Snackage: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Hello People!

Yum, yum, yum & yum! This is all you will say when you try this recipe. It is one of my favorites. It’s up there with my delicious Hummus recipe as “Wow! This is amazing!” I hope you can try it out. It can not only be used as the classic dip with crackers and/or vegetables, but it can also be used as a vegetarian filling for wraps or sandwiches. You could have it with eggs, or even stirred into some other type of sautéed vegetable you are having for dinner. Or how about mixed into your favorite type of pasta? Go crazy with it because it is delicious! I can’t get over how low calorie it is too.

Note: This serves 20; I often change up the cheese on top depending on mood; I highly suggest the use of organic products when it comes to dairy; and grate your own cheeses for optimum flavor, especially parmesan.

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Spinach & Artichoke Dip

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray or 2 tsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped  White or Brown Onion
  • 2, 10-oz packages of Frozen Spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry; chopped
  • 1, 8-oz package of Non-Fat Cream Cheese
  • 1, 8-oz carton of Light Sour Cream
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1, 14-oz can Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
  • pinch of Red Pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Reduced Fat Jack Cheese, shredded

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  1. Lightly coat a skillet with cooking spray or olive oil. Cook and stir onion over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add spinach; cook until thoroughly heated, 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat and add cream cheese.  Stir until melted and smooth.
  4. Stir in sour cream, parmesan cheese and artichokes; heat through another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and season with peppers and salt to taste.
  6. Dump mixture into a microwave safe dish and top with grated jack cheese and heat until cheese melts.

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Recipe from: Shape Magazine, June 2000 created by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist in Irvine, CA

Total Calories for Whole Recipe: 1,506

Per Serving: (4 Tablespoons or 1/4 cup) cals 75, 38% fat (3.1 g; 2.2 saturated), 25% carbs (20 g), 8 g fiber

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Challenge Video #2

Hello People!

I have another installment in my video series: Challenge Videos.  This one is about eating as much of the colorful fruits and vegetables as you can swallow each day.  Usually, on most diet plans, vegetables (provided they aren’t root veggies) are considered “free” foods or the calories aren’t really counted because for the most part they don’t have too many per serving.  Fruits, do have some calories, but I don’t think it hurts a person to eat at least 2 pieces or servings a day.  It’s certainly better than having a bag of cheetos!

Consider these numbers:

  • 1 whole raw Onion = 40 cals
  • 1 medium Bell Pepper = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup of Sauerkraut = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup of cooked Spinach = 20 cals
  • 1/2 cup of raw sliced Summer Squash = 13 / cooked = 18
  • 10 sprigs of Watercress = 10 cals
  • 1 medium 5 oz. Tomato = 35 cals
  • 1/2 cup of Turnips = 15 cals / Greens = 15
  • 1 cup of Lettuce (all types) = 10 cals
  • 1/2 raw Mushrooms = 10 cals / cooked = 20
  • 1 medium raw Carrot = 33 cals
  • 3 oz. cooked Cauliflower = 15 cals
  • 1 stalk of Celery = 5 cals
  • 2 oz. of Fennel = 10 cals
  • 1 whole Cucumber = 40 cals
  • 1/2 cup of Collard Greens = 15 cals
  • 1/2 cup Green Beans or Snap Beans = 20 cals
  • 1/2 cup cooked Broccoli = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup cooked Beets = 25 cals
  • 1 whole Eggplant, 4.5 oz. = 40 cals
  • 1/2 cup raw Jicama = 25 cals
  • 1/2 cup Kale = 20 cals

Shall I go on?  You can see from this list that the numbers are low and that’s for full servings.  Remember too, that when you cook something like mushrooms or squash, the water leeches out in the cooking process making the total weight smaller after cooking, so you can eat more of cooked vegetables than raw per serving.  See any you want to try tonight?

P.S. Sometimes, to add more vegetable and fruits into my diet, I make a green smoothie that I’ll show you how I make in another post.

