Monday, February 28, 2011

Eat. Live. Be. Topic #8: Let’s Talk Portions

In an attempt to curb my portion distortion, I use luncheon plates and salad forks.  I prefer a fuller small plate than an empty dinner plate.  There is something more satisfying about eating from a full plate.  I also like to pre-portion my food and resist the urge for seconds by wrapping the leftovers, placing them in the refrigerator or freezer before I eat.  I use a kitchen scale when portioning meat and fish and a cup measure for cereal.  Another trick is to fill at least half your plate with vegetables before adding the protein or starch.  I don't buy cookies or chips so I don't have to worry about portioning those items :)  Pasta is where I go the most astray - I over make it and overeat it!  I have banished the pasta bowls that I used to use and pasta is now also served on a luncheon plate (piled high!)

Individual Crustless Quiche

Here are a few links to delicious portion controlled dishes from some of my favorite sites:

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins topped with Spinach and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes For the Love of Cooking
Individual Potato Gratins Stacey Snacks
Mini Ricotta, Eggplant and Pasta Timbales Proud Italian Cook
Red Peppers Stuffed with Orzo and Feta Cheese One Perfect Bite
Dad's Rice Pudding Kalofagas
Lasagna Cupcakes  The Kitchn
Crustless Quiche Mark Bittman
Bouchons au thon  Journey of an Italian Cook

Muffin tins, ramekins, cookie and biscuit cutters are all great tools to use when creating individual portions.  Sharing is another way to exercise portion control - half the calories!  I would love to hear any ideas that you have to keep portion sizes under control.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Summer Foods in February

I am positively craving summer foods!  I want corn on the cob, grilled clams and fresh local berries!  One problem - it is February...This is the time of year when I am officially done with winter.  No more snow - please!  I want to wear flip flops and sunscreen.

I guess that summer will be here eventually, but in the meantime, I made a summer meal in February.  On the menu was Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa (a delicious and simple five star recipe from Cooking Light), saffron rice and Cornmeal-Olive Oil Cake with Balsamic-Macerated Strawberries and Basil.  Delicious! 

I followed Emeril's recipe for the cake but he serves his with poached peaches in rosemary-honey syrup (I will try this when good peaches are available).  I used a biscuit cutter to make individual cakes and served them with balsamic-macerated strawberries and fresh basil.  
Cake Recipe Courtesy: Emeril Lagasse


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cornmeal.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs, egg yolk, milk, olive oil and lemon zest until frothy. Add the sugar and honey, and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few crumbs adhering.

Macerated Strawberries - granulated sugar, balsamic vinegar, sliced strawberries

Monday, February 21, 2011

Favorite Healthy Grab and Go Snacks

The Eat. Live. Be. topic of the week is "Favorite Healthy Grab and Go Snacks". 

The key to healthy snacking is to have healthy foods on hand and ready to go.  Dips are great.  They can be made ahead of time and portioned out into single serve containers.  I like to stock up on nuts and fruit at Trader Joe's and I always have a container of fresh ground almond butter in the refrigerator.  Cut up vegetables and seasonal fruit are always great options.  I don't think that I can pick just one healthy snack favorite so I will go with my top ten.  Happy Snacking!

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips
Favorite Healthy Grab and Go Snacks

  1. Yogurt with Fruit and Granola
  2. Mixed Nuts/Dried Fruit
  3. Hummus with Vegetables or Pita Chips
  4. White Bean Dip with Pita Chips (pictured above)
  5. Roasted Chickpeas 
  6. Frozen Grapes (So Good!)
  7. Almond Butter on Whole Grain Bread or Crackers
  8. Olives and Cheese
  9. Tuna/Chicken Salad on Whole Grain Crackers
  10. Mediterranean Organic Orange Marmalade  or Cascadian Farms Strawberry preserves on a Whole Grain English Muffin
What are your favorite healthy snacks? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Simple Arugula Salad

This week's Eat.Live.Be topic is about healthy advice from the experts.  Since I have been religiously checking food labels and avoiding processed foods, I will share the following links with information on the topic:
I just love Michael Pollan's advice to not eat anything that your great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food or ingredients that are unpronounceable/unrecognizable (see the Unhappy Meals link). 

I recently discovered David Rocco's Dolce Vita on the Food Channel and I love it!  He makes simple delicious Italian food and focuses on quality ingredients.  I saw him make an arugula salad with cubed pears, grana padano cheese and toasted pine nuts dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   I made it right after watching the show since I was fortunate to have all of the ingredients in the house.   It was just delicious.  I recommend the show and the salad!



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trader Joe's Shrewsbury, NJ Update

Just a quick update on the new Trader Joe's for those who are anxiously awaiting the grand opening like me.  I took a drive by on my way home from work on Friday to see if I could get an idea of when the store would be opening.  The sign is up, the shelving is being installed inside and the staff has been hired.  Maybe it will open next month?  I hope so! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chinese Take-Out at Home

I had a craving for Chinese take-out but I am trying to stay on track with eating well.  So what to do? ...

