Monthly Archives: September 2010

homemade vanilla extract

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice with only saffron carrying a heftier price tag, yet vanilla is called for in most every baked good and dessert recipe. The vanilla bean is an orchid variety and are primarily grown in Madagascar. Pollinating and harvesting vanilla beans is a fine science and thus yield is not plentiful…and the price is reflective.

I buy a new bottle of vanilla extract every 6-8 weeks and spend roughly $9 for pure vanilla extract. Ouch! When Mo posted about making homemade vanilla extract with a link to Madagascar vanilla beans for a bargain on, I jumped on the ball!

Homemade Vanilla Extract from Mo

3+ vanilla beans for every 1 cup of vodka


Cut vanilla beans in half and then cut lengthwise to expose the fleshy insides and seeds. Submurge beans in vodka and store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry location. Let beans soak for 8-9 weeks or longer, shaking every so often.

You can double, triple, and quadruple the amount of vanilla extract so long as the ration of beans to vodka is 3:1!!

I have only had my beans soaking for a few days, so I can’t attest to taste, but the smells…ahhh! Vanilla beans put off such a wonderful aroma!

I plan to give vanilla extract away to kitchen dwelling friends and loved ones for the holidays. I’m excited! Eight weeks can’t come soon enough!! πŸ˜€

Mandoline Winners….!!!

Lisa who said: I would slice up lots of sweet potatoes!


Meredith who said: Homemade beet chips would be on my agenda with a mandolin like that! Paired with some yummy goat cheese for dipping. Yum!

Winners, congrats! πŸ™‚ Please email me your mailing addresses to and I will get those out to you ASAP!

Question: Do you fork over the big bucks for pure vanilla extract, or stick to imitation vanilla extract? Do you notice a difference in quality? Flavor? Scent?

Vanilla bean LOVE,


Filed under alcohol, dessert, Giveaway, Uncategorized

souuuper soup for supper!

Ohio has been dreary the last two days. After work on Monday I skipped my workout “because my achilles was a little sore” (kind of a true story πŸ˜‰ ) after my hockey game on Sunday night. And it was…a little…but nothing out of the ordinary for me. I really just wanted an excuse to veg out after a busy weekend…I’ll admit it! So when I hopped on the treadmill after work yesterday, I was shocked to find my legs lead-like again. Humph. About 3.5 miles into my 4 mile run I glance down to see that the incline was set at 2.5%. Oops. Not sure how that happened, but the last 1/2 mile was easy breezy after knocking the incline down to 0.5%. Those incline runs are killer, especially when you do it without knowing! I typically run on a 0.5% to 1% incline, but 2.5% proved to be much more challenging…and not in a fun way! Undercover Boss on the DVR occupied my mind from the struggle pretty well though, I’d say πŸ˜‰

After surfacing from our basement gym, I found no improvements in the weather and was all the more excited for pure comfort food: Loaded Potato Soup! There’s something about cooler weather that makes soups all the more satisfying!

The recipe calls for cooked potatoes, so I washed, pierced, and wrapped my potatoes in tin foil before placing them in the crock pot on low all day (about 8-9 hours)*. When I got home they were ready to go!

Loaded Potato Soup from Cooking Light

4 (6-ounce) red potatoes
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% milk, divided
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 turkey bacon slices, halved
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 tsp thinly sliced green onions


Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly. *Or cook potatoes in the crock pot as detailed above.

While potatoes cook, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sautΓ© 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk; add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil SLOWLY (you don’t want the milk to curdle!). Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.

Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Crumble bacon.

