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From Our Blog

Mac & Cheese

Mac And Cheese

A lightened-up version of my childhood favorite boxed pasta.

Prep Time 20 min

Cook Time 10 min

Total Time 30 min

Ingredients

 

12 oz whole wheat shell pasta
2 cups pureed cauliflower (small head of cauliflower, 2 tbsps water)
1/4 c plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c fat-free evaporated milk
1 c sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
Instructions
Cook pasta according to box directions.
Steam chopped cauliflower in about 2 tbsp water until tender.
Blend cauliflower and cooking liquid in food processor or high speed blended until smooth.
Add evaporated milk and Greek yogurt, pulse until incorporated.
Cook this cauliflower and dairy mixture in saucepan over low-medium heat.
Whisk in cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Mix cooked pasta into cauliflower cheese sauce.
Serve! (sprinkle paprika and parmesan cheese for added flavor)

Lightened Up Shamrock Shake

I’m really excited to share my lightened-up shamrock shake recipe. I hope you enjoy it almost as much as I have. Back to smoothie junk, I’d have a smoothie almost every day of my life for breakfast if I had more time in the morning. I have to be to work by the butt-crack of dawn most days, and the thought of the earth shattering crank of my Blendtec makes me cringe. Aren’t I just the best roommate/neighbor for not waking everyone up to meet my smoothie need? So, on late days, when I don’t exercise first thing, I glory in my opportunity to indulge in my fave breakfast! This shamrock shake is high enough in protein and has some fiber, making it a great breakfast (or you can add chocolate to make it more of a dessert-my choice!).

Here are some add-ins that make smoothies (and this smoothie) bomb!

Spinach: have you tried it? It does change the color (for better or for worse-your preference), but I feel like it really mellows out the acid in the berries I always add. It’s a great way to get veggies in and to make the ingredients really meld
Banana: does wonders to smooth out the flavor & texture. Like the spinach, it mellows out the flavors, but it’s so creamy and smooth-it does just the same to the consistency. Plus it’s better than ice cream because bananas don’t melt!
Flaxseed: why not look for ways to increase omega-3s? Even better, it doesn’t change the flavor!
Oatmeal: just like the banana, it adds texture to smoothies. Also, if you need to thicken your smoothie up throw in some rolled oats! They add fiber and don’t really change your smoothie’s flavor.
Greek yogurt: I ALWAYS add a big spoonful (or 2) of plain/flavored Greek yogurt. Like the oats, it adds great body to your smoothie, but it also adds probiotics, calcium, and protein. All of which are great to start out your day with!
Lightened-up Shamrock Shake.
Without further ado, here’s your golden ticket to enjoy a tasty and smooth Shamrock Shake without all the extra calories, fat, and unknown ingredients. Plus, I’ll throw in extra protein & nutrients for fun!

Lightened-up Shamrock Shake
Yields 2
A light, refreshing, and healthy take on the traditional St Patrick’s Day Shamrock Shake. Plus, there’s no sugar added to this shake.
Write a reviewSave RecipePrint
Prep Time5 min Total Time5 min
Ingredients
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 cup milk
Large handful of spinach
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon flaxseed
Handful dark chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
Add all ingredients to blender, blend until smooth
Notes
Top with whipped cream or green sprinkles for the full effect!

Open Faced Zucchini Toast

Open-Faced Zucchini Toast

Win the dinner game with this simple & delicious open faced zucchini toast!

Are you in need of a really simple and so so delicious dinner? If so, it’s your lucky day for you have this open-faced zucchini toast. This refreshing toast is the perfect vehicle to get your veggies in in the most delicious way. You’re welcome.

It’s been almost a couple months since I came home with a few too many zucchinis. What’s someone to do when all the zucchinis look delicious and they’re 4 for $1. I mean c’mon! Anyways, I came home from the farmers market with a bag full of corn, zucchini, and a majorly growling stomach. Luckily, I’d seen lots of delicious looking zucchini ribbon pizzas, and decided to try my hat at throwing zucchini, corn, and olive oil on toast and covering it with some fresh mozzarella. I mean c’mon…. again. And here is where the open-faced zucchini toast was born.

