Monday, 2 December 2013

it's 5 o'clock somewhere

Now that the holidays are in full swing, it gets very difficult to follow a healthy diet. There are cookies and sweets everywhere and it always seems like someone is having a holiday party.

During this time of year, trying to lose weight is next to impossible.  Rather, its best to set a goal of weight maintenance without putting on any extra pounds.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to post quick blogs about tips on how to stay healthy/keep your weight in check during the holiday season. First item on my agenda is ALCOHOL!

When it comes to drinking during the holidays, moderation along with knowing whats in your drink is key.
(Moderate consumption is 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks for men).  

Any hard alcohol such as gin, rum, whiskey, tequila or vodka will be approximately 97 calories per 1.5 oz (1 shot). If you are into mixed drinks, I recommend either using soda water, diet soda or soda water with a splash of your favorite juice (I love pineapple).

Aside from dessert wines such as port, most wines and sparkling wines will run between 118 - 129 calories per 5 oz. serving. While this is a reasonable amount of calories for 1 glass , the numbers do add up after multiple drinks so be cautious! When choosing a sparkling wine, look for the words "brut zero" or "extra brut". These bubbly drinks either have no additional sugar added (brut zero) or very minimal sugar added.

When it comes to beers, it really depends on your taste.  You could drink a couple of light beers at around 100 calories per bottle or have fewer "heavier" beers.  Many people find that they rather enjoy and savor the taste of a good beer over drinking something that tastes light and watered down. I know that's what I would prefer!  Just a note, many non-light beers can run between 150-200 calories per bottle.  One beer, however, throws everyone a curve ball.  Guinness Draught beer is only 125 calories per bottle. A win-win.

So there you have it.  Enjoy your next drink out knowing you are staying on track.  Cheers!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

MIA but now I'm back

My deepest apologies for being MIA for so long! In between cabin trips and craziness at work I've had no time to sit down and blog.

I missed it.

Now that I'm back, I wanted to share a dish that I have been making for a few years now.  It's a take on a recipe I found awhile back on the blog How Sweet It Is but I tailored it a bit to slightly lower the calories and make the whole recipe a drop quicker to make!

It's always a winner at the Thanksgiving table or at any autumn potluck meal and I always get asked for the recipe. So, here it is!

Sweet Potato Casserole with Browned Butter and Oat Crumble
Serves 6

Sweet Potato Layer 
40 oz canned yams
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup 1% milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Oat Crumble
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup mini marshmallows

*FYI: The term yams and sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably in the US.  The USDA actually requires that sweet potatoes labelled "yams" also be labelled "sweet potatoes". Either way, its the same item.

Start out with browning the butter for the sweet potato layer.  Take 2 Tbsp butter (from sweet potato layer), add to small saucepan and put over medium heat.  When the butter has melted in the pan, whisk continuously for around 3-4 minutes. You'll notice the butter start to bubble (seen below) and slowly start changing colors.  When the butter turns a light amber and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, take the butter off the heat!  Taking the butter off the heat in time is critical--those few seconds are the difference between delicious and burnt.

Take the yams and drain the liquid in the sink.  Wash the yams in a colander to remove any excess syrup.  Using a hand mixer, combine yams and the rest of the ingredients for the sweet potato layer.  Mix for 1-2 minutes on medium speed until whipped.

Place sweet potato layer in 9-inch round glassware dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, start combing ingredients for the oat crumble.  Mix together all crumble ingredients (except butter) until well incorporated. Add in softened butter, using your hands to mix until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture is crumbly.

Place the crumble around the outer edges of the sweet potato dish and place the marshmallows in the center of the casserole.  Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is a golden brown color and the marshmallows become gooey.  Just the best.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Let's Hash it Out

Ah Butternut Squash. The epitome of a perfect Fall food.  This squash is hearty, has a nice nutty flavor and it's chock full of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Butternut squash also has filling power, providing almost 3 grams of fiber per 1 cup! 

After looking through all the ways to use up an ENTIRE squash, I decided on doing my own healthier version of a hash.  I'm still not 100% sure what is the defining factor of a hash but whatever I made ended up being really delicious and semi-hash like. 

Butternut squash and sage are frequently paired together in dishes and they complement each other really well.  It's a more substantial herb and has a nice earthy flavor to it.  Also, it looks really pretty in the presentation of the dish.  

