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Tropical Chex Mix (Gluten-Free)

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I went to a July Fourth potluck brunch at a childhood friend’s home. Almost everybody had brought something with blueberries in it: Fresh berries, blueberry sauce, blueberry juice, blueberry filling…the only thing without blueberries were plain hard-boiled eggs!

On that note, I thought that for this Fourth of July, I’d give you a recipe without a lick of red or blue in it. This Chex mix features tropical flavors that will be a hit on any holiday snack table. You can pack up any leftovers come Monday in your bag for work or as a snack for the kids. Enjoy!Tropical Chex Mix

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups Rice Chex
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup Dried Mango, cut intro strips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup Banana Chips
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flakes

Tropical Chex Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Pour coconut oil over Chex. Mix well and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Add mango, banana chips, coconut flakes, and nuts (if using) to Chex.
  3. Pour Chex with mix-ins into a large Ziploc bag and shake well to mix.
  4. Allow to cool on wax paper.

(Makes 16 ½ -cup servings)

Variations: For extra protein, add 1 cup macadamia nuts.

What are your favorite summer desserts? 

What to make this weekend: Breakfast!

overnight oats Fage 2%Happy Friday! Looking forward to the weekend? I’m working Sunday for a bit but am looking forward to a little pampering with a haircut and a massage on the agenda as well as catching up with some lady friends.

I always like to take a few minutes over the weekend to think about what meals to prep for, based on what the calendar has in store. My hours have had me eating breakfast at home s little more often, but having stuff ready to go makes it easier in the morning so I can focus instead on a workout and to-do list stuff.

I recently wrote an article for YouBeauty with some quick & easy healthy breakfast ideas. A lot of them can be made ahead of thrown together quickly. Enjoy!

Snack Girl’s Tuna Avocado Dip

Another dip recipe, I know. I’m just going to go with it, though. I think my current crazy schedule has me extra-enthusiastic about easy-t0-make everyday foods you can use in a variety of ways. Today’s recipe comes from Lisa Cain, Snack-Girl.com founder. I had to pleasure of meeting Lisa while in Minneapolis last month. After watching her in action (gotta love a lady who says what’s on her mind), I couldn’t wait to read her book. I spend a lot of time in a nutritionist bubble where everything is talked about in terms of macronutrients and calorie balance and grams and percentages and whatnot. This was a fun change of pace—super-approachable and really entertaining, while still being informative. Her recipes are easy to follow, feature ingredients you can get at any grocery store, and are delicious.

tuna avocado dipI couldn’t wait to try this avocado tuna dip. I left out the horseradish the original recipe calls for because I’m not the biggest fan, but if you want that extra kick, leave it in. You can totally serve this with sliced veggies and crackers, but I found it’s also great as a sandwich filling or salad topping—perfect for a summer night when you get home too exhausted to cook.

Tuna Avocado Dip

(Serves 4)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1 -5ounce can tuna, packed in water, drained
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish (optional for me)

Directions: 

  1. Mash avocado in small bowl, mix in other ingredients.
  2. Serve with sliced veggies and crackers or use as a sandwich filling or salad topping.

(Reprinted with permission from Snack Girl to the Rescue!)

What to Make this Weekend: Dad’s Specialty

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Happy Friday! How is it almost Father’s Day? I know that on Father’s Days past, I’ve talked about my dad’s favorite foods (aka “Hagen Daas is the nectar of the gods”), but I’m not sure I’ve ever talked about one of the, like, four foods my dad actually cooks. I say this with love, obviously.

Anyway, my dad’s special dish is what we call “Greek Macaroni” in our family. I have no idea why it’s called that, but I never thought to even question the name until a few years ago. Still a mystery. Anyway, here’s what this Greek Macaroni entails:

  • Elbow Macaroni
  • Onion
  • Ground Beef
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Oregano

Directions:

  1. Boil and drain macaroni and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté. Add ground beef and brown.
  3. Add tomato and bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer. Season with oregano.
  4. Pour meat sauce over macaroni. Dinner is served.

 

I think if I were to give this recipe a more Greek-to-me update, I might sub in some lamb for the beef and use rice instead of macaroni and then find an excuse to add eggplants and maybe top with feta if we’re going to go all-out with the Greek cuisine cliches, but then it wouldn’t be my dad’s Greek Macaroni—it would just be another of my excuses to eat too much eggplant.

