Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rise and Shine

Mom was always right when she said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. It gets our minds and bodies ready for the day and actually improves our mental functioning (and you thought you only needed coffee for that!) If we have a satisfying breakfast full of protein and fiber, it keeps us satisfied until lunch and prevents us from becoming famished and overeating. There is actually research that says people who eat a balanced breakfast every day actually weigh less than those who don't eat breakfast. The reason? Well, eating breakfast gets our metabolism revving and prevents our bodies from thinking we are "starving" and hoarding the calories we do consume (which is usually more if we don't eat breakfast). So for those of you who don't eat breakfast because you aren't hungry, or don't have time, or . . . I encourage you to start the habit because your body will thank you.

Here are some of the things I eat for breakfast, along with some other quick "on-the-go" ideas:

  • Bowl of non-fat plain yogurt with some whole grain cereal and fruit (try Wallaby brand because it's not as "tangy" as most yogurts).
  • Simple bowl of whole-grain cereal with skim milk and fruit.
  • Instant oatmeal (if using the packets get lower sugar) made with skim milk. I like to add a tbsp of peanut butter for satiating power, banana, lots of cinnamon and toasted walnuts.
  • Bull's eye - simply cut a circle out of a piece of bread and saute and egg in the middle and top with a little shredded low-fat cheese.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk
  • Any good ol' cereal bar, make sure it has at least 200 calories and enough protein to hold you over if that is all you will eat.
  • Cottage cheese Toast - I like to take a piece of toast, put peanut butter and jelly on it, top it with a scoop of cottage cheese and some fruit. It sound's weird but is really good!
  • Turkey and Cheese stuffed in a pita pocket (who said it has to be "breakfast foods"?)
  • Banana boat - stuff one banana, some peanut butter, jelly, etc into a hot dog bun
  • The possibilities are endless!
Please let me know of your favorite breakfast food!

Every once in awhile, Chris and I really enjoy having the traditional breakfast on the weekends. The kind of breakfast that holds you over well after lunch time. You know what I'm talking about . . . eggs, bacon, the whole she-bang. Well, I recently tried a great Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancake recipe from www.pinchmysalt.com and it was to die for. So if you love pumpkin during the holidays, you should really try this recipe along with the other must-haves like scrambled eggs, bacon or turkey bacon, etc. Insteat of maple syrup we like to mixed pumpkin butter and cinnamon into non-fat greek yogurt which is really good.

Another great weekend breakfast recipe that we love, and also works well for company because you can make it the night before, is the Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole from CookingLight. I've tweaked it a little bit and have used a couple great products from Trader Joe's.

I hope you enjoy these because we sure do, yum!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes


Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole



12 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


  • Cooking spray
  • 12 ounces maple chicken breakfast sausage (from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 cups egg substitute
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 16 oz (about 1/2 loaf) Garlic focaccia bread from Trader Joe's (you could use 16 1-oz slices of your favorite bread)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese


1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring and breaking sausage to crumble. Remove from heat; cool.

2. Combine milk and next 6 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

3. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Add bread cubes, sausage, and cheddar cheese to milk mixture, stirring to combine. Pour bread mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking or 3-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray, spreading egg mixture evenly in baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350°.

5. Remove casserole from refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes.

Sometimes I like to saute some vegetables along with the sausage like zucchini or mushrooms too.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 184 (33% from fat)
Fat: 6.8g (sat 3.2g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.8g)
Protein: 15.9g
Carbohydrate: 14g
Fiber: 0.6g
Cholesterol: 76mg
Iron: 2.2mg
Sodium: 636mg
Calcium: 181mg

Monday, December 22, 2008

Worth the wait

I decided to try to replicate a dish that I savored at Maggiano's several weeks ago called Beef Braciole. This dish is to die for and if you ever go there you should give it a try, not to mention their half order portions are big enough for 2! I couldn't imagine what a full-order looks like.
I found a similar recipe on CookingLight and adjusted it a little bit to satisfy my love for lamb and added fresh pasta. When you say lamb most people get freaked out, but it is so delicious and not too different from beef, with a much better flavor. While this dish does take about 8 hours in the slow-cooker it is sure worth the wait because it has a wonderfully rich depth of flavor. We decided to serve it with red-wine pappardelle. Homemade pasta isn't really too difficult to make and I highly recommend it over the dried. I will post a pasta and pizza dough recipe soon, Enjoy!

