If you love creamy dishes, this one gives you what you want- sans guilt! It comes from Ellie Krieger's latest cookbook, The Comfort Food Fix. If you make it at home, snap a photo and I'll post it on this blog! Enjoy.

Fettuccine Alfredo, with its ribbons of pasta coated in a luxurious cheese sauce, is the very definition of decadent comfort. This recipe is all that redefined. Zucchini ribbons mingle harmoniously with the noodles, allowing a big serving, healthfully. The sauce is made creamy with thickened milk but kept full flavored with plenty of real, fresh grated cheese.

2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 pieces thinly sliced skinless boneless chicken breast cutlets (1 pound total)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces fettuccine pasta, preferably whole wheat

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup cold low-fat (1%) milk

1/2 cup evaporated skim milk (not condensed milk)

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Slice the ends off the zucchini and discard. Using a mandoline or carefully with a sharp knife, slice the zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices. Stack the slices and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini ribbons, cover, stirring occasionally, and cook until the zucchini is just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper and cook until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pasta pot.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the flour and low-fat milk, stirring until the flour is dissolved. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the milk-flour mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the evaporated skim milk, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Add 1 cup of the sauce, the zucchini, and 3 tablespoons of the parsley to the pasta in the pot and toss to combine. Add a little of the reserved pasta water as necessary to loosen the sauce.

To serve, place 2 cups of the pasta mixture on each plate. Top with a piece of chicken. Drizzle with the remaining sauce and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Serving size: 2 cups of pasta mixture and 1 piece of chicken breast

Per Serving: Calories 660; Total Fat 20 g (Sat Fat 5 g, Mono Fat 9.2 g, Poly Fat 1.7 g); Protein 49 g; Carb 79 g; Fiber 11 g; Cholesterol 90 mg; Sodium 880 mg

Excellent source of Calcium, Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Riboflavin, Selenium, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Zinc

Good source of Iodine, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D

Source: Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy by Ellie Krieger, New York Times Bestselling author and host of Healthy Appetite (which airs on the Cooking Channel).

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The two recipes below come from the brand-spanking new enticing cookbook The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook: Foods to Fill You Up, Not Out by Robyn Webb. But make no mistake, these recipes are for anyone--not just those with diabetes--who loves sweet potatoes and loves good food.

SWEET POTATO AND SQUASH MASH

6 servings/serving size: ½ cup

preparation time: 10 minutes

cook time: 30 minutes

A perfect fall side dish incorporating the best of autumn squashes. The banana gives it a slight dessert like panache. This recipe was developed by Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD, who loves this so much she sneaks it onto the holiday table as well.

INGREDIENTS

2 large sweet potatoes

½ medium butternut squash

1 ripe large banana

2 tablespoons brown sugar

½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

PREPARATION

1. Peel the sweet potato and cut into medium chunks. Discard any seeds from the butternut squash.  Peel the squash and cut into medium chunks. Add the sweet potatoes and butternut squash to a large pot. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Gently boil the potatoes and squash for about 30 minutes until fork tender.

2,. Drain the squash and potatoes and add to a large bowl. Add the banana and mash with a potato masher until a creamy, yet lumpy texture has developed.

3. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well.

SPICED SWEET POTATO WEDGES

6 servings/serving size: ½ medium sweet potato

preparation time: 25 minutes

cook time: 30 minutes

My tester for this recipe kept repeating over and over again that this was such a good substitute for regular fries. I couldn’t agree more. Everyone loves to munch on fries and these have more vitamin A, less fat and calories than a regular fry could hope to have. With a beautiful burnt orange color and deep spiced aromas released when a wedge was cut in half makes these really addictive, so keep your portion under control, but do enjoy.

INGREDIENTS

6 medium sweet potatoes

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise into sixths. Combine the potatoes and the oil in a large bowl and toss well. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Add the spice mixture to the potatoes and toss again.

3. Arrange the potatoes cut side down in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the wedges over and bake 20 more minutes until tender.

Source: The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook: Foods to Fill You Up, Not Out, by Robyn Webb, MS.

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The author used one of my recipes in her book, and I am mentioned in the acknowledgments section.

How do you like to eat sweet potatoes? Please share your recipe below.

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Makes 12 Cupcakes

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1¼ cups finely grated carrots (about 8 ounces)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces light cream cheese

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1.    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

2.    Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat at medium speed  until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

3.    In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. At low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until just combined.