Did your parents have any signature dishes when you were growing up? What’s your signature dish? 

 

What to make this weekend: Chips and Dip

Happy Friday. What are you getting into this weekend? I’m trying to catch up on rest and projects. And food prep. I’ve got a busy week ahead with a few long days where I’ll need to make sure I have some decent meals and snacks prepped.

Sunday’s cooking class reacquainted me with the ever-convenient chips & dip combination:
chips and dips

I use the term “chips” loosely. There are lots of things that can be dipped: Chips and crackers, yes, but also fruits, veggies, and skewers of meat, fish, tofu, and the like. I mean, heck, you can even dip a sandwich. While working at the space I rent once a month the other day, I was reminded of another old favorite snack: veggies dipped in salsa and guacamole:

desk snacks

At Sunday’s cooking class, I made this Chocolate Black Bean Dip. Typical weird-is-good. It pairs well with veggies like carrot and celery sticks, but it’s also nice on crackers. I ate some leftovers with a sliced apple the next day and have to say, it was fantastic. Similar to black bean brownies, you honestly can’t taste the beans in here.

apple and chocolate black bean dip

I need to play with the exact quantities to share in a recipe post, but basically, you combine black beans, melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, sweetener of choice, and chocolate chips in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

PS: If you want to get your breakfast game on track for the coming week, check out my tips over on the Lady Project Blog for make-ahead, instagram-worthy morning meals.

Speaking of dip recipes, this spicy goat cheese dip and white bean dip on How Sweet It Is both sound amazing. Great reminders I need to get back on the homemade wagon instead of buying my hummus pre-made.

What are your favorite dips? 

 

Build a Better Burger

burgerBurgers are pretty high on the list of classic summer foods. Though typically considered a fat and calorie bomb, they’re surprisingly easy to lighten up while enhancing the nutritional value through healthy swaps. Win-win situation.

Start with the meat

To get the classic beef taste but cut back a little on calories and saturated fat, go for a higher percentage of lean beef or do half-and-half with 95% lean and whatever you would normally use. Another great option is bison, a delicious, leaner alternative if you want to try something different.

If you’re not into beef, some other great options are turkey, chicken, ostrich, or even lamb (great mixed with lean beef to keep calories and saturated fat in check). You can also experiment with bean or lentil burgers and play around using cooked sweet potato, beets, or even cooked quinoa or brown rice in the mixture.

Add veggies

Pile your favorites high. Lettuce and tomato may be traditional burger toppings, but why not try arugula, microgreens, sautéed mushrooms or a mix of roasted peppers, zucchini, and eggplant? A few slices of avocado (technically a fruit, but so are tomatoes, so hey) are also delicious as a burger topping.

Salad is a no-brainer side dish, but you could also pair some steamed broccoli or grilled asparagus for a nutrient-rich but lower-calorie option.

Pick a carb

To keep the meal balanced, choose between a bun and fries, not both. Also keep in mind that corn and beans are also very high in carbs, even if they are the slow-digesting complex carbs. Make room by picking the item you’re most excited about. If the burger isn’t the same without the bun for you, have veggies on the side, or if you’re having a bean-based veggie burger, try it over salad. You could also do something like a lamb burger with a side of chickpeas and Greek salad. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday! How’s your weekend going? I’m co-teaching another cooking class today. Since things are going to get super-busy later this month, I’ve been trying to keep things low-key the rest of the weekend and cross some projects off the to-do list.

As I do every Sunday, this morning I want to share a few things that made me happy this week:

*After working in a cafe much of Friday afternoon, I made myself scallops with red lentils and veggies for dinner. Never gets old. scallops and red lentils

*Went to a friend’s birthday celebration Wednesday night at the recently opened V-Bar Seaport. I had almost talked myself out of going out because I was so fried after clinic, but I had a great time catching up with a few old faces and meeting some new folks. The birthday girl sent me some photos from the night— this one cracked me up: IMG_0933

*Playing a little “this time a year ago” game upped my optimism on a day I really needed a boost recently. Things are about to change a lot in terms of my schedule, and even though I’m nervous, I think it’s all part of a very positive bigger picture.