Open Faced Zucchini Toast
Serves 2
Top your favorite bread with some farm fresh produce for a lite and delicious quick dinner
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 slices bread
  2. 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  3. 1/2 cup corn kernels
  4. 2 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  5. Extra virgin olive oil
  6. Sprinkle garlic salt
  7. Freshly ground pepper
  8. Handful julienned basil
Instructions
  1. Set oven on broil
  2. Place slices of bread on tin foil
  3. Cover bread with zucchini slices and corn kernels
  4. Place mozzarella on top of vegetables
  5. Broil until cheese is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes (depending on how long oven has heated)
  6. When sandwich is toasted, remove from oven.
  7. Add light drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, and fresh basil right before serving.
Notes
  1. I love this on a thinly sliced baguette, but your favorite type of bread will work great!
Natural Ways

Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen Can Make Healthy Eating A Snap

Ok, my finals are officially over and life can continue. Sorry (really not sorry) for dragging you along my time warp as I enter real life once again. Now that we’re well into May, I’m excited to introduce you to our May Challenge: Spring Cleaning your Kitchen! You’ll hear from my talented designer mother this week, and me next week! She will give you tips to create your dream kitchen and I will focus on more budget friendly non-remodel tips from my experiences living in too many apartments over the past 8 years.

A little confession… while most of my friends are dreaming of babies & marriage, I dream of home ownership & a major kitchen overhaul. Majorly. Now not that I don’t want a husband & baby, honestly a beautiful white kitchen in my own house seems more attainable than the former. Coming from a savvy interior designer mom and being a food & eating obsessed dietitian certainly predisposes me to this severe kitchen obsession.

One of my favorite projects in my dietetics program was to redistribute items in my apartment kitchen to improve organization and flow. I was in hog freaking heaven. I seriously would love going into people’s homes & reorganizing their kitchens to set the scene for healthy cooking & eating. Maybe when I’m done with my grad program… which will be in just 1 short year!!! In the mean time I’ll dream of reorganizing others’ kitchens & my own future Scandinavian kitchen

my family would likely argue that I am not an organized person, but I’d like to disagree & share my need for organization in my life. My deepest parts strive for a streamlined life, for things to be simple and easy. For my life to run smoothly, and to not forget everything I have going on, life needs to be organized to enable the cards to fall as they do. Organizing my school, my pantry, my closet, and my phone have set me up for success. Or something like that!

So when it comes to eating well, and practicing what I preach what seems like all the freaking time (again dietitian status here), I have to make that eating healthy business a part of my every day business and take the most of the thought out of it. Meal planning + an organized kitchen are my tools, guys.

Meal planning helps reduce those blank starvation propelled times staring in front of  the fridge, and quick reaches for less nutrient dense foods. But that’s not the topic for the day.

A well organized kitchen can make eating healthier possible by keeping healthy foods visible and less healthy foods, well, less visible, it can make cooking less of a headache and can allow you to have all the tools needed to make a delicious meal day in and day out. Taking the headache out of the cooking process is so important!

So whether you’re investigating for a kitchen remodel or a new move, or if you’re looking to de-clutter your kitchen drawers, we can talk about ways to do it in a way to help you eat healthier!

My mom studied interior design in college and worked at the premier interior design firm in Salt Lake City for years. She has excellent taste obviously! Here are a few of the techniques she used when remodeling her kitchen in her main residence and also in her Salt Lake condo, where I lived and photographed until a few months ago.

I was asked me to share a few ideas on kitchen organization that will help make food preparation more efficient. This is important for me for three reasons.

The first being I really enjoy cooking. It all began in my childhood watching Julia Child, she not only made cooking fun but I learned proper technique at a young age.

The second reason is my belief that family dinners are important. Not only do you hear about everyone’s day you also enjoy a homemade meal. A great family bonding time and usually, never a dull moment.

And last, but just as important, is that meals prepared at home are more nutritious. I not only know exactly what was added to a dish, but I can include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to our plates. My main complaint about any meal at a restaurant. Forget “Where’s the beef” for me it’s “Where’s the veggies”.