Meal Snapshot: Black Bean Burger

Hello People!

I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I would show you a pix of a recent meal I had/made of a black bean burger recipe. Here is the final product.  It was paired with a salad with Ceasar dressing that I bought from the grocery store.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the taste was good, but the burger fell apart when eating making a giant mess.  Oh well, more recipes for me to try to perfect it!

A Yummy Lunch!

A Yummy Lunch!

Soda Replacement

Heeeeeeyyyyy!

It’s been almost 2 months since my last post and I am back with more arsenal in my bag of tricks to help us all be motivated to lose weight!  I didn’t forget you, in fact, I thought of you almost every day; but I was sort of doing-my-own-thing in regards to eating.  Now that the holidays are over, well, almost (Sunday is my birthday, the 5th), I am can be more focused on losing weight rather than fighting the process while eating out with friends and family one too many times.

During that duration of free-wheel, but conscious, eating, I lost 2 pounds!  Ha ha! I was happy that “relaxing my intentions” (post to come on that topic) made it easier to lose.  My total pound loss for last year was 7 pounds.  Not a total fail, but not a total success when you realize I was hoping for 28 pounds to be lost.  It will be lost this year, not going to go through that again.  But, more on that tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Today I have “the best” recipe for Iced Tea!  This is a common drink among dieters.  Some would argue that anything with caffeine is bad and should therefore be shunned.  I think it’s ok.  This is specifically a recipe for Iced Green Tea (which I normally don’t like) and that has been proven to have many beneficial elements in it.  It is lightly sweetened with honey, but you don’t have to sweeten it; or you could add some stevia to it if you like stevia. I brew a fresh pot every other day, depending on how many cups I drink.  My friends like it too when they visit.  I got it from the magazine Prevention in their June 2013 edition.

Note: if you like black tea (I do), then halve the bags (only 5) and double the honey as this can get very bitter if brewed too strongly.  Experiment with different mixtures of teas too.  I often have orphans of tea bags laying around that in combination with other teas taste great. Do I need to mention that soda/diet soda is bad?  Don’t think so.  This recipe can help ween you off the chemical laden nonsense.

ICED LEMON-GINGER GREEN TEA

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  • combine 10 green or oolong tea bags, 2″ piece of peeled fresh ginger cut into thin slices, 3 large mint sprigs, and 1 sliced small lemon in a heatproof 2 qt pitcher.
  • bring 4 cups water to a boil in saucepan or tea kettle and pour into pitcher.
  • stir once and let tea bags steep 6 minutes.
  • remove and discard tea bags and mint sprigs.
  • add a touch of honey to tea, if desired (I use a Tablespoon of Manuka)
  • let cool 20 minutes.
  • add enough ice and cold water to make 6 cups (or eyeball like I do!)
  • serve over ice in glasses with fresh mint sprigs and lemon slices

Enjoy and share with your friends!

Snackage: Restaurant Style Hummus

Restaurant Style Hummus

This is the Artichoke version

This is the Artichoke version

So today’s post is about the yummiest of hummus recipes.  It’s not the ingredients that make this recipe so amazing, it’s the process of pureeing the ingredients together that creates a heavenly texture. Believe me when I say “this is the best recipe you will find for hummus – EVER!”  I have made this for friends and family and it has been gobbled up in no time flat.  If you don’t like hummus, then I guess this isn’t the post for you and you probably aren’t reading it in the first place!  Those of us who adore hummus probably already know of it’s great health benefits being that it is made from garbanzo beans ( a superfood, nonetheless), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and other good things.