For the salty, goodness part of the dish that really makes a hash a true hash (in my mind), I decided to add in some meat--more specifically Trader Joe's Jalapeno chicken sausage.  For me, the meat makes it more of a substantial meal option but this dish can certainly be made without it.  

Another addition which I thought would be yummy is to top the whole thing with an egg. Sadly I ran out of eggs so this creation unfortunately couldn't happen. 

 Regardless, the whole thing was delicious! A very simple recipe that's healthy, flavorful and filling at the same time. Bon appetit!

Butternut Squash Hash with Sausage and Sage
(serves 4)

3 lb Butternut Squash
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large yellow onion
4 chicken sausage links of your choice
1/2 cup fresh sage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

To soften the squash to peel and cut into cubes, pierce the skin with a fork and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Be careful handling because it's hot!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  While the oven is heating up, peel and cube squash into 1 inch cubes, and chop onion coarsely.  Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Place onion and squash on baking sheet(s) making sure to not crowd the sheet. Put in for 30 minutes, toss squash and put back for another 30 minutes or until lightly browned/crispy exterior.

While the squash is in the oven, cube sausage into 1/4 inch pieces and brown on the stove top. Set aside.

Once the squash is browned, add to pan with sausage, toss in the chopped sage and add additional salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, 11 October 2013

Tastes of the World

This past weekend I went on a really interesting food tour in Jackson Heights, Queens with a few fellow dietitians.  Even though I grew up in Queens, I never really explored this neighborhood or all the amazing food that's available.

Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country and the variety of foods we tried in a few block radius was astounding.   

Our tour guide, Jeff Orlick has lived in the area for a good number of years and has a 
good deal of knowledge about the ethnic cuisine in the area. We had a variety of foods including 
Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Peruvian and Ecuadorian.    

Throughout the tour we got to talk to the chefs and learn a bit about the culture behind the dishes.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would definitely come back to the area in the future.  The food was all so flavorful and diverse. 

It's always good to try new things and be adventurous with your eating. You never know what you will end up loving!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

mini huevos rancheros

I had the idea to post this recipe after my lovely friend got me a set of ramekins as a housewarming gift (thanks Becca!) Normally I would use ramekins for a dessert--molten lava cake (my all time favorite) or maybe a fruit crisp but I wanted to try something different.

Ramekins are a great cooking vessel as they are easy to clean and are perfectly portioned. This recipe would be great for a small brunch or a solo dinner night.

This huevos rancheros recipe is fairly low-cal (around 200 calories) so it would be great to pair with some fruit or a side salad if you eat this for dinner.  The corn tortilla gives the dish such a distinct flavor and the cumin and garlic spice up the dish without all the added salt.

Recipe (1 serving)

Cooking spray
1 corn tortilla (6 inch)
1 egg
2 Tbsp black or pinto beans, cooked
Pinch of ground cumin and garlic
1 Tbsp part skim cheese (mexican, cheddar, mozzarella, your choice!)
1 Tbsp salsa

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F
2. Mix together beans, cumin and garlic
3. Spray the inside of the ramekin with cooking spray
4. Heat up the corn tortilla for 10 seconds or until pliable, spray with cooking spray and place into ramekin
5. Once tortilla is in place, put in beans, egg, and cheese (any order you wish)
6. Place ramekin(s) in the oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on how well done you like your eggs
7. Once cooked, you can eat it straight from the ramekin or plate the dish. Top with salsa and you're done!

Monday, 23 September 2013

pizza power!

As a native New Yorker, I grew up eating a lot of pizza. As I got older, however, I started to become more aware of healthy eating and my pizza intake declined.  I realized how HUGE a slice of pizza can be, how many slices I could eat in one sitting and how those calories can really add up.

Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Instead of being subjected to the unknown, it was time to make my own pizza!

Making your own pizza is super fun because you can be creative with the toppings and it's basically playing with your food! The pizza I'm showing here is a prosciutto, artichoke pizza with low-fat mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The calories are cut because I use less dough per person and the cheese is part-skim. Super simple, taste great and it's lower in calories than your traditional slice!

Toppings are ENDLESS.  For a more hearty and filling slice, add a ton more veggies-onions, mushrooms, peppers, etc. and a protein such as a lean turkey sausage or shredded chicken. For an extra kick, you can substitute a different type of sauce/spread such as pesto or barbecue sauce.  Yum!