Lamb Daube Provencal with Red Wine Pappardelle



  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1.5-lb lamb meat, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes (you could also use chuck roast)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup red wine (I used a malbec)
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles) We made fresh red-wine pappardelle
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling


  1. Heat oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, and add to slow-cooker.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add lamb to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove lamb from pan and add to slow-cooker.
  3. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits and reduce down for 5 minutes.
  4. Add wine, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf) to the slow-cooker, stirring to combine.
  5. Turn slow-cooker on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low for 6-7 hours more. Or you can just cook on low for 8 hours. It just needs to get nice and reduced.
  6. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Cook for 3 minutes and add to slow-cooker to thicken it a bit with the lid off.
  7. Serve over pasta, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or rice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. The possibilities are endless!
Leftovers Idea: This would also be great for the base of a shephard's pie. Yum!

The "well" method is the best way to make fresh pasta we've found . . .


This attachment makes it really easy to roll the pasta, but they also have countertop versions too . . .


This dough turned out pretty sticky for us this time around, so we decided to hang it before boiling so it wouldn't stick . . .


Here are the Nutrition Facts from CookingLight recipe:

Nutritional Information

Yield: 6 servings (3/4 cup stew and 1/2 cup noodles)

Calories: 367 (31% from fat)
Fat: 12.8g (sat 4.3g,mono 5.8g,poly 0.9g)
Protein: 29.1g
Carbohydrate: 33.4g
Fiber: 3.9g
Cholesterol: 105mg
Iron: 4.3mg
Sodium: 776mg
Calcium: 76mg

Friday, December 19, 2008

Always a good standby . . .

I couldn't let another post go by without highlighting this recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart. Some of you have already seen it on my MySpace too. This is definitely my favorite go-to dish whenever I don't have any other ideas for the weekly meal plan. It always turns out great and is really really easy to make. Go ahead and experiment with different types of sausage (lower fat of course) and pasta to make it your own. I have made it for several family and friends, who always request me to make it. This dish is even great for leftovers, and I am all about the leftovers! They can be a great way to stretch food dollars. I know when I go visit my mom in NC for Christmas, this will definitely be on the menu!

Broccoli and Sausage Pasta

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage


Serves 2-3.

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound broccoli, trimmed and washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 8 ounces turkey or chicken sausage (lower fat), casing removed
  • 1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth mixed with 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 pound pasta, such as campanelle or farfalle
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan/Romano cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Add salt and broccoli to the boiling water. Cook until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain, and transfer to ice bath. When cool, drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots; cook until just golden. Add sausage; saute, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until cooked through. Add broth. Cook until heated through and reduced, about 10 minutes.
  3. While that is reducing, add pasta to other pot; cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
  4. Add pasta and broccoli to skillet; toss to combine. Season with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle with cheese; toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Feel free to double the recipe because left-overs are extra delicious. Increase the amount of veggies by sauteing mushrooms and zucchini with the sausage too. I also recommend serving it with piece of crusty bread and a nice fruity balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yum!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful . . .


But, my inefficient oven is so delightful (in the cold of winter anyways). We haven't even had to turn on our heat yet because our oven is like the furnace from . . . well . . .
Since it's actually cold in Vegas now, and we even got a big snowfall that is actually sticking! all I've been craving is something comforting from the oven to warm me up. It especially works well when we don't have to use our heater too! I recently tried a great recipe from CookingLight called Biscuit-topped chicken pot pie. It was exactly what I was looking for in a bowl of comfort and warmth. This time around I made a few slight changes including the topping, because I absolutely love sweet cornbread and thought it would go very well with the pot pie filling. And it did! If you ever get the chance to make this you won't be disappointed and there are lots of leftovers for reheating and savoring.

Before trying this recipe I had never worked with leeks before, but don't be afraid of them. They absolutely make this recipe and should not be substituted. To clean them simply run your knife length wise down the middle of the leek then rinse all the grit from the layers. Then cut width wise using only the white and light green parts.

Cornbread Topped Chicken Pot Pie


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups chopped leek
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 2 tsp herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced fingerling potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped roasted chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2/3 cup non-fat half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the Corn bread topping:

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 whole egg


Preheat oven to 425°.

  1. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek, shallot, and herbs; sauté 2 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine or broth; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates.
  3. Stir in mustard and broth; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in chicken, mixed vegetables, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute.
  5. Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture, half-and-half and Parmesan to pan.
  6. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  8. Combine dry ingredients for the cornbread with whisk.
  9. Use same whisk to combine wet ingredients in separate bowl.
  10. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until smooth.
  11. Dollop and spread onto chicken pot-pie mixture.
  12. Bake at 425° for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden and filling is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes.
This yields 8 servings, each with about 450-500 kcals.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh the Holidays!