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Here is the ingredient list:

  • 3 Tbsp juice from 1 to 2 Lemons
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 6 Tbsp Tahini, stirred well
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 (14 oz) can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small Garlic Clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp Table Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves

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Here’s how to make it:

  1. Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl or measuring cup.  Whisk together tahini and 2 Tbsp oil in second small bowl or measuring cup.  set aside 2 Tbsp chickpeas for garnish.
  2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds (picture A).  Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.  With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube (picture B).  Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute.  with machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed (picture C). Do not stop machine to add the wet ingredients!!!
  3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro and/or parsley over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes.  Drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
picture A

picture A

picture B

picture B

picture C

picture C

I want to mention that this a recipe for Plain Hummus (but not plain, I can assure you!).  You can add to this basic recipe whatever extra flavors tickle your fancy.  Add artichokes – drained and chopped, roasted garlic, smoked paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, curry…etc.  This is a never ending bowl of happiness right here!  Just make sure if you are counting calories to limit your helpings.  I usually eat between 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup at a time, depending on the size of my snack/meal. I allot 70 calories to 2 Tbsp.

Recipe stolen from: Cook’s Illustrated magazine; May/June 2008 edition

Homemade Protein Bars

Foodie Friday: Homemade Protein Bars

Hello People!

I was just wandering around YouTube (go figure), and I came across these yummy looking gluten-free Protein Bars by Rob Riches, who in my opinion is yummier than the bars, but who cares.

I have yet to try them, but I will be.  I’ll let you know how they taste for REAL!

Superfood: Spirulina

Foodie Friday: Spirulina Supplements

Hello People!

I just bought my first bottle of Spirulina the other day.  My feelings about it have been mixed.  It isn’t really a food, it isn’t really a snack, it isn’t really a treat: it’s a supplement.  I think supplements are nice, but……not entirely necessary.  They are meant to supplement an already healthy life style and just give your system a healthy kick in the pants.  I also see supplements as a sort of insurance policy against the environment and genetic pre-dispositions.  They can help ward off illness and sicknesses that you may be prone to getting without them.

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So what exactly is Spirulina and why would I want to ingest such an odd thing?  First off, let me say that my source of info is from an app I bought for my iPad called “Superfood HD”.  It has come in handy for several things and I think it tells the truth.  If you don’t believe the claims that I list here, you are always welcome to research them yourself and let me know if you find anything different. I would really want to know!  So far, I trust this source. Here are the claims:

SPIRULINA

  • It packs more concentrated vegetable nutrition than any other whole food known
  • It has the most complete assortment of nutrients and health promoting properties of any food known to man
  • Was used as a food source for the Aztecs until the 16th century
  • Has been used in the country of Chad as far back as the 9th century
  • It contains 60% protein
  • It is a complete protein in that it contains all essential amino acids, making it superior to typical plant protein
  • It has the potential to reverse the advance of viral infections, herpes in particular
  • It stimulates the immune system to increase the number of natural killer cells, macrophages, and T-cells; all of these cells work to specifically pinpoint and eradicate foreign pathogens and viruses
  • Purifies the blood by increasing the oxygen carrying capabilities of the blood due to a high concentration of phycocyanin and chlorophyll
  • Has a powerful source of Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), a long-chain Omega-6 fatty acid, which the body uses to reduce inflammation associated w/ pain in the joints, to grow lush, thick hair, build stronger nails and beautiful supple skin
  • Is very high in the amino acids (sulphur based) Cysteine and Methionine. These are protein building blocks that help the liver and nervous system remove toxins from the body quickly and without further damage.
  • It can cleanse and create a detoxification of our bodies from causes of stress
  • Best source of vitamin B-12 *
  • Contains 10 times more beta-carotene than carrots
  • Easy to digest **

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* I have heard that this form of B-12 is unavailable to our bodies because in its form in the algae it cannot be broken down in our bodies, therefore de-bunking the myth that vegans and vegetarians hold for getting this essential vitamin without the need for eating animal products (the only source of B-12 that our bodies can digest and use and is essential for life; without it the side-effects are nasty and usually develop over time after many years of depletion).