Discard potato skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup. Top with cheese, green onions, and bacon. Yield: 4 servings (about 1 1/4 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 325 calories; 11.1 g. fat; 27 mg. cholesterol; 670 mg. sodium; 43.8 g. carbohydrate; 3 g. fiber; 13.2 g. protein

Result: This was delicious! On a scale of 1-10, Mr. P gave the soup a 7.5 and I would give it an 8.5. Like Mr. P said to me over dinner, potato soup is one of those foods that can be outrageously unhealthy, and that’s why it tastes SO good. Given that this was a slimmed down version of a standard loaded potato soup, I do feel it captured all the flavors and richness. We both agreed that we would make it again. Plus, it’s super quick and can come together in 15 minutes or less…always a bonus. πŸ˜€


“Mommy, are all of bumps on me wrinkles or jelly rolls?”

At least she still fits into her Halloween costume…BARELY!

Question: What’s your all time favorite soup? And do you eat soup during the warmer months?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a MANDOLINE! There will be 2 lucky winners! The giveaway ends TONIGHT at 9pm EST and the winners will be announced tomorrow! πŸ˜€

Happy halfway to Friday!


Filed under Cooking Light, crock pot, dinner, dog, exercise, fiber, fruits and vegetables, Giveaway, healthy cooking, pets, physical activity, recipe, reduced-calorie, running

if it sounds too good to be true…

I’m all about pre-made breakfasts for the busy work week. And when I saw this recipe, it sounded too good to be true. The second half of that saying reads, “…then chances are it is.” And that it was…too good to be true. 😦

Pumpkin & Caramelized Banana Baked Oatmeal from Healthy Food for Living

canola oil cooking spray
1 Tbsp unsalted butter 50/50 Smart Balance Butter Blend
2 large yellow-green bananas, sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (I used raisins)
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts or seeds (I used walnuts)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure maple extract


Preheat oven to 375Β° F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square or round baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the sliced bananas and cook for 2 minutes, gently stirring every now and then. Add cinnamon and maple syrup and let mixture boil & thicken for about 30 seconds. Spoon the bananas into the bottom of the prepared dish, and spread in an even layer. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, dried fruit, nuts or seeds, brown sugar, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, egg, and maple extract.

Stir the oat mixture into the milk & pumpkin mixture. Pour over the bananas in the dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information: 517 calories; 15.5 g. fat; 60 mg. cholesterol; 338 mg. sodium; 87 g. carbohydrate; 38 g. sugar; 10.8 g. fiber; 13.8 g. protein

Result: 😦 I’ve made lots of Lauren’s recipes and this has been the first bust. I was really excited about the recipe as I was preparing it — pumpkin, oatmeal, maple syrup…yum! When I ate it yesterday morning, I took about 4-5 bites before throwing it all out…. and I HATE wasting food. I was totally disappointed, especially after calculating the nutrition information. It’s a good thing I didn’t eat much of it…the carbohydrates are about 2x what I aim to have in a meal, and the grams of sugar are really high (this is because of the raisins, not the sugar). Other than the carbohydrate/sugar issue, the oatmeal bake was really dense and dry. Total bummer!

Some of you have asked if I ever make recipes I DON’T like and obviously unfortunately the answer is yes! I really do try to give fair, constructive, and honest reviews of the recipes we try.

I’m going to make a tried and true baked oatmeal this morning that comes in at 245 calories and 41.2 g. carbohydrate. I have my heart set on baked oatmeal, what can I say? πŸ˜‰

Mr. P and I enjoyed some delicious pizza Sunday night made with the amazing Parmesan Pizza Crust and zucchini and spicy turkey sausage toppings! A combination of my favorite pizza crust recipe and my favorite pizza topping recipes… YUM! YUM! YUM!

Question: What was your last disaster in the kitchen? Did you end up eating it or tossing it?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for chances to win one of 2 mandolines! You have until tomorrow at 9pm EST! :-d

Have a super day!


Filed under breakfast, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, Giveaway, healthy cooking, low-carb, pizza, recipe

Mandoline Giveaway!


I haven’t done a giveaway in eons — sorry!

For a chance to win one of TWO folding mandoline slicers, do one…all…or some of the following:

  1. Leave a comment saying what you would slice most with a mandoline!
  2. