Here's a delicious, healthful muffin recipe from The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook.

This modernized version of Shaker pumpkin muffins is a snap to mix and bake.

Makes 8 large muffins

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup ground flaxseed

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil, water, and vanilla. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour. Stir in the chopped walnuts, raisins, and flaxseed. Use a large spoon or scoop to fill each muffin cup almost to the brim. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when gently poked with the fingertips. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source: The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook by Maggie Green, RD.

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Here's a delicious recipe for Smoky Chili Non Carne from The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook.

For a long time I was faithful to an old Jane Brody vegetarian chili recipe. Her list of spices seemed daunting, but the chili was so full of complex flavor, I kept on making the chili. This recipe for a spice-filled chili is my adaptation of her recipe. When I make chili I’d rather build the flavor than make the chili too hot. If more heat is desired, a shake of hot red pepper sauce does the trick. The smoky flavor and a rich red color come from the smoked paprika.

Makes 10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons mild chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Generous pinch ground cloves

Generous pinch ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or Kentucky honey

3/4 cup reduced-sodium vegetable juice (one 6-ounce can)

1 1/2 cups diced fresh or canned tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chick peas, drained (one 15-ounce can)

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned red beans, drained (one 15-ounce can)

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained (one 15-ounce can)

2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

3 cups cooked brown rice

Chopped avocado for garnish

Sliced green onions for garnish

In a Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until the onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Mix in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, thyme, smoked paprika, coriander, cloves, allspice, and salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the maple syrup or honey, vegetable juice, tomatoes, chickpeas, red beans, black beans, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Serve over a portion of cooked brown rice and garnish with chopped avocado and sliced green onions.

Source: The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook by Maggie Green, RD

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We're all so busy this time of year! Between running errands, buying (or making) holiday gifts, cooking, cleaning and getting ready for some much-needed time off, many of us burn the candle at both ends. Fitting in our usual fitness routines, or making a first (or twentieth) attempt to once and for all get fit is certainly a challenge, and something many of us put off until the New Year begins. But why put off until tomorrow what we can do today? My dad always told me to never procrastinate (perhaps that's why I am such a planner--sometimes to a fault). In an effort to help myself and inspire and motivate you to get or stay moving this December, I've decided to create a December Fitness Challenge. On Twitter and on Facebook, I'll use #doitindecember to chronicle my own daily workouts and let you know whether I meet or fall short of my weekly goals. I'll also give you tips and suggest resources to help you stay motivated. You're sure to find that making even a little time to be fit will help you have more energy and be in a better mood to check off all of the 101 things on your December to do list.

So what are you waiting for?

Here are my personal goals for the month of December:

Aerobic activity: At least 5 hours of any combo of walking, running, jumping rope or dancing each week. I will also try my best to dance or take a fitness class (like spinning or tap or zumba or yoga) once a week.

Anaerobic activity: At least 2 or 3 sets of 5 upper body exercises and 5 lower body exercises twice a week AND abdominal exercises for 10 minutes at least twice a week.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

President's Challenge (it's not just for kids!)

Let's Move

Sear's Fit Studio

Weekly Fitness Challenge

Squeeze It In

Collage Video

Sparkpeople

Superkidsnutrition

What are your December fitness and activity goals? Please share them below. You can also share one of your favorite motivating resources. Be sure to Tweet (or post on Facebook) your progress with me throughout the month. I look forward to 'Doing It with You' in December!


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What do you get when you put two superfoods--strawberries and spinach--together? Taste this easy recipe from 5 Ingredients for Healthy Living Cookbook and you'll find out!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup honey

½ cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 cups fresh sliced strawberries, divided

½ tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. Black pepper

8 cups fresh baby spinach

Directions:

Combine honey, oil, mustard and 1 cup strawberries with salt and pepper in blender.  Process until smooth.  Combine spinach and remaining cup of strawberries in serving bowl and toss with dressing. Toss to evenly coat and serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings


Nutrition info per serving: 180 Calories; 1 gm Protein; 13.6 gm Fat; 11.2 gm Carbohydrate; 189 mg Sodium

Source: 5 Ingredients for Healthy Living Cookbook by The Nutrition Sisters Chere Bork, RD and Laurie Meyer, RD. 