4.    Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely before frosting.

5.    To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and sugar at low speed until blended. Raise the speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated and continue to beat until creamy. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes and garnish as desired with a jelly bean, an M&M, sprinkles or nothing at all!

Tip: For a non cream cheese based frosting, whisk together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1½ tablespoons lemon juice or 1% lowfat milk.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cupcake): 270 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated, 0.9g omega-3), 170mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 4g protein, 40% vitamin A

Source: No Whine with Dinner by Liz Weiss, MS, RD & Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, The Meal Makeover Moms.

What's your favorite cupcake recipe? Please share it below.

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On October 6, 2011, the Prevention Institute--a national non-profit organization committed to preventing illness, fostering health and building momentum for community prevention--launched a new video called We're Not Buying It. It sheds light on the many negative health effects food marketing has on vulnerable children, and serves as a call to action for parents, families and health advocates to ask President Obama to support strong voluntary guidelines for food marketing that are currently be considered by the government. And just a few days ago I reviewed a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics for msnbc.com. The study suggested food commercials had more of an impact on young kids' food choices than parental input.

As stated on the Prevention Institute's web site,

"From soda companies using school marketing campaigns disguised as charities, to food package labeling that misleads parents, We’re Not Buying It takes just two minutes to debunk industry claims that they’re trying to be part of the solution in the fight for kids’ health. Parents alone simply can’t compete with the $2 billion a year the food and beverage industry spends selling kids foods that are laden in sugar, salt and fat, the video reveals."


The voluntary federal guidelines that are currently being considered were developed by the Interagency Working Group, a coalition of nutrition and media experts from federal agencies, ask companies not to advertise their most unhealthy foods to kids. And only time will tell if the voluntary guidelines will take hold or instead, be trumped by those opposed to such guidelines including Congressman Lee Terry. Stay tuned for results from congressional testimony on this topic set to take place on Wednesday, October 12th.

You can read more about the push to have government support voluntary marketing guidelines by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest and by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

What say you? Should food companies need to follow certain guidelines when marketing foods and beverages, or is it simply up to parents to help their kids ignore the ads, resist temptation, and make more healthful food decisions? Please Share your thoughts below.

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Cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness of pumpkin, so you don’t

need much added sugar.

Makes 1 serving.

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch ground cinnamon

2 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend. Pour into

a tall glass and drink immediately.

Per serving: 106 calories; 22 grams carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber; 0 grams

fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 5 grams protein; 59 milligrams sodium;

2 milligrams cholesterol; 190 milligrams calcium.

Source: MyPlate for Moms: How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.

What's your favorite smoothie? Do share!

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Pumpkin and raisins are brimming with good nutrition in this twist

on classic pancakes. Each serving provides two-thirds of the calcium

in a glass of milk.

Makes 6 servings (3 pancakes per serving).

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

12⁄3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup low-fat (1%) milk

2 tablespoons trans fat–free tub margarine, melted

1 large egg

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup California raisins

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl,

combine 1 tablespoon of sugar with the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, margarine, egg, pumpkin, raisins, and

yogurt-sugar mixture, stirring well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry

ingredients in the large bowl. Stir until batter is moist and free of lumps.

Lightly coat a griddle or a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat

to low to medium heat. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the batter onto

the hot griddle. Cook until the bubbles begin to burst, then flip and

cook until golden brown.

Per serving: 302 calories; 57 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber;

4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 11 grams protein; 305 milligrams

sodium; 42 milligrams

Source: MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.

Please share your favorite pancake recipe, or way to eat pancakes!

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Food. It's not only fuel, but some foods can also boost your immune system and help your body defend itself against the common cold and so much more. In the new book, The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods. you'll not only find delicious recipes, but you'll learn how to use food to optimize your health from the outside in. The book, divided up into 5 parts, teaches you:

*how your diet stacks up;

*how to evolve your eating;

*how to enjoy family meals and fight childhood obesity;

*all about vegetables, fruits, protein foods, grains, and fats;

*how to live with food allergies;

*how to spice up your health; and

*how to eat and drink to fight disease and achieve optimal health

The book packs in tons of science-based yet practical advice you can use to become a more mindful eater in a world where mindless eating runs rampant. It also includes recipes that highlight foods that may help you fight a cold or a headache, help you sleep, or even manage diabetes.

