this salad at Real Foods Market the other day and went home to try it on my own because it was so tasty! I love bell peppers, and so do Miles and Monet, but Elise and Jared would have preferred it with tomatoes instead. The picture above is of the recipe doubled.

Here are the ingredients:

1 can of Kidney Beans

1 cup rice

1 cup corn

small amount of green onions


2 bell peppers diced

Taco seasoning. I use the kind pictures that Vita Mix sells at Costco when they do their demonstrations. You could use regular taco seasoning.

Juice from 1 lime

This makes 5-6 1 cup servings.
Each serving is 127 calories, 5.5 grams protein, 6 grams of fiber and 0 g fat.
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