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Are you getting enough fish in your diet? Salmon is a great source of much-needed omega 3 fatty acids, specifically  eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapaentanoic acid (DHA). These polyunsaturated fats support key functions in the brain, blood vessels, and the immune system and studies suggest they may play a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. They may also protect the eyes against macular degeneration and support visual and neurological growth in infants. But besides omega 3s, salmon also boasts other key nutrients--it's loaded with high quality protein and contains vitamin D, potassium, and calcium.

Here's a delicious recipe to help you work more fish into your diet. Aim for 2 or 3 fish meals per week (to total about 8 to 12 ounces):

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked salmon* or 15 oz can skin and bones removed

½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs

1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

¼ cup minced onion

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

Combine salmon, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to blend.

Shape into 4 patties and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat skillet with  the remaining oil over medium heat.

Add salmon and cook 5 minutes per side.

Serve on whole grain roll or salad greens with your favorite toppings.

Makes four servings.

Nutrition info per serving: 278 Calories; 25 gm Protein; 15 gm Fat; 10.7 gm Carbohydrate; 311 mg Sodium

*about 15 ounces raw. To make baked salmon, preheat oven to 450°F. Place skin side down on non-stick baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Source: 5 Ingredients for Healthy Living Cookbook by The Nutrition Sisters Chere Bork, RD and Laurie Meyer, RD.

What's your favorite fish and how do you like to prepare it?

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Just about every week, I enjoy putting together a free e-newsletter as a means to share not only nutrition news headlines, but profile the great work (especially books and recipes) of colleagues and friends. Of course I include links to selected magazines, newspapers, or web sites in which I'm quoted and share blogs and articles I write. I also share video clips from recent tv appearances. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my passion for and having a conversation with you about food, nutrition, diet, health and fitness, topics so important to so many of us especially as it's a challenge for many of us--despite our best efforts--to eat well and move more.

The most popular ZIED GUIDE to date was written a couple of weeks ago. In it I shared a link to the great fooducate.com blog in which I fully disclosed the fact that I'm a Diet Coke addict..and that after 30 or so years, I was going cold turkey. I was amazed to see how interested in and passionate about the diet soda debate people are. This is one reason why I love writing the newsletter, and writing books, articles, and blogs. You never know what's going to resonate with others, and it's exciting when something you write generates a conversation (even if some don't agree with you or what you have to say).

In the days, weeks, months and years ahead, I will continue to share a little bit about myself and, hopefully, provide you, my readers, with useful nutrition and diet-related information, delicious recipes, and resources to help you eat and live better whether you're single, married, a new or seasoned mom, or enjoying an empty nest. I will also share personal experiences and struggles with making changes in my own diet and lifestyle (and in helping members of my own family do the same), because even though I'm a registered dietitian and health professional, I'm not perfect. But I do try my best to eat well and stay fit to improve the quality of my life, and hope you will continue to do the same.

For those of you who enjoy The ZIED GUIDE, thank you so much for your continued support. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with The ZIED GUIDE, I invite you to take a look at some recent ZIED GUIDE newsletters:

Make Overs for Thanksgiving Leftovers, Snack Smart When You Travel & Eat Well with Diabetes (Part 2)

My Diet Coke Detox, Adding Spice to Your Life & Eating Well with Diabetes (Part 1)

Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition, Outside the Box Snacks & Great Recipes for Soccer Moms

EZ Guacamole & Scrumptious Sides, How Experts Take Their Taters & How to Boost Kids' Nutritional IQ

If you like what you see, please sign up for the free (mostly weekly) ZIED GUIDE newsletter, go to elisazied.com and click on "Subscribe to Elisa's Email Newsletter" on the right side of the home page.

Why do you enjoy The ZIED GUIDE?

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When you’re pregnant, symptoms like fatigue and nausea make it harder to not only food shop, but spend time preparing healthy meals for yourself, your unborn child, and the rest of your family. The new book, Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for DUMMIES®, is a great new resource for future and seasoned moms alike. Written by my colleague and friend, registered dietitian Tara Gidus, this book is a handy resource to use not only during pregnancy, but beyond as you strive to get back your body and at the same time, feed yourself and your growing family healthfully and deliciously.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Tara about the book. Here’s what she had to say:

EZ: Tara, I love your new book and wish I had it when I was pregnant with my two sons! I can see it’s a must-read book for every mom-to-be (and for those pregnant more than once). Why should this book be front-and-center on a pregnant woman’s kitchen counter?