Who knew "health" food could taste so good? Here are two delicious, easy-to-prep recipes worth trying:

Berry Melon Yogurt Parfaits

 

Jammed with powerful immune boosting power, these parfaits make a delicious breakfast, brunch, or after-dinner dessert. Feel free to substitute any fresh berry or use a combination of berries for colorful treat.

Yield: 4 parfaits; Serving size: 1 parfait; Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 45 minutes

Each serving has:

366 calories

11 g total fat

1 g saturated fat

0 g trans fat

2 mg cholesterol

168 mg sodium

32 g carbohydrates

5 g Fiber

4 g sugars

9 g protein

14 percent iron

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

[1/4] cup raisins

2 TB. slivered almonds

1 TB. Flax seeds, ground

1 TB. vegetable oil

1 TB. agave nectar

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 cups low-fat yogurt, plain

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup watermelon, chopped

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine oats, raisins, almonds, and flax seeds.

2.   In a small bowl mix together oil, agave nectar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Drizzle into the oat mixture and stir together.

3.   Spread oat mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven and let cool.

4.   For the parfaits, use long fluted dessert glasses. Layer a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of berries, watermelon, and granola. Repeat until filled to the top. Serve chilled.

Mozzarella Caprese Bites

These are a bite-size, tasty, and a healthful start to a party or simple dinner.

Yield: 12 toasts; Serving size: 3 toasts; Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: None

Each serving has:

200 calories

10 g total fat

5 g saturated fat

0 g trans fat

18 mg cholesterol

304 mg sodium

16 g carbohydrates

2 g fiber

2 g sugars

11 g protein

5 percent iron

Ingredients:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, diced

2 TB. fresh basil, chopped

2 TB. balsamic vinegar

1 TB. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 whole grain toast rounds or pita chips

Directions:

1.   In a large bowl gently toss together cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2.   Dollop a tablespoon of the mixture onto each of the toast rounds and serve.

Source: The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods (Alpha Books/Penguin, July 2011) by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN with Jovanka JoAnn Miloivojevic.

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Kale and Brussels sprouts share a link--they're both part of the cruciferous, or cabbage, vegetable family. These vegetables not only pack in a lot of flavor, water (to fill you up), and valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, but eating them may protect you against some cancers. Here are two delicious recipes with these nutritional darlings from No Whine With Dinner by the Meal Makeover Moms.

 

Crispy Kale Chips

Makes 4 Servings

1 big bunch kale

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon smoked paprika (or more)

½ teaspoon ginger powder (or more)

1 pinch chili powder, optional

Sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Remove the stems and woody ribbing from the tender leaves of the kale. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry.

2. Add the olive oil to a large bowl. Whisk in the paprika and ginger. Add the chili powder as desired. Add the kale leaves to the oil and toss with your hands, coating each leaf, front and back.

3. Lay the kale out on a parchment paper–covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle with the salt. Wash your hands so you don't rub chili powder into your eyes!

4. Working in batches, bake in the oven, until the chips are flat and crisp. (It took about 17 minutes for mine, although the recipe that inspired it online said 33 minutes.)

5. Remove with a spatula and let cool.  Serve them to someone who will try one and say, "Kale chips?!?" as they bite into one. In about a minute, they'll come back for 10 more.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  100 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated, 0.2g omega-3), 50mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 350% vitamin A, 230% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 10% iron

 

 

Sweeeeetest Brussels Sprouts

Makes 4 Servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts

2 slices nitrite-free bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide pieces

½ small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (½ cup)

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 generous pinch freshly ground black pepper

1.  Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts using a sharp knife. Peel off the loose leaves around the stems and slice each sprout in half lengthwise.

2.  Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts, bring the water back to a low boil, and cook, uncovered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

3.  While the sprouts are cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened, about 7 minutes.

4. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts, maple syrup, salt, and pepper and toss until the vegetables are coated.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 15 halves):  80 calories, 2g fat (0.5g saturated), 190mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g protein, 15% vitamin A, 150% vitamin C

Source: NO WHINE WITH DINNER: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011).

What are your favorite cruciferous vegetables, and how do you like to prepare them?

