Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Portobello mushrooms

I have a new love.  Big, fresh portobello mushrooms are being added to my list of favorites!  I just seasoned and grilled one up for a salad and I tell you what, it is the best meat replacement ever!  They cook up so juicy, flavor-FULL, and meaty and in my opinion taste better than any steak I've ever had.  Then again, I don't eat steak so I'm sure many would disagree with me; especially my husband.  I just started playing around with them after searching for something new to create and wow, I have a major crush.  And what's even better is the fact that they are loaded with nutrients and fiber, they are low in calories and have no fat.

Throw on into a bag add some italian dressing, dijon, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper and gently rub the marinade all over the mushroom.  Place on a hot grill set to low flipping every five minutes until it begins looking soft and juicy!

Whoa delicious!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A few of my favorite things...

Every lover of cooking has favorite ingredients that are on hand in the cupboard or fridge consistently. Throughout the past couple of years, I have definitely discovered mine but they came to me sorf of indirectly. I began to noticing that I was often reaching for the same few ingredients on a regular basis and sometimes even sneaking them into receipes when they weren't even called for. They go into almost everything I make as they all have their unique qualities that lend that special something to certain dishes and sauces.

Okay first we'll start with the basic. Lean poultry and eggs. They are beautiful blank canvases that you can turn into award winners given some high quality seasonings. Second, the freezer goods. My go to veggies that never let me down and are a screamin' bargain! Frozen spinach and sweet bell pepper mix. They are stocked in my freezer at all times. I use them in egg dishes, meatloafs, fajitas, veggie burgers, etc. Thirdly, onions and garlic. What can't you put those in? They truly complete a meal. Next up are two favorite condomits that add tang, acidity and brightness. I'm talking about red wine vinegar and dijon mustard. Two must haves for homemade salad dressing. Add to those good quality olive oil for healthy omega-3s and a must have for whatever you're making. Following is onion powder, sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns. Onion powder gives whatever I'm cooking a great hit of flavor without tasting overwhelming. Beans! I've made vegetarian "meatloafs" out of lentils and veggies alone. They are so versatile, so nutritious and they lend a creamy, rich mouthfeel to whatever you put them in without the fat. And what can't you do with beans. Close behind on the creamy train, butternut squash. Mmmm... Sweet, buttery, butternut squash. Mash it into meatloafs, puree it for a soup, eat it straight out of the oven kissed with golden flecks from the oven and toped with sea salt. Finally, if I must bring this to a close.... Freshly grated parmesan cheese. It delivers flavor like nothing else! I treat myself to good quality cheese on a regular basis. The better they are the less you use and all the more satifying. No pre-shredded, processed, cellulose coated crap that doesn't even taste like cheese.

It's really hard to pick and choose favorites but given the ingredients above masterpieces are created!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beans, beans, the magical fruit....

Beans are one of those magical foods. They are as old as dirt, cheap as dirt and still a staple ingredient if not the main ingredient in cuisines all over the world. They are a food that can savory or sweet. A main course, a side, a soup, a salad and beyond. Beans are a power house when it comes to nutrients as they are packed with fiber, protein, vitamin b, folate, magnesium, iron, and on and on. Pure and simple yet so satisfying and familiar beans should be a mainstay in every home.

My favorite? Chick peas! I could eat them straight out of the can! They compliment any salad, puree up into delicious hummus and are awesome mixed into a pasta salad.

Roasted Butternut Squah Meatloaf!

This is my newest and favorite meatloaf recipe that I just had to get down on paper before I forgot it! The addition of the butternut squash makes this absolutely delicious! It adds moisture and a creamy texture while contributing to a sensational buttery-sweet flavor!


8 ounces of lean turkey breast
10 ounces frozen spinach warmed and drained of all water
1 small butternut squash
1/4 parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 T olive oil divided
1 t dry basil
1 t dry oregano
1 t dry marjorum
1 t onion powder
1 t salt divided
1/2 t fresh ground pepper
1/2 15 ounce can stewed tomatoes

Peel and chop the butternut squash into bite size pieces and scatter over a baking pan. Rub 1 t of olive oil all over and sprinkle with 1/4 t salt. Place in oven and roast at 400 for 40 minutes of until lightly golden and very soft, turning every 10 minutes.