I made a healthier version of chicken and broccoli at home.  I already had a nice bunch of beautiful, organic broccoli and boneless chicken breasts on hand, so chicken and broccoli stir-fry it was.  I love this Food Network Kitchens recipe because it is A:  delicious; B: uses the broccoli stems in addition to the florets - no waste; C: it's easy to put together; D:  it's way healthier than take-out!  I like to be able to control the quality of ingredients and ultimately calories.  Give this stir-fry a try - guaranteed you will love it! 

Carrots, mushrooms, red peppers, water chestnuts and corn all would make great additions - a stir-fry is a great way to use up the produce that you have on hand.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry
Courtesy:  Food Network Kitchens

Marinate the chicken while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

1 pound chicken breast (about 2 breasts), cubed
3 scallions, whites only, thinly sliced on an angle
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
About 1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 to 6 cups broccoli, trimmed sliced stalks and medium florets (keep the 2 cuts separate)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
Garnish: toasted sesame seeds, optional
Serving suggestion: Jasmine rice


In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the scallion whites, about half the garlic and ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the sherry, and the sesame oil. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Mix the remaining cornstarch with 1/3 cup water.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat. Add the broccoli stems, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the florets and the remaining garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons of water, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Stir-fry until the broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Get the skillet good and hot again, and then heat 2 more tablespoons oil. Add the chicken and chili flakes if using. Stir-fry until the chicken loses its raw color and gets a little brown, about 3 minutes. Add the hoisin sauce, return the broccoli to the pan and toss to heat through. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil to thicken. Add more water if need to thin the sauce, if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you like. Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter or divide among 4 plates and garnish with sesame seeds; serve with rice.

Eat. Live. Be. Results Update:

It is the first Monday of the month and time to reflect on the progress of my goals.  Well my pantry looks as bad as ever - big fail in that area!  I am making a really big effort to use what I have in the house and have resisted the urge to overbuy (especially produce).  I even put my vegetable box on hold for now.  I have been religiously reading labels and eating really well.  I also have been exercising regularly - yay me!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kale and White Bean Soup

I completely missed Monday's post!  I've had a crazy busy week and haven't quite gotten my act together... Snow, ice, more snow, and work...  and a few unexpected obligations and now it's already Wednesday!  This week's Eat. Live. Be. topic is sharing your favorite healthy lifestyle change.  Hmmm, what is my favorite?

Well, I have gradually been making healthy lifestyle changes.  I have recently added regular exercise and guess what?  I don't hate it!  I actually kind of, sort of, like it!  When I miss a day, I am disappointed.  WOW! 

Healthy eating is a choice that I've made, not a punishment.  I enjoy fresh vegetables and whole grains.  I have scaled down the amount of meat that I eat and I don't miss it.  I mostly buy organic vegetables and meats from local farms.  I cannot tell you the last time I ate fast food and I avoid any processed, well heavily processed foods.  Olive oil is my oil of choice and I avoid butter - though I do love Kerrygold Irish butter which I became addicted to after a trip to Ireland.  I had a slice of whole grain bread slathered with Kerrygold butter with my soup the other day and I don't regret it!   I also still do love pizza ;) and succumb frequently to chocolate cravings.  Overall, I eat a very healthy diet and it is way better than five years ago!

Another change that I have made is to eat throughout the day.  I now enjoy breakfast.  This may be my favorite change since it does of course involve extra food!  I was guilty of not eating all day, then coming home and more than making up for it.  Now, I do not leave the house without something healthy.  I really like yogurt sprinkled with granola and fresh blueberries.  Almond butter on whole grain bread is something I can grab without any thought.  If I have extra time I like mini omelets made in a muffin tin or healthy pancakes.  I really look forward to breakfast now and I feel a lot better with that simple change. 

I have also changed my attitude.  I don't care about a number on the scale or about being a certain dress size.  I just want to feel good and receive clear doctor reports (cholesterol, glucose, etc.).   I am not dieting, just treating myself well! 

I want to share a recipe for Kale and White Bean Soup.  It is delicious with bread and butter (Irish butter of course!)  Healthy, quick and delicious! 

Kale and White Bean Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, chopped,
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 can of white beans drained (cannellini)
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
grana padano cheese, grated
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven.  Add the carrots and onions.  Saute over medium heat until softened, stirring often.  Add garlic and cook for one more minute.  Next add the chopped kale and cook until it is wilted down.  Season with salt, fresh pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.  Add the chicken stock, beans and tomatoes.   Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with plenty of fresh grated grana padano cheese and some crusty bread.  Enjoy!