*Subway is the latest chain to announce it’s phasing out artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

*I watched The Longest Week on Netflix the other day and really liked it—the style and soundtrack were right up my alley. I wish I had the vocabulary to explain it. It reminded me of a slightly less quaint Wes Anderson movie. Also is it weird that Jason Bateman is my celebrity crush? I know there are lots of pretty, chiseled boy-things out there right now, but I guess I just have a thing for “dry, self-effacing wit” and “deadpan comic delivery.”

*These Skechers On the Go ballet flats are amazingly comfy. I kind of bought 3 colors…I’ve been loving them for errand-running after yoga or just walking around the neighborhood. They’ll probably also be great more commuting—way more support for your feet than rubber flip-flops, and way kinder than heels or blister-tastic sandals. They’re a little adorkable, but I think I can handle that.

Skechers

*I’m finally getting around to reading Stephen King’s The Shining. Hardly a joyful book, but sooo good. Even better than the movie. I’ve been on a roll with great fiction lately.

*Thank all that is holy for yoga. I’ve actually been able to make some of my favorite instructors’ classes this past week, and it’s been amazing. I feel like a blissed-out wet noodle.

What’s made you happy this week? 

What We Talk About When We Talk About Balanced Meals

For my fellow lit nerds out there, yes, that Raymond Carver reference was totally on purpose. I just can’t help myself sometimes.

I thought that today we’d talk about one of the most common questions I get asked from new clients.

“What should I eat?”

I feel like I sound super old school when I say this, but nine times out of ten,  my answer is, “Let’s start by focusing on balanced meals.”
The MyPlate guide we have now is sort of an improvement on the bizarre-o Food Pyramid of yore*, but a lot of dietitians, myself included, think it falls short when it comes to communicating what a healthy diet looks like. For example, it doesn’t even address dietary fat in the main visual, and the amounts of grains and dairy may not suit everyone’s needs, depending on medical conditions and considerations for allergies/intolerances. Grains are not the only source of carbohydrates and fiber, just as dairy is not the only way to get your calcium, vitamin D, and the like.

One thing I think it does well, though, is highlight the importance of vegetables in the diet by showing that half your plate should come from fruits and veggies.

As someone who spent four years in grad school, essentially, learning how to eat, I can tell you that it’s not just you—our God-Bless-America food culture makes healthy eating seem like a really nebulous concept that leaves a lot of folks scratching their heads and feeling bad about themselves for not being able to just eat “right.”

I may not believe in one objective, “right” way of eating (different individual bodies=different individual needs), but I do think there a few basics ways to help you feel nourished and energized as you work toward you personal health goals. I am all about balanced meals. By that, I mean a combination of protein, fat, and carbs to give you that slow-burning energy you need to get through your day. There may be some variation in the fine print depending on who you ask, but to me, the big picture looks like this when talking about a balanced meal:

farmigo scallops and arugulaVeggies: Go for the non-starchy stuff like leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and seasonal superstars like asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, radishes, and the like.

Protein: Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy, tofu, tempeh, seitan…whatever works for you! Yes, there is some overlap (for example, beans are a great source of complex carbs, nuts are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats), but choose what’s going to work best for you, depending what else is on your plate. Maybe try an egg instead of beans with your brown rice and veggies if you’re eating a lower-carb diet, or choose between (healthy but caloric) nuts and avocado on a salad if you’re trying to keep calories in check. It’s all about customizing your meals based on your needs.

Complex Carbohydrate: A small serving of a complex carb such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread or pasta, beans, peas, lentils, or starchy veggies like sweet potato, corn, or winter squash. A small serving of carbohydrate in the context of a meal will help promote stable blood sugar levels to keep you upbeat and alert until your next meal or snack.

Healthy Fat: Important for neurological function, hormone production, and satiety, a small serving of a healthy fat at meals also helps us stay full for longer, as fat digests slowly. For years, the recommendation was to restrict saturated fat (think: animal-based, solid-at-room-temp sources), and even though current research is showing we may not need to limit quite so much, it’s still generally recommended to get most of your fat from unsaturated plant-based sources such as oils, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

*One thing I did like about the food pyramid was the use of ranges for number of servings per day, and that the language of the related materials was more straightforward as opposed to sounding like polite suggestions. You can’t please everyone, so why try?

Do you have  preference between the pyramid and the plate? What’s one of your favorite meals? 