Add onion and garlic with 1 t olive oil to sautee pan on med-low until translucent and slightly browned.

Once squash is done add to a mixing bowl and mash until it looks like mashed potatoes. Add all remaining ingredients besides stewed tomatoes to mixing bowl with squash and combine until all ingredients are consistent throughout.

Place in meatloaf pan and top with stewed tomatoes. The juice will give some extra moisture and flavor to the meatloaf as it cooks and the tomatoe pieces will carmalize!

Place in 375 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes depending on your over. I highly recommend using a digital thermometer for best results.

Let cool for about 15 minutes when done. Cut into four servings and top with FRESHLY grated parmesan cheese!


Friday, June 12, 2009

A step in the meatless direction....

I swear there have been days where I've eaten more than a pound of turkey in the course of 16 hours. I was astonished when I realized it and certainly didn't feel too great about it. Sure, it's lean, high quality stuff and loaded with nutrients but no person needs that much protein in one day.

Of course there are So many more terrible foods to consume over poultry and I'm sure many would think I was nuts for even thinking this. Although, for the sake of my kidneys, the high price of organic poultry and the overall mntal satisfaction of decreasing my animal intake I decided to trim back.

Protein to me is just so satisfying. It makes me feel complete after a meal, physically speaking. Stabalizing my blood sugar and giving my belly something to grab onto and slowly break down. When I don't have protein at meals I often feel hungier sooner and not quite as satisfide. I won't go 100% vegetarian because I know my body needs that animal protein but lately I have cut back about 30-50%. It's just a matter of focusing more on plant based foods and adding more of those into the foods I make. Instead of a full pound of turkey when I make a meatloaf I now add half-a-pound of ground turkey to half a pound of sauteed veggies. Any veggies I have one hand. Herbs, salt and pepper and an ounce of high quality parmesan cheese complete it and it is awesome. I enjoy this new approach to food and feel better about eating this way. And who could ever feel guilty about eating more veggies, bean and whole grains.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stoneyfield Farms organic plain yogurt!

In an attempt to add more calcium and probiotics into my diet I decided to start eating Stoneyfield lowfat plain yogurt. Although it doesn't have much flavor by itself it has become my favorite blank canvas from which to create dozons of new recipes. Of course I started out making the classic tzatziki sauce with garlic, dill, cucumber and lemon juice and I loved it! I found that I preferred it lemon free b/c the natural tang from the yogurt itself was engouh. From there I went wild. Cilantro based yogurt sauces with cumin, garlic, and chilie powder was amazing over grilled chicken, onions and peppers. Pesto flavored sauce with fresh basil, garlic and onion came next and was terrific over meatballs. For a snack I sweetened a cup with stevia and farm fresh strawberries and blueberries. The longer it sits with the fruit in it, the better.

One trick when using it in savory recipes is to let it drain for about an hour over a fine mesh collander lined with cheese cloth. I have left it drain for 24 hours and that's even better. It makes it so rich and thick and gives you that mouth feel like you're eating something decadent when it's basically fat free. My current blend combines fresh cilantro, green onions, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper! It's wonderful over anything and perks up lean chicken breast fabulously! I'm always thinking of new creations and am feeling great about eating something so good for me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great talk...

After several in depth conversations that I was having with myself about my decision to go back to school I decided to call my alma mater; good old Ohio U. Certainly there would be someone there who could give me advice about contiuing my RD degree and whether or not it was worth it. I dialed the dietetics department and within two rings it was answered by the overlly helpful and cheerful head of Dietetics, Dr. H. I laid it out for him telling him every thought I had about going back and why I had convinced myself that maybe I was making the wrong decision. His answer was uplifting and clarifide each and everyone of my concerns. He first informed of the many, many alternative avenues that RDs have now-a-days apart from the typical hospital career. Secondly, he reminded me of the importance of having that license if I really wanted to get serious in the nutrition field. I would need credentials and education that would only come from an RD degree. He erased all my fears and I am rejuvinated once again. When in doubt call someone who knows.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Skinny Bitch