I love this time of year, especially the smells of wonderful baked goodies coming from the oven, tempting the senses and taste buds! I think cinnamon is my favorite spice for sure because it's great on pretty much anything sweet or savory. For as long as I can remember my grandma and I would bake cookies and goodies for the holidays for family and friends. My grandma is particularly known for her sugar cookies and fudge, whose recipes were passed down from my great grandma. I would tediously plan the line up, along with those special people in my life who would receive such yumminess. Baking all day and night, I was perfectly content, although exhausted and relieved when they were all finally wrapped and sent.

My fiancee Chris and I decided to give tins to family and friends filled with a variety of festive homemade treats again this year. Usually there are always a couple tried and true recipes that everyone loves and are requested year after year. This would include the pumpkin chocolate chip squares and maple spice cookies from martha stewart and CookingLight, respectively. We also tried to make two new items this year, including peanut butter peanut brittle from a fellow R.D. friend and chewy chocolate chip gingerbread cookies from Martha Stewart.

Even though the holidays are filled with goodies that are usually high in calories that can expand our waste lines, just remember moderation and activity are key. We don't want to deprive ourselves or attempt to lose weight during the holidays because that just sets us up for failure and disappointment with ourselves. We need to think of our calories as a budget, so if we decide to indulge on a couple cookies, maybe skip that glass of wine and go for a nice long brisk walk instead. Don't let yourself get discouraged and give up trying to eat healthy all together. If you have one mishap (say have your pie and eat it too) don't throw it all out the window, just get back on track. Every day there is a choice we make and every day is a fresh chapter to health. So go ahead and have the holiday goodies, but make sure you keep on track, stay focused with portion control, fit in some activity and have fun with family and friends! That's really what the holidays are about, right?

If you ever need some great recipes for holiday goodies to give out to family and friends these are some great ones that we and our family enjoy very much!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Maple-Walnut Spice Cookies

Here is a picture of Chris and I doing some quality control . . .


Low and Slow

Hello! and welcome to my new blog. My name is Kristen and I am a Registered Dietitian who loves everything food. This blogging thing is new to me so bear with me through the glitches and boring page layout until I figure out how this thing works. I hope I can give some great, healthy meal ideas and show you that eating healthy doesn't have to be terrible. Eating healthier really has to be a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix. Simple changes made every day can add up to make a big difference. One must realize that they can't wait till after the holidays or after anything to start eating better . . . the time is NOW! Just do it! Along with my favorite recipes and nutrition tidbits, I will post food experiences and travels that I encounter, with good wine and restaurants to try in the Las Vegas area. Enjoy!!

I absolutely love my slow cooker this time of year. All you have to do is throw some simple, economical ingredients in before heading out in the morning and you can return home to a warm, satisfying meal that is already basically done! It is also a really great way to cook lean and cheaper cuts of meat that need a long time to tenderize. One of my favorites is one adapted from Martha Stewart called Chili Chicken Tacos. Simply cook the meat in the slow cooker and add to a nice crispy corn tortilla along with your favorite taco toppings. There will be more slow cooker recipes to come . . .

Slow-Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 8 1/4 hours


Serves 4-6

  • 1 standard package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup prepared tomato salsa or any favorite red or green salsa (I use mild)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo (careful these are hot)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Hard corn taco shells
  • Cilantro, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and non-fat greek yogurt for serving (or sour cream), etc.


  1. In slow cooker, combine chicken (trimmed of excess fat), garlic, salsa, chiles, chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cover; cook on low, 8 hours being careful that sugar doesn't burn.
  2. Shred chicken in slow cooker, using two forks. Serve in taco shells, with toppings, if desired.
  3. Use leftovers for quesadillas, taco salad, Mexican rice, etc. or you can freeze some in an airtight container for a quick meal later. I want to try to use this as a filling for tamales in the future.
Sorry there are not nutrition facts for this one. I am saving to purchase a nutrient analysis software so I can give you the exact values. I don't really think you should count calories in exact values, but really eat mindfully and stop when you are full. It takes 20 minutes for our minds to register satiety.

Portion suggestion: Two corn tacos with about 4 oz of meat, 1/4 cup of low-fat cheese and 1/4 cup greek yogurt would be approximately 400-450 kcals depending on the portion size.