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Monday
Aug252014

Final Flavors of Summer

I know that school starts next week and I should be writing back-to-school posts on kids healthy breakfasts and lunches, but I don't want to let go of summer. The weather has been divine, making it really sad to say goodbye. It didn't help when Weight Watchers sent more of their delicious ice cream treats in new flavors. I had written a positive review on their ice cream lineup in April because I was surprised by how rich the low calorie flavors tasted. 

Their new Divine Triple Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche bars are just as yummy at 110 and 120 calories each, respectively, and 5 grams of fat. The top part of the bars is coated with that familiar crisp chocolate shell, and the ice cream tastes rich and smooth. There are swirls of either chocolate or caramel blended throughout that make them an indulgence until the end. As with other Weight Watchers frozen treats, I appreciate the portion control. Dessert is best enjoyed as a light refreshment to end a meal, not a second meal! Even though the size doesn't seem like much according to our usual huge dessert standards, they don't taste low fat or low calorie so you can feel pretty satisfied with one serving. This brand and Skinny Cow are the most popular choices among my clients, and I'm definitely a fan as well!

Disclosure: I received Weight Watchers food samples for my honest review of the product.

Sunday
Aug102014

Cook Smarts: Making You an Expert on Veggies

Jess Dang contacted me recently to share her site Cook Smarts, a company whose mission is to help home cooks lead healthier lives and have great experiences in the kitchen. Dang believes that simple home cooked meals can be a source of health, happiness and community, so she created Cook Smarts to offer educational tools like infographics, how-to videos, recipes, and even a meal planning service. I'm sorry if the rest of this post sounds like one big ad but know that I wasn't paid; I just absolutely love the site and will be sharing it with everyone who needs a little veggie help or is intimidated by their kitchen.

First of all Dang's story is unbelievably inspirational. She contracted Hepatitis C as an infant from a blood tranfusion, but of which she was unaware until making a blood donation. The disease progressed until college when her doctors advised her to undergo a year of intensive treatment with debilitating side effects, or risk developing other severe conditions. She vowed that if she made it to age 30, she would do something to help others lead healthier lives. She is now 32 and carrying out her mission through Cook Smarts.

When I checked out the site, I immediately loved the easy to read infographics and videos that showcase vegetables. I'm a veggie freak (drool over them, crave them, seek out restaurants that serve them, etc.) but not many people grow up with fond memories of vegetables; even if they do it's usually only one or two special vegetables dishes. I love how Cook Smarts highlights all vegetables and gives you the basics on how to store and prepare each vegetable in just the right way so you bring out its best flavor. Below are a few examples, but check out the site that has dozens more free cooking resources. The meal planning service costs $8 per month, providing recipes that can be tailored to special needs (gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian), nutrition information for each recipe, short how-to videos, and grocery lists.

This guide shows when to buy veggies, how to cook them, and in what types of dishes they work best:

This one reminds you which ones to use first before they spoil: 

And one of my favorites, a chart for kids to track which veggies they've tasted and liked...or not! Ellyn Satter, an expert on childhood nutrition and picky eaters, says that it can take 15-20 exposures to a new food before a child will accept it. So don't give up after one sour face:

Finally, don't miss their helpful videos like this one on how to make a vinaigrette. I've been sharing a similar 60-second recipe with my clients that makes a tasty sodium-free salad dressing, marinade, or light sauce for plain rice or quinoa. I've tried so many salad dressings that are too fatty, too spicy or too saltyoverall just too overpowering for greens. This easy healthful dressing is light but perfectly enhances a salad, cooked vegetables or grains.

Thursday
Jul312014

A Homemade Version of Go Lean Crunch

Here's Alexa Aguiar's take on one of my favorite cereals. 

I've been craving something healthy and crunchy and thought I could replicate Kashi's "GOLEAN Crunch!" granola cereal. I also wanted it to have enough protein to sustain me throughout the day. So here's the recipehigh in protein, low in fat, and no sugar added (if using Stevia). It's going to be a new favorite of mine! 

I used TVP (textured vegetable protein), which I realize isn't a household ingredient but it provides a nice crunch and good protein content, and is inexpensive. Bob's Red Mill is the brand I used, purchased at Ocean State Job Lot for less than $3.

Cinnamon Crunch "Kashi" Granola Cereal 

Ingredients

1 cup TVP

4 cups puffed barley (may substitute gluten-free oats, puffed rice or puffed corn if desired)

2 T flax seeds

2 T chia seeds

1/4 cup sweetener (I used Stevia packets but maple syrup, honey, agave, and sugar would all work well)

1/2 tap salt

1 tap cinnamon

Any extras are up to you! Try nuts, dark chocolate, coconut, and seeds of your choice.

4 egg whites*

Directions

  1. Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix until incorporated.
  2. Whisk egg whites in a seperate bowl and add into the dry ingredients. Mix everything together.  
  3. Place on a foiled and oil-rubbed baking sheet and pat down firmly. Bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes, break apart and flip over granola to brown the other side for another 10-15 minutes.

*The egg white is the secret to chunks and clusters! Once baked, it is completely undetectable and acts as the binding agent rather than flour.

Makes 10 servings.