** From what I have experienced, I would not recommend taking the dose recommended on the package at first.  Build up to it over time.  There is a bit of bowel grumbling and gas in the beginning, but supposedly wears off over time.  It also can make a person constipated – EW!

So, I have a bottle and it says to take 6 tablets a day.  It doesn’t indicate all at once or in 2 tablet increments.  I am only on 1 a day and will work from there.  With all of those claims listed above, it seems a shame not take advantage of something so powerfully amazing.  One more claim, I also heard that it was used in the treatment of burn and explosion victims in Chernobyl. Enough said.

Health Nut: Pro-Biotics

Foodie Friday: Homemade Pro-Biotics

Hello People,

So, last year, summer, I was super preoccupied with holistic concepts.  I became smitten with anything regarding living extremely health-nutty.  You know, those granola-half naked people on YouTube who do water fasts and only eat fruit for 2 months? Yeah, I was watching their videos with abandon, absorbing all of their advice and enthusiasm for living an extreme lifestyle. I learned many a good thing from them.  While I can’t say I will be going raw vegan anytime soon (or never), I think that most of what they practice is great.  Think about it, we all could benefit from adding more vegetables and fruits into our diet.  Letting our bodies rest from digesting high amounts of  saturated-fat laden animal protein once in a while seems like a wise idea.

One of the major take-aways I learned was from a former raw vegan master named Natasha.  She then lived in cold Canada, now she lives in the tropics of Thailand.  I watched every video on her YouTube channel and loved every one of them.  She made me feel the most inspired to eat and live better. One of her videos talked about pro-biotics and how great they are.  As a raw vegan (one who eats only raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds), she did not eat dairy; which is where most of the population gets their pro-biotics, in the form of yogurt. She was not a fan of the oft used Kombucha by vegans, which is a fermented tea product made of fungus, because it is usually full of white processed sugar.  So, she resorted to other ways to get her pro-biotics.  Creating something she called “Fermented Coconut Water” became something that I rely on as I am dairy intolerant. She also has a video on live kefir globs, but I can’t go there.

The best and most optimal way of doing this is by breaking open a raw coconut and draining the liquid into a jar or container.  This is the most natural way of getting the sweet juice.  ALL store bought coconut water has been “flash pasteurized” to kill any critters (spoilage-type bacteria) running around before it is mass marketed. This means that the coconut water has been tampered a bit with heat and does not contain all of the pure nutrients in it as the liquid straight from the nut has. In a sense, some of the good stuff has been cooked out.  Do what you need to do. I use both raw nuts and store bought water depending on what is available. If you use a raw coconut, you will also be stuck with the meat or fat of the fruit.  You can use it for lots of things (after you painstakingly pick out the bits of shell lodged in it), but I like a little of it in smoothies. Don’t use a lot or you will make yourself sick! I use the white, cone shaped coconuts.

Also, you must use pro-biotic pills/tablets that are REFRIGERATED! Do not use the stuff on the dry shelf.  It is dead and completely useless. The way this works is sort of like fermenting alcohol, or exactly like it.  You combine a sugar in liquid form to a yeast and it becomes fermented.  The remaining juice is a transient pro-biotic, meaning that you have to take it every day in order for it to be effective.  The live bacteria that you swallow help with digestion in your gut and help you absorb more of the food you are eating. Don’t be surprised if at first you hear a little rumbling in your bowels the first few times.  I swallow a 1/4 cup each morning.  It tastes terrible (tart), but the benefits are worth it.

prep ingredients

prep ingredients

Recipe:

1 1/2 cups Coconut Water

1 Capsule of Store Bought Pro-Biotic

1 Glass Jar

Pour C.Water into jar. Open capsule and dump powder into C. Water. Seal lid tightly. Place in warm area for 3 days (do not refrigerate or the bacteria will not multiply). Place in refrigerator after 3 days and drink 1/4 cup before breakfast every day.

Also can be put into green juice and smoothies.

drink till your gut's content!

drink till your gut’s content!

