Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Neapolitan Smoothie Pops

It is freezing cold outside currently and while I usually want soups and stews, occasionally I want to pretend I am in a warmer place and want summery January. I know.

Like many foods, popsicles have the opportunity to be a nutritional boon or a calorie bomb. I wanted to make something that tasted delicious and wouldn't set me back a zillion calories. I decided to make a popsicle that was mostly yogurt and fruit based - like a smoothie!

Yogurt, too, can be a high-sugar dessert or a healthy part of your day. Chobani is one brand of plain Greek yogurt I buy because of the very short and simple ingredient list. The only sugar in the product is there naturally from the cow.

Neapolitan Smoothie Pops

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Supplies: popsicle molds, or small cups and popsicle sticks
  1. In a blender, puree the bananas and 1 cup of the greek yogurt with honey. Pour about one cup of the mixture into each of two small bowls. This should use up most, but not all of the mixture. 
  2. To one bowl,add the cocoa powder and stir until evenly mixed. To the other bowl, stir inthe vanilla extract.
  3. To the remaining mixture in the blender, add the remaining 1/2 cup of yogurt and frozen strawberries. Blend until smooth. 
  4. Divide the chocolate mixture between your popsicle molds or small cups, filling each no more than 1/3 full. Freeze for an hour or so, until firm enough to hold the popsicle sticks. 
  5. Add the vanilla layer and freeze until solid. Top with strawberry layer and freeze again until firm. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cheddar Broccoli Bites

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. 
I was not additionally compensated for my time.

These Broccoli Bites are the perfect hearty appetizer for every party goer tired of raw veggies and dip. The Broccoli Bites are crunchy, nutty and have a surprise center - a cube of delicious Cabot cheddar!

Bake these bites for your next party, game day or as an entree for your next veggie-focused dinner. I'm more of a board game player than sports team watcher, but I am sure that these bites are applicable at all party types. And better yet, they're loved by vegetarians and meat eaters alike!

Cheddar Broccoli Bites
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 4 ounces Cabot cheddar cheese, cut into 16 even cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment (VIP!)
  2. Steam broccoli florets for 10 minutes or until vibrant green and tender. 
  3. Pulse almonds in food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. 
  4. Pulse steamed broccoli in food processor until chopped. Add to bowl of almonds and add Parmesan, pesto and eggs. Season with salt and pepper if you wish. 
  5. Grab a golfball-sized scoop of the broccoli mixture and form it around one cube of cheddar, squeezing tightly to ensure broccoli mixture holds shape. Place on prepared baking sheet and continue with the remaining broccoli bites. 
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. 
  7. Serve plain, or dipped in your favorite warmed spaghetti sauce. 

An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cheddar Pumpkin Dip

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

Have I mentioned that I am obsessed with pumpkin? Obsessed. And not "pumpkin spice" stuff. Recipes that include real pumpkin, roasted, and added with glee. 

My favorite pumpkin is called a jarrahdale pumpkin. The skin is quite thick, like a butternut squash, so they will store for a while over the winter, as long as the skin isn't nickedI've found them for sale as decorations and as food, and really, they're both. The outside is bluish-greenish and the inside is orange. I consider the Jarrahdale to be the honeycrisp apple of pumpkins. It has sweet, complex flavor that only improves with roasting. 

Did I mention that I'm obsessed?

Now, to pair pumpkin with some delicious cheese? What could be better? This is actually a healthy little dip, unlike most game day recipes that are loaded with calories. 

The good news is that this is also a truly simple, healthy dip - pop a few ingredients into your favorite blender or food processor, stir in some freshly shredded pepper jack cheese and pop it into the oven for an ooey-gooey treat that you can enjoy. 