Instead of reaching for that 2nd or 3rd slice, pair your homemade pizza which a fresh salad.  Together, it makes a very well balanced meal.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Basic Pizza (serves 4)

16 oz pizza dough
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. On a floured surface, shape pizza dough into desired shape (I made mine rectangular as it was in a baking sheet).

Place pizza with toppings into the oven, bake for approximately 10-20 minutes depending on how thin/thick the crust is.

Cut pizza into slices and serve immediately!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Eat Like A European

It was my first trip to Paris that I discovered the real beauty in food.  On just one street you could find bright and vibrant produce being sold right out of a cart, a nearby boulangerie where the smell of warm bread wafted into the street and a small storefront where a butcher served up the meat available for the day.

I loved the how each  vendor had their specialty.  Quality and taste were never compromised and shopping for an evening meal was truly a pleasure. It was later on that I studied abroad and traveled through Europe that I found most places ate this way and were much healthier than Americans. 

 A number of European countries follow what is known as the Mediterranean diet. This diet is heavily focused in plant based foods-fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.  Olive oil is the main source of fat, providing heart healthy monounsaturated fats rather than butter (a saturated fat).  Meat intake is sparse. Rather, people consume more fish and lean proteins.  

Foods in this diet are minimally processed.  There is little question of what is in a dish because foods are prepared very simply without preservatives. 

Meals in these countries are something to be celebrated. People really take time out of their day to prepare and shop for a meal and sit down with family or friends to enjoy it. The emphasis is on mindful eating which has been shown to help curb overeating and keep portions under control.

The best news, of course, is that those who follow this diet around the Mediterranean get to drink wine! In moderation of course, but a glass at dinner every night fits in perfectly to this style of living. 

So just like Michael Pollan says: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Easy Weeknight Dinner-Green Curry Soup

There are just some days when I'm not in the mood to make a big production out of dinner. I want to make a meal that is quick, healthy and with ingredients I can easily find in my pantry.  

This green curry soup meets all my requirements. It provides the flavors of a more traditional Thai curry without being heavy and calorie laden  (because it is broth based) and it can be put together in about 20 minutes.  

This dish is also fun because you can mix and match your protein and veggies to whatever is available in your kitchen!

I started out with a yellow and green squash and a green bell pepper.  For my protein I cubed a block of tofu and patted some of the water out to help the tofu absorb more of the yummy broth.

The main flavoring agent was this Thai green curry paste which is super flavorful and not too spicy!

Patiently waiting for the veggies to cook

Green Curry Soup (serves 4)

1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp green curry paste
1 cup low-fat coconut milk
4 cups low sodium broth (chicken/vegetable)
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or fish sauce
5 cups diced veggies of your choice
3 cups protein of your choice (I used tofu)

In a larger saucepan heat oil over medium heat.  Once ready, add the curry paste and stir quickly for a few seconds.  Add 2 Tbsp of coconut milk to pot and stir to combine.

Once combined, pour in rest of coconut milk and broth. This is when you can add in the fish or soy sauce as well.  Once brought up to a boil, add your veggies and keep broth at a simmer.  Depending on your veggies this can be under a minute to around 5 minutes.

If you are using a protein such as tofu or shrimp, add just a minute or so before taking off the heat. Chicken/beef would take a bit longer so that needs to be accounted for.

After the veggies and the protein are cooked, the soup is complete! If you want to make this a bit more hearty you can add some rice noodles or any pasta on hand depending how hungry you are.

It's as simply as that. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Oatmeal Obsession

Oatmeal--One of the easiest, cheapest and healthiest foods that you can make for breakfast. To be honest, my go-to breakfast food as of late is a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter. Like every. single. day.  I love it!

Oatmeal can be part of a low calorie breakfast that can keep you full until lunch.  Oatmeal contains both soluble and insoluble fiber-the soluble fiber is what can help lower cholesterol levels while the insoluble fiber expands and keeps you fuller for longer. It’s the best of both worlds.

Now I know oatmeal on its own may not be the most exciting thing to eat but the number of different toppings you can put on your breakfast makes the possibilities endless.
I decided to show off 3 very different oatmeal varieties but there are even more out there. Each oatmeal starts with 1/3 cup dry oats and 2/3 cup water. From there, toppings are the limit!

Apple Pie Oatmeal: this oatmeal reminds me of the beginning of fall. The cinnamon spice and apples are the perfect comforting foods when the temperature drops.