I just read the book Skinny Bitch and I have to say that it is honesty in it's most brutal, almost insulting form. While I enjoyed the jplethora of information and breakdown of every aspect of food and eating I felt almost as though I was a child being punished. A lot of the information I agree with and in all honesty I feel as though I eat as a purist. I pride myself on buying the best foods I can get my hands on and limit my exposure to as many processed foods, preservatives and pesticides as possible. I don't know if I buy into everything in the book nor will I follow it 100% but I do think it's a quick, informative and somewhat entertaining book that provides a lot of information in a way that can keep people interested. While I only eat fish and fowl giving them up completely is not something that I can do. There isn't enough proof to convince me that eating organic, farm-raised chicken will wreck havock upon my body. Could I cut back on my protein intake? Sure, I will attest to that. My caffeine? I will never give up coffee but I can certainly cut back and buy only organic. I could go on and on and continue to cut out more and more but honestly, where does it end? Where do you draw the line between be OCD and healthy. There needs to be some wiggle room. Unfortunatly the majority of Americans take this wiggle room to the extreme.

I do have a lot of respect for this book because it is trying to shake our nation out of this obesity epidemic and wake us up to the severe health risks of the American diet. It is the brutal honesty that people need to hear. Most americans are terribly overweight and unhealthy. Most people subsist on fast food, pre-packaged meals and highly processed foods. Yes there are a lot of people who don't have the education to know what is truly good or bad for them but come on, you know that a salad is much better for you than a burger and fries. And that it takes just as much time to eat a turkey sanwhich as it does to eat a double whopper. As a personal trainer I have heard ALL the excuses and they are truly pathetic. What it comes down to is how much people really care about themselves. I cannot sit in front of anyone and make them want to eat healthfully. All I can do is educate. The rest is up to them.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

To be or not to be...

Home for the weekend! Buffalo, NY and home of WEGMANS! The greatest grocery store known to man. After my dad picked me up we headed straight there for a dynamite lunch of perfectly grilled chicken, broccoli rabe, grilled veggies and veggie soup! Then of course a quick stroll around the store to pick-up some healthy eats for the weekend. After Egg whites, ww bread, omega-3 eggs, all natural sparkling water, tuna and some chicken breasts we were on way! Beautiful sunny skies and NO HUMIDITY! It feels good to come home!

Everytime I think that I'm sure I'm making the right decision about going back to school of a dietetics degree someone or something seems to change my mind. I've been unsure for a year but now I am really thinking that going the RD route just isn't right. In an attempt to dive deeper into the nutrition/health field I thought the best way to do that was to simply become an RD. Although the more research I do and the more people in that field to whom I speak the less certain I feel. Truth is, I don't want to work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, etc. and that seems to be the career path of an RD. I want to write, represent, or promote and of course somehow fit cooking into that! I'm getting dizzy! I guess coming home this weekend, taking time away from my day-to-day life really allows me to sit and think about what I want to do with my future. With already a year under my belt towards an RD degree I think I better cut my losses and explore other options.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My love of cooking and health

Food is everything to me. Healthy food that is. Not only does it fill my belly and give me the fuel I need for the day but it gives me the nutrients I need to function at my best; mind, body and spirit. I eat foods that provide the biggest "bang for my buck" so that I can squeeze out every nutrient I can to give to my body. Clean, unprocessed, all natural food. My motto, if you can't grow it, don't eat it. Eating this way makes me feel great physically but also mentally because I know I'm doing all I can to be as healthy as possible. Okay, okay truth be told I am known to purchase few ingredients that do have to processed but it's things like bread, dijon mustard, teriyaki sauce, and tomatoe sauce but if you notice they're all pretty pure ingredients. And I gave up on trying to make bread months ago. I'm so not a bread baker! I think I've had one loaf turn out perfectly but 99% of the time I get little bricks of flour that go right into the trash (well, composter). I've tried all the tricks to make perfect bread and for some reason it's just not working!

Anyway aside from eating a clean diet the even better part is cooking with all these fabulous, fresh ingredients. I could spend hours (and I sometimes do) in the kitchen cooking! Trying a new blend of fresh herbs for my turkey/veggie meatloaf. Making salad dressing and yogurt sauces with fresh herbs, olive oil right from Greece and roasted garlic. I love creating new recipes and experimenting with new flavors. Cooking is theraputic to me and I find that even after a long day on my feet I come home to my kitchen and relax with cooking. It's great "me" time and it makes me happy. What's better than being happy?