Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

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High protein, low carbohydrate, gluten-free, probiotics, whole grain, green tea, shakes…

Everywhere you look, someone has the newest or best way to eat. All of this information gets confusing and overwhelming. Eating becomes stressful rather than pleasurable.

Food is meant to fuel our bodies. Food is meant to be a pleasant and joyful experience. All too often we rob ourselves of this experience. Rushing through a meal in order to get to the next practice or event, eating in the car, or while on the computer also take our focus away from food.

Food is a part of many aspects of our lives. Food is a vital part of many traditions and social experiences. Cake on birthdays, ham on Easter, grilled hamburgers and brats for the 4th of July, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving are all examples of food traditions. Food also is a very social experience. Food seems to taste better when surrounded by people. Take time to have conversations, to smell and to taste your food.

I challenge you to “Savor the flavor” of your next meal. Take a moment to enjoy the tradition of food, the social experience, and the great flavors.

How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods – that's the best way to savor the flavor of eating right!

Cheesecake stuffed strawberries

Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

(source http://www.hy-vee.com)
Serves 15 (1 each)

All you need:
15 medium fresh strawberries
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ c graham cracker crumbs
1 (6 oz) bar dark chocolate

All you do:
1.Slice off the stem end of each strawberry. Use a knife to scoop out a little bit of each berry to make a hole in the center. Set aside.
2.Beat together cream cheese and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth.
3.Using a small spoon, fill each strawberry with the cream cheese mixture, mounding a bit on the top of the strawberry.
4.Place strawberries on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Once all strawberries are filled, sprinkle cream cheese mixture with graham cracker crumbs.
5.In double boiler, melt chocolate chips until smooth. Gently dip the bottom of strawberries in chocolate mixture. Set on waxed paper to cool. Refrigerate berries until ready to serve. Best if served within six hours of making.

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Weeknight Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

We all have those recipes that we come back to time and time again. This chicken gyro recipe is one of our staples. It is quick to pull together on a weeknight, and best of all, everyone in my family LOVES them. SCORE! No fighting and complaining during supper. #supermom 

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce (serves 4; 1 pita each)

All you need:
1/4 seedless cucumber (or 1 picolino cucumber)
1 clove garlic
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1.25-1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts)
4 pitas
Feta cheese (as garnish)

All you do:

  1. Prepare the ingredients. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Finely dice the cucumber. Peel and finely mince garlic. Quarter and seed the lemon. Thinly slice red pepper. Peel and slice half of an onion.
  2. Make the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the diced cucumber, yogurt, garlic, dill, juice from 1/2 a lemon, salt and pepper (1/8 tsp salt and black pepper, to taste). cover and chill until ready to serve.
  3. Season the chicken. Preheat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and rosemary over the chicken. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through (internal temperature of 165 degrees). Cut into strips.
  4. Plate the meal. Arrange one pita on each plate. Gently open the pita pocket. Add chicken, red pepper strips and onions. Top with tzatziki sauce and feta.


  

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Guacamole to Go. A Perfect Snack

Snack time. It can either be used for good or evil. The foods and portions you choose can add nutrition to your day, or sabotage everything you have done and set you up for a blood sugar roller coaster. 

Americans are snacking on average between 2 and 3 times every day! So it’s easy to see how influential snacks can be. Snacks can either help you achieve your health goals, or lead you astray. 

Many people plan out their meals, but forget about snacks, leaving the decision up to impulse. I’m here to tell you that no good decision can be made when you’re hangry! (And I mean NO decisions should be made with low blood sugar. What to eat? Nope. What to wear? Nope. What to watch? Nope. Which car to buy? Nope.)

This is where snacks can be a benefit. But like I talked about here, snacks should have aid in helping balance blood sugars. 

Welcome GoodFood’s Guacamole to go. You get fresh, chunky guacamole (made with quality, real ingredients), and a portion of corn tortilla chips. 

  
The taste and flavor are spot on. Nutritionally these are amazing. A moderate 200 calories of guacamole goodness. And the package is in the shape of an avocado! 

So RUN, don’t walk to the store and find these next to the other refrigerated guacamole. You will thank me later. 

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Snack Smarter

Snacking has become a nearly universal behavior. Nearly 97% of Americans are snacking at least once per day, with more than 40% snacking three to four times. What you choose to snack on should match your health goals and can make all the difference.

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Here are 6 tips to help you snack smarter:
1. Choose wisely. Select snacks that will fill nutrient gaps; avoid snacks that may be low-calorie or low-fat but devoid of nutrients.

2. Drink up. Stayin hydrated is just as important as fueling your body consistently; stick to hydrating low-calorie beverages the still or sparkling water or iced tea.

3. Timing is everything. Don’t wait too long between meals; it could lead to overindulging later.

4. Keep it convenient. Make healthy snacks visible and accessible; you’ll be more likely to grab them when hunger strikes.

5. Portions matter. Too much of a good thing can still be too much; stick to appropriate portion sizs.

6. Plan ahad. Whether it’s keeping the care, desk, or travel bag stocked, planning ahead can save time and keep you on track.
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When I snack, I aim for finding a source of protein + carbohydrates + fat.

Almonds + dried apricots
Almond butter + apple slices
Cheese stick + orange
Nuts + dark chocolate (a little indulgence can be exactly what I need to make it through the rest of my day).

*Information taken from the California Almonds “Snacking Just Got Smarter” handout.

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Pineapple Salsa with Shrimp

You know those moments when everything just seems right? This salsa has the power to right all wrongs and make your life sing! 

  This recipe is based on one from the newest Hy-Vee Seasons magazine, with a few modifications. 

It is easy to throw together, you can make it ahead of time, is delicious with tortilla chips, over a bed of greens, and even with a spoon. 

  
Pineapple Salsa with Shrimp (serves 12 (1/3 cup each))

All you need:

8 ounces of shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and finely diced

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 diced jalapeño 

1 lime, juiced

Salt, to taste

All you do:

1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté shrimp with oil and garlic until cooked through. Chopped and set aside to cool. 

2. In a bowl, combine pineapple, onion, red pepper, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice and salt. Stir in cooled shrimp. Let rest 30 minutes or up to one day. 

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Greek Layer Dip

You know those recipes that you tend to gravitate towards because they are easy, pretty, and delicious? Well, this is one of my favorite appetizer and party dishes. It is made with ingredients that are easy to find (I almost always have the ingredients in my house), it is quick to put together (and even best when prepared ahead of time), and so delicious.

  

Greek Layer Dip

All you need:
1 jar (15 oz) hummus (any flavor)
½ seedless cucumber, chopped
½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 green onions, sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup sliced black olives (kalamata are my favorite)

All you do:
1.Spread hummus on 10-inch serving platter.
2.Sprinkle with cucumber, tomatoes, onions, feta, and olives. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with sliced vegetables, tortilla chips, or crackers.

Nutrition Facts per 2 tablespoons: 38 calories, 2 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 128 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber

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Herb-Roasted Squash

There are many ways to make squash, but my personal favorite is savory instead of sweet. It is simple to make and uses ingredients that I always have on hand.

The addition of pinenuts add some crunch to a creamy dish. You can also substitute slivered almonds in a pinch.

Herb Roasted Squash

All you need:

2 squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (any variety)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp dried Rosemary
3/4 tsp dried thyme
Pine nuts (slivered almonds work too)

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line an 11-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Place squash cubes in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, rosemary and thyme. Pour over squash and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until squash is tender and golden brown. Garnish with pine nuts.

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