Cooked oats
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp chopped apple
1 tsp honey drizzled over the top

This is a more dessert-y take on oatmeal but it can definitely be eaten for breakfast (if the choice was between a doughnut and this oatmeal, pick this)! It's sweet but it's a much healthier option and very satisfying!

Chocolate Banana Oatmeal

Cooked oats
0.5 oz of your favorite dark chocolate (about one large square of chocolate)
1/2 of small banana, sliced 

Now this oatmeal takes a twist on the classically sweeter breakfast dish and turns it into a hearty and savory option for breakfast.  It eliminates the potential for added sugar in the morning and there is an egg for extra protein to keep you going in the morning! This is just one savory way of changing up your oats. Different varieties could include sauteed vegetables, meat or cheese!

Lindsay's Savory Oatmeal

Cooked oats
1 egg or egg white (cooked to your liking)
2 Tbsp low fat shredded cheese
Pinch of salt (I used truffle salt to make this dish extra special)

There are so many different and delicious ways to make oatmeal, why ever go back to that sugary packaged oatmeal again?! 

Whats YOUR favorite oatmeal to make?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Panzanella, Simply Delicious

Nothing says summer better than panzanella, a Tuscan salad made with bread and juicy tomatoes. It's a perfect dish that takes no time to put together and there is no oven required.

For me, this dish is so rustic that a recipe shouldn't even be required. Mix together some fresh vegetables, a hunk of day old bread and a simple vinaigrette and you have a beautiful and delicious salad.

For my salad for two, I cut up 1 large tomato (around 1 lb) and a medium sized yellow bell pepper. Cut into bite size pieces, around 1 inch thick (same goes for the bread)

I also decided to include some fresh basil from my patio for an additional flavor component. I took about a handful of leaves for the entire salad

My bread of choice was a kalamata olive loaf that I bought from my local bakery (Rose and Joe's in Astoria). I thought this was a great choice-the olives gave the whole salad a nice salty bite that it needed. 

After that I made a simple dressing--2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste.  

Mix everything together and you've got a beautiful salad that should be served within 30 minutes of dressing!

Quick, healthy, delicious! 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

My Favorite Snacks: 200 calories or less!

For me, there are few things better in life than a good snack.  The problem, however, is that when I’m out and about, it can be difficult to find something that's both delicious and reasonably healthy.  
I’ve done a lot of snacking in my day and I've come up with some of my fave snacks that are 200 calories or less and will keep you satisfied!


I’m a sucker for anything chocolate-y so my personal favorite is the dark chocolate nuts and sea salt but there are so many flavors to choose from! All their bars are under 200 calories except for the Nut Delight bar at 210 calories.  

Glenny’s Soy Crisps

This is the perfect snack if you are in the mood to crunch.  They come in a few sweet and savory flavors and a small bag comes out to only 140 calories! Perfect snack portions.  I find the best thing about these crisps is that since they are made with soy they contain much more protein than your regular potato chip which keeps you fuller for longer.

0% Fat Greek Yogurts

Honestly, most fat free Greek yogurts nowadays meet the criteria for a filling and healthy snack.  I’m a Chobani and Fage girl myself but there are so many new brands out there I have yet to try!  I usually eat the plain, nonfat yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts but if you are on the go even the flavored or fruit on the bottom  yogurts come in well under 200 calories. Great snack if you’re in the mood for something sweet.

Laughing Cow Light Wedges

I’ve been eating these wedge for as long as I can remember.  While I studied abroad in college in London, I consumed a whole lot of wedges on fresh tomatoes (I didn't have a kitchen, it was desperate times)! I love how these wedges come in so many different flavors and all are only 35 calories each.  These are perfect to pair with some nuts or crackers if you have them on hand.  My most loved flavors are the Queso Fresco & Chipotle and the Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil  

Starbucks Drinks

While Starbucks has a whole list of drinks under 200 calories, I prefer their drinks with the least artificial ingredients possible.  My favorite low-calorie drink is their tall iced latte with skim milk.  It has a wonderfully strong espresso flavor and it tastes so rich that I forget that the whole drink is only 70 calories. It’s super refreshing on a hot day.  Other great options include cappuccinos, iced coffees or any tea made hot or cold. Their herbal teas are very flavorful and are a total of ZERO calories.  Stick to using skim milk and minimal added sugar and you’re good to go!

Happy snacking!