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Ahhh, exercise. Easier said than done, right? I personally love to do it. My favorite activities? Taking a long walk or hike outside solo (listening to music) or with a friend, taking a class like tap dancing or Zumba, or doing some sort of weight training (think lunges, squats, and abdominal exercises). I consider exercise and being active just as important to my daily routine as brushing my teeth, and definitely feel the effects when I skip a day.

I usually plan to do some sort of formal exercise first thing in the morning. But I also try to be mindful to keep active throughout the day and walk places instead of taking a cab or public transportation. And with the exception of when I write at my desk, I try to not sit for too long of a stretch.

When work or life get in the way of my exercise, I chalk it up to one of those days, and get back on track the next day.

There are countless studies that say exercise is oh so good for our hearts and our overall health. But for me, exercise is something that I do mainly because it helps me feel better both physically and mentally. My body feels and works better when I move it more, and I have a sense of accomplishment each and every time I set and achieve an exercise goal, even if it’s a relatively small one. And I’m in complete agreement with David Katz, MD, Director and founder of Yale University's Prevention Research Center. According to Katz, “We are animals, with a native animal vitality too many of us squander!” He says exercise enables us to unleash that vitality. That it does!

Unfortunately, not everyone loves to exercise--and it make sense that if you don't enjoy something, you don't make an effort to do it. Oprah admittedly doesn’t like to exercise, but she makes herself do it because she knows how important it is.

A few days ago, a blog I wrote about the Weekly Fitness Challenge was posted on caloriecount.com. That blog and the tips below are designed to inspire and motivate you--whether you're new to exercise or have had trouble in the past getting into a regular fitness routine--to take at least one small step towards living a more fit and active life.

  • Shuffle it up! Putting 20-30 motivating songs on your ipod or phone can make exercise feel easier and be more enjoyable. Knowing you’ll have good music to listen to when you exercise will also give you something to look forward to and may inspire you to stay on target.
  • Acknowledge improvement, even if it seems small. If you walk for 20 minutes every day or every other day during the first week, and bump it up to 22 minutes the second week, pat yourself on the back! Know that any improvement is a step in the right direction.

~Tammy Lakatos Shames & Lyssie Lakatos,The Nutrition Twins®, registered dietitians and personal trainers

  • Believe in yourself. It’s easy to skip workouts or begin to get impatient when you’re looking for results. Positivity is a great motivator. Always remind yourself why you’re exercising, and that may motivate you to stay on course.
  • Have fun! Start with something you'll enjoy and have fun with it--whether its ballroom dancing, walking, or doing yoga.

~ Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, DC-based registered dietitian and health & fitness specialist, and the "mother of me time."

  • Enlist the help of a friend. People have workout partners for a reason...they keep them company and they help them stay motivated!
  • Cross Train. Vary activities to keep yourself motivated and interested. Whether you take a group class like Zumba, spinning, or pilates, or use weight and/or cardio machines, it all counts as exercise.

~Larysa Didio, certified personal trainer and fitness author

Please share your own tip for staying motivated to exercise.

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We all love salsa, and this one is a real peach--and oh so sweet for summer! This delicious dipper or topper comes from the fabulous Big Green Cookbook. Says the author, registered dietitian and culinary expert Jackie Newgent, "The velvety skin of the peach is one its loveliest attributes and it adds character to this fresh salsa. The rest of the peach adds scrumptiousness. The best time to make this salsa is in summer when peaches are at their juiciest best. And the best time to eat it is . . . well, any time you make it!"

Makes 4 servings: 1/2 cup each

Ingredients:

2 large or 3 medium peaches, pitted and diced

1 large vine-ripened tomato, diced

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Juice and zest of 1 lime, or to taste (about 2 tablespoons juice)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Directions:

Gently stir together the peaches, tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium serving bowl. Add salt. Sprinkle with some of the zest. Serve with tortilla chips or grilled fish or organic chicken.

Nutrition Facts:

Per serving: 60 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 15g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 1g protein

Little Green Cooking Tip

It’s summer! It’s time for peach picking—even if from a local market, not a tree. Pick organic ones when you can—even though they’re not always as pretty as conventionally grown peaches. Then there’s virtually no need to peel off the fuzzy skins. Use them whenever you can in recipes. And even if organic, do scrub well first.

What's your favorite summer dipper or topper?

Source: Recipe reprinted with permission from Big Green Cookbook by Jackie Newgent, RD. Follow Jackie on Twitter: @jackienewgent.com

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