So here are my tips to make food preparation more enjoyable and efficient. 2007 was a big year. Rebecca headed off to college and it was time for a kitchen remodel.One of my biggest pet peeves in my kitchen was the pots and pans lid clutter. So my solution was to divide the pots,pans and lids therefore conquering the clutter. This pull out cabinet, on each side of the range allows me to grab the needed pan and quickly find the matching lid from the divided lower rack. Best idea ever

In this same area above the range for easy access are the spices.  A perfect spot for a Lazy Susan or a shallow drawer equipped with slanted dividers. Both make finding the needed spice a chinch. Seeds or flakes on the top and ground on the bottom. I don’t arrange them alphabetically, like my mom did; It can’t be expected of me or any one else to keep them alphabetized. But a quick spin and I have what I am looking for.

This is my idea of an appliance garage. Keeping the toaster, blender and microwave off the counter gives you more  space for preparation. Shut the cabinet doors and it is out of site, open up and you have everything you need to warm up leftovers, butter your morning toast, blend up a smoothie, pack a lunch, weigh an ingredient for the perfect portion, or look up a recipe

Canned goods can be another problem area. Not only are they difficult to keep organized they always seem to get placed on a deep shelf making finding what you need a bigger challenge.Try a shallow drawer. Nothing is out of site. A quick glance and you know exactly what you have, no need to plow through towers of cans.

Potatoes, garlic, shallots, and onions, and a cool, dry, dark spot. Why not next to the sink in a drawer. Not even a step away. The galvanized steel bins not only protect the drawer from the occasional bad potato but keep like items together.

When everything has a place it will be a breeze finding what you are looking for. Everyone knows this,  the challenge is to always put the item back in its place. A no brainier is to use divided trays.  The drawers are next to the sink and dishwasher. Making easy access when you need a scoop for chocolate chip cookies and just as easy to put away directly from the dishwasher into its appointed spot

Having what you need within reach makes any cooking task enjoyable and efficient. No need to run around the kitchen to make a cake or salsa. In my Salt Lake kitchen, the Kitchen Aid is on a pull up shelf, the hand mixer, and food processor in the drawer below are all together, mix away. Flour, sugars, oats, salt, leveling agents, chocolate chips, along with all the measuring cups and spoons are in an adjacent drawer to the mixing center. So are the baking sheets and pans in vertical slots. Whipping up a quick treat takes only a few minutes when all you need is in a designated baking, processing area.

Thanks to a well organized kitchen and early childhood weekly Julia Child cooking school, making nutritious meals for our family dinner is the most enjoyable time of my day.

We’d love to hear from you:

 

Blueberry Mojito Smoothie

I was approached by one of my favorite dietitian bloggers about participating in this wild blueberry smoothie contest a few weeks ago. I immediately knew I just HAD to make something mojito. I’m not a drinker, so I’ve never actually had a mojito, but it’s a gorgeous drink & I’ve been obsessed. Ever since that day just a few weeks ago, I’ve had my fridge stocked with frozen wild blueberries, fresh mint, and limes… they were just itching to be blended together into perfection. But then life got in the way, and good light time and loud blending time was in short supply, so I patiently waited.

Finally the day came and I was able to get to recipe testing. I had never used wild blueberries before, and by now I’m not sure if I can go back to regular frozen blueberries. Sure the wild ones are more expensive, but with their stronger flavor you don’t need to use as many to get that wonderful blueberry flavor in cooking. Also, the northwestern-er in me is loving these blueberries that taste a bit more like huckleberries. IN LOVE!