TG: The nature of a "For DUMMIES®" book lends to breaking things down in a simple, straightforward manner. You get just what you need in a way you can understand it right away.  Nutrition is a complex science, and pregnancy nutrition can be really confusing with lots of misinformation out there, so this book aims to clear up the confusion and give you what you need to feed your body right so you can have a healthy baby.  It also includes 100 mouth-watering recipes that were carefully designed to have specific nutrients that are ideal for pregnancy.  It also includes sample meal plans to guide you through each trimester, including a meal plan for nursing moms and for weight loss after your bundle arrives.

EZ: We know pregnancy puts increased demands on women’s bodies. What are the key nutritional needs of pregnant women? And what about older moms and moms-to-be--what extra nutritional concerns do they have?

TG: Pregnancy is a time of life when nutrition is paramount--you are fueling yourself as well as growing another human being!  Special attention needs to go to calories, protein, omega-3 fats, and certain vitamins and minerals like iron and folate in order to provide everything both mom and baby need.  Older moms don't necessarily have different nutritional needs when it comes to pregnancy, but they do need to be careful about overall calories to prevent themselves from gaining too much weight and having a hard time losing it again.

EZ: What 5 gadgets or appliances  do you recommend pregnant moms keep in their kitchens to prepare healthful meals in a jif?

TG: A microwave! Sometimes you just don't have time or energy to cook (that fatigue can really get to you!), so microwave meals can be a lifesaver! I’d also recommend a blender. The book has several recipes for smoothies, ideal for on-the-go breakfast or snacks that pack in nutrients! Another must-have is a refrigerator thermometer.  Keeping food safe is really important, especially when you’re pregnant. Keeping your fridge at the proper temperature will allow you to keep meats, dairy, and produce safer. Soap and sanitizers are also essential.  Washing hands is the single best way to prevent illness. Having these things serves as a reminder to wash and/or sanitize your hands and all cooking surfaces often. Finally, it’s a great idea to have a meat thermometer.  All meats need to be cooked to the proper temperature, and the only real way to know the temperature is to stick that thermometer into the center of the cooked piece of meat.

Check out a delicious French Toast recipe from the book on GALTime.com.

Source: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, is the nutrition advisor to American Baby magazine, the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic, and currently appears as the “Diet Diva” on the national television show, The Daily Buzz. Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for DUMMIES® can be found at amazon.com or wherever books are sold.

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Whether you're a soccer mom, or play soccer or any other sport regularly, these two recipes are great additions to your family dinner table. They're from Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros by Nancy Clark RD and Gloria Averbuch (2011).

Keeley Dowling’s Barbeque Salmon

When Sky Blue FC Defender Keeley Dowling worked at a sports complex in Tempe, Arizona, the chef cooked this recipe. That chef taught Keeley to cover the entire piece of salmon with barbeque sauce, so it completely blankets the fish; the thicker the better!  Keeley strongly recommends Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce. It blends very nicely with the salmon, so much so that folks who normally don’t like fish will enjoy this meal. This recipe goes nicely with asparagus and rice, preferably brown.

½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 mg or more, if desired) Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce
1 pound (0.5 kg) salmon

1. Preheat oven to at 400º F (205º C).
2. Place salmon in a baking dish lined with foil (to simplify clean-up).
3. Cover the salmon entirely with Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce.
4. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

Yield: 3 servings

Total calories: 900

Calories per serving: 300

23 g Carbohydrate

30 g Protein

10 g Fat

Val Henderson’s Braised Moroccan Chicken

You can either make this dish the way that Los Angeles Sol Goalkeeper Val does, by browning the chicken as described below. Or, you can more simply toss all the ingredients into a crock pot so dinner can cook while you’re at a soccer game or practice.  If you make it ahead of time, the flavors will taste even better after all the spices really set in.

6 (1 kg) chicken thighs, preferably skinless
1 to 2 tablespoons oil (15-30 g), preferably olive or canola
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
4 to 5 carrots, diced
2 teaspoons (3 g) cinnamon
2 teaspoons (3 g) ginger
Salt, pepper as desired
1 can of chicken broth
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups orange juice (or apple juice)
½ cup (70 g) dried apricots or dates (or mixture)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet.
2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
3. When the oil is very hot, place the chicken in the pan and brown it on both sides, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate.
3. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil/chicken fat from the pan and heat until it is very hot. Add the onion, garlic and carrots. Cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add the cinnamon and ginger. Continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Add the chicken broth and orange juice. Return chicken to the pan; add 1/2 cup of either dried apricots or dates.
6. Cook on low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, covered. Remove chicken and veggies to a dish; continue cooking the sauce until it has thickened, about another 10 minutes. (The sauce doesn’t get very thick.)
7.  Serve chicken over brown rice, and spoon sauce on top.