Cheddar Pumpkin Dip

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh pumpkin roasted is tastier, canned is easier)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
  • Sundried tomatoes, roma tomatos and/or green onions, for garnish
  • Tortilla chips, carrot sticks and celery sticks, for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray six ramekins with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Combine cannelini beans, pumpkin, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor and puree until smooth. Divide mixture between the six ramekins.
  3. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the bean and pumpkin mixture and stir to incorporate the cheese throughout. Sprinkle top with diced sundried tomatoes, if using. 
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling and heated throughout.
  5. Garnish with tomatoes and/or green onion, if using. Serve with chips and veggies to dip.

An InLinkz Link-up

Guest Post: Easy Real Food Granola

With 2015 here we can’t help but wonder what resolutions and changes we should make to live a happier healthier year!  Look no further, and jump-start your mornings with this heart healthy granola recipe destined to start off your day in the right direction!  Ingredients including oatmeal, mixed nuts, mixed seeds, and dried fruit not only make this recipe nutritious, but will also hit the spot early in the morning!

Easy Real Food Granola
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)
  • 1  cup raw mixed nuts
  • 1/4 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, sesame)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, unsweetened
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. 
  2. Put oatmeal, mixed nuts, mixed seeds, coconut, and cinnamon on a baking sheet. 
  3. Sir well; smooth out. Drizzle with maple syrup and olive oil; stir. 
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so take out and stir the mixture. Then spread granola out evenly on the baking sheet with a wooden spoon and put back in oven. 
  5. When granola is golden brown and your kitchen smells delicious, remove from oven, mix in dried fruit (roughly chop any large pieces); let cool. 
  6. Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit!
You can keep leftover granola in an airtight container about 2 weeks if it lasts that long!

Guest Post by Madison!
"Nutrition and health have always been a passion of mine and I am lucky enough to apply this interest by majoring in Nutrition with a focus in Dietetics and minoring in General Business at Miami University." - Madison, Grass Roots Nutrition Intern

Friday, January 23, 2015

Very Veggie Pumpkin Chili

There probably aren't many things more belly warming than a big bowl of chili on a winter night. I love chili, and as a dietitian, think that this is a real winner as a place to add heaps of veggies.

You should also know that I am a wee bit obsessed with pumpkin. 

One nice thing about making a big pot of soup or stew is that you're allowed to play with the recipe, use up what you have in your own kitchen and not worry too much about measuring.  Meat is optional here, there is plenty of protein and flavor with just the beans. Relax, throw on your favorite tunes and get ready to enjoy the feast!

Smoked paprika is a more recent discovery for my kitchen and I love the unique, smokey flavor that it adds. I also use chilies in adobo sause (a canned item found in the Latin section of your grocery store). If you're not into smokey flavors, skip it!

Very Veggie Pumpkin Chili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion 
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground lean turkey, beef or mushroom (or skip)
  • 2 16-ounce cans beans, drained and rinse. Black, kidney, garbanzo are all good choices. 
  • 2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups fresh pumpkin puree (or two 16-ounce cans)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprkia
  • 2-4 cups stock, water or beer (I used low sodium chicken stock)
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves diced (or spinach, or skip)
Toppings: cheddar cheese, avocado cubes, pumpkin seeds, corn chips, sour cream, etc. 
  1. In a large pot,  turn on heat to medium-high and add olive oil. Stir in onions, peppers and garlic and saute until softened. Add meat or mushrooms and saute until browned. 
  2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin puree, spices, stock, beans and your leafy greens. I like thick chili, so I stuck with two cups of broth.
  3. Cover and bring chili to a boil.
  4. Remove lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes to meld flavor, but as long as you have. Taste and make sure you think it is awesome
  5. Enjoy a bowl with your favorite toppings!
Note: I am my fathers daughter in that I have his condition of fill-up-the-pot-itis. I can't start cooking in a  large pot without filling it up. If you're not interested in making a huge pot of chili, this recipe can easily be cut in half. However, this freezes really well in individual portions in ziptop baggies, jars or other containers.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kids Cooking Class Recap - Raw Wolf Meat and other high-protein foods

Last weekend I gave a little talk and cooking demo for kiddos at our local library. It is the library of my youth and it still is a magical place in my mind.