Super Food: Eggs

Today’s Foodie Friday Post:

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Unless you are a vegan, I don’t know what diet in the world doesn’t support the eating of awesome eggs! They are a tiny gem of nutritional importance.  Here is what the WebMD article that I have been quoting from lately has to say about them:

Eggs make the list because they are nutritious, versatile, economical, and a great way to fill up on quality protein. “Studies show if you eat eggs at breakfast, you may eat fewer calories during the day and lose weight without significantly affecting cholesterol levels,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Eggs also contain 12 vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory. Enjoy them at any meal or hard-cooked as a portable snack.”

That’s pretty much how I like them best, as a portable snack barely hard boiled. I put them in a pot of cold water, put the lid on and turn the heat to high. When I hear the water boiling, I remove the lid and let it simmer (turn down heat) for 4-5 minutes. Then I take them out and run them under cold water if I want to eat them immediately or let them sit on the counter and cool for a bit. Throw it in a baggie and then your lunch box and out the door.

I do have to admit that about at age 35 I unfortunately developed some weird digestion issues with all types of foods. Suddenly dairy, beans, cruciferous veggies and eggs became a bit hard on my G.I. tract. So, to counteract this problem, I only eat one egg at a time and I must have it with other types of foods to help aid in digestion. Too much info? Just thought you might want to know if it starts happening to you. It sucks that as you age these things happen, but what can I say about that? Perhaps I should share my homemade pro-biotic made from NO DAIRY.

Here are some other ways I enjoy eggs in the morning:

MASALA OMELETTE  on TOAST   (adapted from the cookbook: Nigella Bites)
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Ingredients: 1 tsp vegetable oil; 1 scallion, sliced finely; 1-2 chilies to taste, red or green; 1/2 – 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated; 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground coriander; 1 tsp ground cumin; 2 -3 eggs, beaten; freshly chopped cilantro for sprinkling over; toast, 1 oz. asiago cheese

Heat the oil in a frying pan; sauté the scallion, chilies and garlic for a few minutes until soft; add the spices to activate in the oil about 30 seconds; add the beaten eggs and gently stir with a rubber spatula; turn out onto a cutting board and slice according to how much you want (or have the whole thing!); meanwhile toast bread and then under broiler, melt cheese; place omelette on top and sprinkle with cilantro. Serves 1

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FRIED EGG on TOAST with AVOCADO & CANADIAN BACON

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Ingredients: 1 slice sourdough bread; 1/4 – 1/2 avocado sliced, 2 slice canadian bacon, 1 egg, 1 tsp butter

Toast bread; heat a small pan with no oil, add canadian bacon and dry fry for about 2 minutes flipping over halfway through; remove from pan when heated;  add butter to pan and fry egg sunny side up; spread avocado on toast, layer with bacon and then egg. Serves 1 (You can substitute hummus for avocado which I think is even better!)

Snackage: Roasted Chickpeas

Today’s Foodie Friday Post:

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Superfoods are great, but snacks are even better!!! (IMO) So to take a break from the same-old same-old, let’s talk about what to snack on that tastes good and is nutritious for the most part.  I should say up front that while I do understand that there are health folks who bark “NO SALT!” wherever they go, I am not one of them.  I don’t think EXCESS salt is a good idea, but 1,500 mg. is hard for me and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Now the good part…have you tried these nummy little nuggets of happiness? I got them, I think, at my local Fresh & Easy (soooooo sad they are leaving! 😦 Boo!) the other day and they are the bee’s knees of yumminess. the Good bean Roasted Chickpeas are: “Lightly dusted with Course Salt” it claims on the front.  They are nicely packed with fiber as they are a bean at their heart (6 grams), and filling due to that bonus. You know they must be good if there is a pix of someone standing on their head about them on the package (jk). I think you should try them with your morning coffee/tea break like I do.

P.S. This IS a Superfood! No really, it is!