Yield: 3 servings

Total Calories: 1,450

Calories per serving: 480

40 g Carbohydrate

46 g Protein

15 g Fat

How do you like your salmon and/or chicken prepared?

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This recipe for EZ guacamole comes from registered dietitian Susan Piergeorge, author of Boomer Be Well!

Guacamole is a great dip, salad dressing, or topping for meats, poultry, seafood, or as a topper on potatoes.

Ingredients:

1 avocado, washed, peeled, pitted and mashed

Lemon juice (enough to coat avocado to prevent browning—about 1-2 tsp.)

1/4 cup salsa, drained

1/4 tsp. ground cumin, optional

Directions:

1. Mix avocado and lemon juice.

2. Stir in salsa to taste.

3. Add cumin if desired.

4. Store in covered container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 65 Calories, 1gm PRO, 4 gm CHO, 5.5 gm FAT, 3 gm Fiber, 100 mg Sodium, 232 mg Potassium

This guacamole works great with these awesome baked Chili Lime Chips (see number 1 in a previous ZIED GUIDE blog post, 7 Light Bites & Tasty Treats). Enjoy!

What's your favorite chip and dip combo this time of year?

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Who says side dishes have to be boring! These two heart-healthy recipes are infused with plenty of vegetables, tons of color and amazing flavor, courtesy of registered dietitian Susan Piergeorge's book Boomer Be Well.

Mediterranean Vegetable Mix

This tasty and hearty vegetable mix goes well with seafood, poultry and tofu.

Ingredients:

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive, canola, or Enova oil

1 Tbsp. fresh minced (or 2 tsp. dried) ginger

1 Tbsp. fresh minced (or 2 tsp. dried) oregano

1 Tbsp. fresh minced (or 2 tsp. dried) basil

3/4 pound fresh broccoli, broken into pieces

1 eight-ounce can black pitted whole olives, drained

2 cups fresh sliced button mushrooms or 1 8 ounce can sliced mushrooms (drained and rinsed)

1 pound fresh chopped tomatoes or one 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes with liquid

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1/4 grated parmesan or romano cheese

Directions:

1. In a large sauté pan, place oil, garlic and onion.

2. Heat over medium until onion and garlic are mildly cooked.

3. Add ginger, oregano, and basil. Mix in broccoli, olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

4. Cover and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender, but not overdone (about 5 to 10 minutes).

5. Add vinegar and toss into vegetables.  Place into serving dish. Top with grated cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 130 Calories, 7 gm PRO, 15 gm CHO, 6 gm FAT, 4 mg Chol, 5 gm Fiber, 416 mg Sodium, 594 mg Potassium.

Brussels, Beets & Sweets

This colorful hearty side dish goes well with beef, pork, game, tofu, turkey or chicken. It's easy to make, full of flavor, and loaded with nutrition. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

1 medium onion, rinsed, peeled and chopped

2 lbs. sweet potatoes, rinsed, scrubbed and cut into bite size chunks

1 lb. beets, rinsed, peeled, and cut into bite size chunks

1/2 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, rinsed and cut into halves (or 12 ounce frozen)

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. dried rosemary

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. On large cookie sheet or baking pan assemble all vegetables including onion.

Drizzle canola oil over vegetables and mix together with tongs (or clean hands).

3. Sprinkle garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and rosemary on top of vegetable mixture and stir to coat well.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

5. Take out of oven and stir vegetables.

6. Place back into oven and bake another 20 to 25 minutes until cooked.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 200 calories, 4 gm PRO, 35 gm CHO, 5 gm FAT, 7 gm Fiber, 0 mg Chol, 227 mg sodium, 789 mg potassium, 16203 IU vitamin A, 39 mg vitamin C, 595 mcg lutein and zeaxanthin, 80 mg omega-3 fatty acids, 0.8 mg zinc

What are your favorite vegetable side dishes?

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