I had a wonderful, rambunctious group of nine, 9-11 year olds. As they were trickling into the room, i offered them their pick of my apron stash, including my favorite super hero aprons. The Darth Vader Apronwent quickly.

I walked around the room to ask each kiddo their name and their favorite snack and got mostly healthy answers (oranges, apples, cucumbers) a few treats (cookies!!!!) and a few surprises (fish eyes, seaweed).

I would have to assume that most dietitians would be excellent poker players because we have to be prepared for any answer without expressing shame, disbelief, etc. I wasn't sure if he was kidding or not, so I asked how fish eyeballs tasted and he replied "not like much". I tried to google fish eyeball recipes and didn't come up with anything. He may have tricked me.

We talked about my general guidelines for snacks and they were eager to participate.
  1. Kids might need 1-2 snacks per day.
  2. Cookies and potato chips are treat snacks.
  3. We ARE allowed to have treats sometimes, just not all the time.
  4.  The best snacks include two food groups.
When we got into the discussion of pairing foods for the most nutrition, we  talked about protein foods that would be good snack choices such as a plain yogurt (add fruit + cinnamon for flavor) and hard boiled eggs. I asked what else they liked for protein foods and Mr. Fisheye piped up with "raw wolf meat".

Gosh I love their creative minds :)

Yes, indeed. If you can get your hands on raw wolf meat, that would be an excellent protein food. Any others?

Onto the cooking! I had the kids wash hands and then pick one of three stations where I had recipe cards waiting and ingredients ready. They worked together and were excited to get cooking!

The cool thing is that even if a kid thought they didn't like something, because their peers were eating it, they were more likely to try it. It wasn't a high pressure situation, we weren't forcing them, we were simply presenting with enthusiasm. For example, one of the main ingredients in the oatmeal cookie energy bites is chopped raisins. One kiddo expressed not liking raisins and I agreed that when I was her age, I didn't like them either. I said, the reason that we have raisins in this recipe is because they're sweet, and when we chop them into tiny pieces, they're sticky and hold the energy bites together. I would suggest taking a tiny piece of an energy bite to try once they're all done and see what you think. Turns out she thought they were pretty good!

Another kiddo wasn't too sure about topping popcorn with olive oil when he was used to melted butter. But, he tried it, with a sprinkle of herbs and Parmesan cheese and liked it!

Wanna get cooking with your kids? Try any of these simple snack ideas.

Real Food Ranch
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • ½  teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Place yogurt in a small bowl or storage container.

2. Add herbs and spices and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Use as a dip for fresh vegetables, as a spread for sandwiches, dressing for pasta salad, baked potato topping or thin with a bit of water to make an   excellent salad dressing.

Note: for best flavor, make ahead of time. 

Recipe adapted from WhyFoodWorks

Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup salted almond butter
1. Mix all ingredients into a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.
2. Using clean hands, press dough into balls about the size of a ping pong ball.
3. Store in the refrigerator.

Recipe from C&J Nutrition

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 brown paper lunch bag
Toppings: olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan cheese, cinnamon, Mrs. Dash seasoning blends, Old Bay, hot sauce, etc.

1. Open lunch bag and pour popcorn inside.
2. Fold top of lunch bag three times using small folds. Place bag on its side in the microwave and nuke for 60-90 seconds or until most kernels are popped but nothing has burned.
3. Remove bag from microwave and open carefully to prevent getting burned by the steam. Add your favorite toppings and dig in!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

{Recipe Redux} Start Smoking in the new year: Smokey Cauliflower Steak with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

The New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. 
Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

Smoked paprika is a more recent discovery of mine.I had used sweet paprika as a kid on deviled eggs,
but that is about the extent of my paprika repertoire. I snagged a tin from my local TJ Maxx on a whim and haven't looked back. I love the complex flavor that is provides recipes, especially in the winter when soups, stews and hearty vegetable dishes are so appealing.