Ingredients
  1. 1c frozen wild blueberries
  2. 1 whole banana, fresh or frozen
  3. 1 tablespoon lime juice
  4. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  5. Handful spinach
  6. Handful fresh mint leaves
  7. 1 cup water (or more depending on desired smoothie thickness)
Instructions

 

Add all ingredients to blender, blend until combined

Notes

 

Optional garnishes: plain Greek yogurt, mint leave

 

     Wild blueberries > regular blueberries because…

 

  • They’ve got a More Intense Blueberry Flavor:Wild blueberries have a more intense flavor than regular blueberries. Wild Blueberry plants grow wild and are genetically diverse with thousands of interlocking plants spreading naturally across fields called barrens. It’s this diversity that gives Wild Blueberries their complex and delicious flavor — an extraordinary mix of tart and sweet.
  • Leader in Antioxidants:Wild Blueberries have twice (2x) the antioxidant capacity of larger cultivated blueberries. A growing body of research shows the potential health benefits of Wild Blueberries including gut health, diabetes, cancer and brain health.
  • Frozen at Harvest:The Wild Blueberry crop (99% of it) is frozen. These potent little berries are individually quick frozen (IQF) at harvest locking in their nutrition and taste. It’s nature’s pause button.
  • Unique Heritage:Wild Blueberries come from a special place. They are called “Wild” because they are. Wild Blueberries are not planted and occur naturally in barrens and fields in Maine and Eastern Canada that have been here for 10,000 years

 

 

Natural Ways

Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Our body is a marvel of nature. Millions of cells, muscles and tendons make up this marvel, and we cannot help but appreciate all that our body is to us. Our body is our home and it is incredibly important for us to take care of this home in every possible way. Do not take your body for granted, or your future could start looking very bleak. One of the most important ways to keep your health and vitals in check is by keeping tabs on your cholesterol level. Now, not many of us might know about this, but cholesterol is of two types-good and bad. And while we must keep the good cholesterol at its optimum level, it is important that we lower the bad cholesterol to stay healthy and fit. And we shall now look into the ways to do the same.

Monosaturated Fats are Good for You:

Monosaturated Fats are Good for You

Like we discussed a bit in the earlier section, some types of cholesterol are good for us, and monosaturated fats happen to one of those types. Eat more of nuts, avocados and olive oil to stock up on monosaturated fats. The monosaturated fats will help you in building the good cholesterol, that is, high-density lipoprotein, and reduce the LDL, that is, low-density lipoprotein.

Go for Omega-3s:

Omega-3s is found in abundance in seafood like salmon and mackerel, and it is extremely vital to maintain our heart health. Therefore, you must include more of these in your diet. Certain types of vegetable oils and butter have a high content of Omega-3s, and you must go more for these.

Cut Down Trans Fat:

Trans fats are usually found in vegetable oil and some kinds of butter and must be avoided as much as possible. These fats are made by the process of hydrogenation and are quite harmful to health. So avoid them to lower your cholesterol. Labels on grocery items could be quite misleading when you go shopping. They might suggest that the trans fats added in the items will help in keeping your heart healthy. But, you must know better.

 

Soluble Fibres are Good for Health:

Soluble fibres are not made to be digested by human bodies. But they can be digested by human beings due to the probiotics present in the bodies. These kind of fibres help in lowering lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins and keep your overall cholesterol level in check.

Finally!

You must include more organic vegetables and fruits in your diet, and try to avoid red meat as much as possible. Maintaining proper diet and regular exercise is imperative to keeping your cholesterol in check. With this, and the tips that we have provided in the article, you can live a healthy and wholesome life.

healthy

Nourished Week March 16-20

This may not seem particularly nourishing, but taking a stand and being bold in our convictions is completely nourishing… Early this week, the New York Times posted an article about the new Kids Eat Right emblem on Kraft Singles (here it is). Although the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics has issued a statement reiterating the fact that this emblem indicates that Kraft supports Kids Eat Right (and not that the Academy endorses Kraft Singles as a healthy choice). Unfortunately, the damage has been done, dietitians and the health community are crying foul. Along with other dietitians in my circles, I was pissed (intentional strong-ish language). What the Academy doesn’t seem to get is that public & health professionals’ perception is reality, not their intention. I wasn’t planning on writing about this because so many other RD bloggers already gave their 2 cents, and I didn’t think I had anything to add to it. After having my life contemplation time while showering (true story), I’ve gathered my thoughts & have a new point to make about the whole fiasco!

I honestly kinda feel like I’m reprimanding my wise grandmother here, but when she goes ahead and makes a decision that will affect my whole family without any sort of input (but she really wouldn’t), you just gotta do what you gotta do.