 

2-Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancake

I hate dirty dishes. Tetris-like pile-ups in the sink give me major anxiety—I can’t get my dishes into the dishwasher fast enough. When I didn’t have a dishwasher, I was in the habit of washing whatever I’d used the second I was done with it. What can I say? I may be easy-going, but I’m as Type-A as they come in some respects. This is a big part of why I’m a fan of simple recipes that don’t use a lot of pans and dishes. I’ll make an exception for a special occasion, but most of the time, no thank you.

Pancakes are one of those breakfast foods that can make any day feel like a holiday or weekend. Unless you use a boxed mix or pre-mix your own dry ingredients, though, it’s just too much of a mess to want to deal with most of the time. Or maybe that’s just me? That’s why these two-ingredient sweet potato pancakes are a totally life-saver.

Calling this a recipe almost feels like a cop-out. I am far from the first person to ever make this, but it’s just too good—and too easy—not to share.

sweet potato pancake ingredients

This quick and easy breakfast takes just 2 ingredients and is ready in as little as 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small to medium sweet potato (or 1/2 a large)
  • 1 whole egg or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites

sweet potato pancake stepsDirections: 

  1. Prick sweet potato a few times with a fork and microwave until soft.
  2. Scoop insides out of potato and mash with egg or egg white to make a batter.
  3. Heat an oiled (or oil-spritzed) skillet over medium heat and pour batter in, forming into a pancake shape.
  4. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
  5. Slide onto a plate and top with peanut butter and jelly—or whatever you want!

Enjoy!

Are you cool with dirty dishes or do they stress you out? 

A Small Collection of Joyous Things

Happy Sunday! Hope you’re been enjoying a lovely weekend. I’ve been happy to spend some time catching up with friends—and on projects.

I have a recipe coming your way soon too. It calls for a dusting of chocolate shavings. I didn’t have the patience to get out a knife and deal with cleanup, so this happened:

chocolate and hammer

This is actually one of my favorite ways to make chocolate chips/chunks/pieces because you just hammer the chocolate while it’s still in the wrapper so then you can just open the package and pour into a dish without making a mess. This is such a typical sagittarius way to do things.  Hey, whatever works.

Here’s my weekly little gratitude list…

*Spending time with the family over the long weekend. My sister even took a picture with me! I love how we accidentally match. She’s my hero for being able to make a yellow dress and a sea foam green dress look chic together. I have always admired her sense of style. I just throw on a neutral, add big jewelry, and hope for the best.

sisters in shades

*I’m not one to wish away time, but I am so happy to be moving into the warmer months as we get to summer and away from spring, which is my least favorite season. Transitions are really hard for me, and late March through early May can be difficult to navigate, between wishy-washy weather, bad anniversaries, and that seasonal restlessness that tends to set it. Add being 29 to the mix and it’s a recipe for #omgsomanyfeelings.

Fortunately, I saw it coming this year and got right to work addressing changes I wanted to make and setting things up for how I want my life to look. I’ve been so busy, I’ve hardly had time to feel the usual angst. That feels like a good thing, so I’m just gonna roll with it. It’s been kind of amazing to see what happens when you put your energy and best intentions into something—good lesson to keep in mind for the next time I need a reminder.

*Sometimes being busy and running around a lot means dinner at my desk. This rarely sucks, though, especially now that the light stays pretty longer. Here’s a favorite random desk dinner from this week:

random desk dinner

This is a soft-boiled egg on a spinach pancake, a baby kale & radicchio salad, and a steamed sweet potato with goat cheese. Totally hit the spot while catching up with Rise clients after an evening yoga class.

*Oats eaten out of an almost-empty peanut butter jar also happened this week. It was wonderful as always.

OIAJ

*I am loving my new camera. It’s made recipe-testing so much more fun!

*Went to a great Women Who Brunch event yesterday. I learned a ton, and it was wonderful to see some familiar faces and meet some cool, new ladies. I feel so lucky to be the age I am now, with so many amazing ways to network with other women pursuing what they’re passionate about. I may catch flack from the gentlemen folk sometimes for being “too career-focused,” but honestly, who needs chatting online with hot babes* all day?

Especially when you have exchanges like this with said hot babes: dietitian spelled wrong

I’m too snarky for my own good, probably, but I’m sure there are worse things.

*Cheers to giving yourself permission to quit something (again) when it stops being enjoyable.

What’s brought you joy this week? 

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