Cauliflower is one "IT" vegetable of 2015. This pale beauty is so versatile. Home chefs are turning it into rice, pizza crusts,  soups and stews and pinterest is ablaze with mouth watering pics. This past summer I went to Nashville for a lovely bachelorette party for a good friend who is a vegan. The restaurant we went to made us some wonderful appetizers and several of us chose the cauliflower steak for dinner - it was delicious! I've been wanting to try my hand at making it ever since. When this month's Recipe ReDux theme was posted - all things smokey - I new the time had come for cauliflower!

I hope you'll try it!

Smokey Cauliflower Steak with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

  • One small cauliflower
  • 1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I like Cabot sharp cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil plus more for brushing
  • 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Remove leaves from cauliflower. Place cauliflower, stem end down, onto a cutting board. Using sharp heavy knife and starting at top center of cauliflower head, cut two 1-inch-thick slices of cauliflower, cutting through stem end.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons  oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Brush cauliflower steaks with additional oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Add cauliflower steaks to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and bake cauliflower steaks until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, chop remaining cauliflower into florets. In medium saucepan add florets and about an inch of water and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover, bring to boil and cook until cauliflower florets are very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain any remaining water from florets.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree cauliflower until smooth. Add shredded cheddar, milk and puree until smooth and thoroughly mixed. Or, pop the cauliflower, milk and cheese into a regular blender and blend until smooth (be careful not to burn yourself on the steam).
  6. To serve, spoon1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce onto a plate and place cauliflower steak on top. Sprinkle with a bit more smoked paprika and dig in! Store leftover sauce in the fridge; I used mine up the following breakfast - drizzled onto eggs and as a dip for my toast :)

Recipe Adapted from Dan Barber's Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée on Food 52.

Be sure to check out these other awesome recipes from the Recipe ReDux!

An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cracking the caffeine Crutch: How I broke up with my caffeine dependency

I began drinking coffee in college and had a wee coffee pot in my dorm room. I'd make a fresh pot each morning and my roommate liked that her towels, that were stored below, smelled like coffee. As the work load increased, so too did the coffee consumption. Once in a while coffee become each day.

After I finished my bachelors, I had a summer to recharge and realized that I didn't like how much coffee I was drinking. My teeth were too yellow, it is expensive to buy coffee that tastes decent (let alone responsibly grown) and I didn't like that I didn't feel good without it. So I quit. A few days of headaches and eventually I was free.

Enter grad school. Dun dun duuuuunnnnnnnnnnn.

My grad school program at OSU was a two year masters program with a thesis, plus a nine month internship program...all in two years. Dare I say busy? The clean-from-caffeine cruise lasted for all of five minutes and then I was back on the java wagon. I also worked part time as a coffee barista, so that only added fuel to the fire. Coffee in the morning and coffee in the afternoon and sometimes more.

And that's how it has been for six years.


So here's the thing. Coffee actually has some real health benefits. It has phytochemicals, it is moode boosting, etc. I simply didn't like that I needed it. If I didn't have coffee in the morning and coffee after lunch, I felt groggy and got a headache. Less healthy are coffee drinks with added sugars, added chemicals or whipped cream. Those desserts-in-a-cup aren't really "coffee", they're treats.

I realized it was bad when one of my former interns discovered through LEAP testing that she does not tolerate coffee and had to quit cold turkey. My heart sank when she told me the news and I felt like she had told me someone had died. Life without coffee? How can she go on?

I reflected on my reaction and realized that it was rather dramatic....but that is how I truly felt. I love the smell of coffee. I love the ritual of making the mug each morning and afternoon. I love grinding good coffee beans. I even love putting the spent grounds in my garden. What I realized I don't love is that without coffee, I felt like garbage.

Time for a change.