I get it, we all need money to keep the research, resources, and publicity going. For myself, as a dietitian, I’ve put many years into my education and practice to be worthy of being a part of this great group founded on research and experience, I feel it is my duty to uphold the standards of the organization & to keep the good name (of a dietitian) that many have worked so hard to obtain. I could make money by endorsing (excuse me, by talking) about products or ideologies I do not follow or internally endorse. But I DON’T. We’ve all worked too hard to get here, and selling ourselves for that isn’t worth it-to me at least. Unfortunately, the Academy has misstepped and, regardless of intent, has “endorsed” fake cheese, that is enriched with calcium & Vitamin D (which is it’s only redeeming quality). I mean, are they going to “endorse” BigMac’s next because they have lettuce, onion, and tomato-which are all healthy?

The reality of this is that perception rules. In my behavior change classes we continually discuss the difference between intent & perception. If what we, as health educators, say comes off as rude to a client, it’s rude, doesn’t matter what our intent was. The purpose of communicating is to share a message with a certain audience, this emblem shares the message that Kraft Singles are healthy and that parents should buy them for their kids because “Kids Eat Right”. Is that really what the Academy & dietitians within the Academy want to communicate to the target audience?

Fitspiration

The Ugly Truth About Fitspiration

Everywhere we look, we’re surrounded by images of chiseled abs with some inspirational quote about how you have to exercise real hard to love yourself. Because you deserve it, and you can’t waste your body. Unfortunately, there are many detrimental effects from this seemingly motivational rhetoric.

  • I’m not petite
  • I’m not a mom
  • I don’t care

Are those enough excuses? If a hot bod makes Maria Kang happy, that’s fine, but there are so many things that make me happy that don’t have anything to do with the way I look. BTW, has someone asked her how long she has to exercise each day to achieve this physique, or if she has to follow a very strict diet to look this way? Those aren’t necessarily priorities for many people (including me), so that’s another excuse. Oh, and those kids are adorable!

See what I mean, someone can see this and think that if she can do it, I should be able to. But we all have different priorities, genetics, and bodies. Lexie and Lindsay Kite of BeautyRedefined.net say that these fitspiration images are really “shame-inducing, objectifying, and limiting ideals that keep women in their places as objects to be looked at above all else.”

A recent study  corroborates the shame-inducing aspect of fitspiration that the Kite sisters indicated. This study monitored 130 undergraduate women’s reactions to looking at Instagram pictures of fitspiration or of travel photos. This study indicates that the women who viewed the fitspiration photos experienced increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction and decreased state appearance self-esteem relative to travel images. With these women, the fitspiration left them less satisfied with themselves. Although dissatisfaction and negative personal views can be a powerful motivator, these views can lead to unhealthy means of achieving desired results and they may not be as long lasting as positive and internal motivations.

Mac & Cheese

Recipe Redux: Lightened-Up Mac & Cheese

Melanie & I are really excited to announce that we are new members of The Recipe Redux! This is a great group founded by Registered Dietitians, and comprises of food & nutrition bloggers who contribute a “lightened-up” recipe related to a specially themed monthly challenge.

Without further ado, this month’s theme was “a special food memory”. At first I was excited, but the daunting task of finding a recipe that was actually a recipe (not just boxed pudding, brauts, or s’mores cooked over a scented candle) and could actually be lightened-up was a more difficult task than I’d originally thought. Then, I remembered the mac & cheese saga from elementary school.

I had the best ever mac & cheese at a friends house in elementary school. My mom & I spent weeks trying different boxed mac & cheeses, but they were never that good-or really good at all. Finally, after actually asking my friend’s mom (who was also my neighbor-don’t ask why we didn’t think of this sooner) what mix they used… Finally, my family was introduced to Pasta Roni Shells & White Cheddar. Have you tried this pasta? It’s bomb. As an adult, I could (and have) eaten a whole box in one sitting. That processed cheesy pasta is pretty low in protein and fiber, so it’s pretty easy to eat a lot, get lots of calories, and not feel really satisfied.

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