I didn't think cold-turkey was for me, so I started to taper my caffeine intake down.
  • Week One: Afternoon cuppa joe half-caffeinated
  • Week Two: Morning and afternoon half-caf.  
  • Week Three: Morning half-caf, afternoon black tea, which has some caffeine, but less than the half-caf coffe
  • Week Four: All black tea
  • Week Five: Herbal "tea"...things like raspberry zinger and mint tea aren't truly teas, they're herbal infusions, but that is a story for another blog post. 
I thought that going down slowly would make things easier. Maybe they were, but it was still rather rough. I had a lot of headaches. I felt groggy and my mind felt sluggish. And you know what else felt sluggish? My bowels. Caffeine can stimulate the smooth muscle of your GI tract and mine was sloooooooooow. 

Say hello to a grumpy Holly!

It took weeks without coffee before I felt mostly normal without it. I don't think I'm fully there, but I am much better than I was a month ago. I'm not planning to give up coffee forever, and I have enjoyed a few cups over the past month, but I never want to be in a place where I am dependent on it again. Independent. That's me. 

This experience has really made me think about those who are struggling with addiction to substances a lot more complicated than caffeine. 

What are my tips for lowering your caffeine intake?
  1. Taper down. I think that going cold turkey would have been worse.
  2. Drink lots of water. I think that being dehydrated also contributed to feeling sluggish in the afternoons and so while caffeine would perk me up, I also would have benefited from a big glass of H2O! 
  3. Allow time to rest more such as a small nap or going to bed earlier. 
  4. Experiment with other hot drinks. I love the ritual of a hot drink and have had fun exploring other teas that I wouldn't have bothered with before. 
  5. Perk up with walks, fresh air, exercise and time in the outdoors. 
So far, my favorite new teas are Cinnamon Apple Chamomile, Cranberry Orange and Licorice Spice. No, it isn't the same as the robust mug of coffee ("mud" as my dad would call it), but at least it is something. 

And I feel more independent without the need for coffee. 

Have you ever broken up with coffee? Did you find any tricks for making the transition smoother?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Product review: Charles VIANCIN Lilypad Lid Silicone Suction Lid

In my kitchen, I try to minimize my use of disposable packaging. I use containers in place of plastic bags whenever possible. I use my steel or ceramic mugs when taking coffee or tea on the go. I even skip buying paper towels so that I have to use cloth napkins and rags. I'm not perfect, but I make an effort.

For Christmas this year, I received a gift from my mama for my kitchen; a silicone disk that is used in place of plastic wrap to seal bowls for storage or for use in the microwave to prevent splatters. I thanked my mom and added it to the pile.

Full disclosure: I was quite skeptical!

When I brought it home, I washed it and had it resting in my dish drainer for a while. What was I going to do with this new do-dad?

My husband and I baked some fresh bread the other day (is there any smell better?). I didn't have any large plastic bags for storage and my big pot, what I usually throw bread into, was already in use storing some steel cut oats.

What the heck? Let's try this new lid thing.

Ladies and gentleman, it is awesome! 

I threw the cooled loaf of bread into a mixing bowl and set the lid on top. With one tiny push in the center, the lid stuck to the rim like a magnet! I am honestly surprised at how well it worked.

The Charles VIANCIN Silicone Suction Lid & Food Covercan go in the dishwasher, the microwave and the oven up to 500 degrees. It is versatile, reusable a bajillion times and saves plastic. Win!

I'd recommend ordering some for your home and reducing the trash we make.

What new kitchen gadgets are you using?

Monday, January 5, 2015

A {virtual} Happy Birthday toast to Regan: Maple Collins

What a pleasure to be able to offer a virtual toast to Regan, a blogging colleague, co-founder of the Blog Brulee and one awesome lady!

I enjoyed this cocktail for the December Staycation and just loved it. I hope you do too, Regan! A very happy Birthday to you

Maple Collins

  • 1 1/2 ounces Crown Royal Maple Finished Whisky
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice, chilled
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces club soda

Place a few ice cubes into your favorite glass. Pour drink ingredients, in order, and give a saucy stir. Enjoy :)

See below for links to all of the other awesome virtual birthday party recipe posts from my fellow dietitians and friends! All the recipes are either gluten free desserts or cocktails.

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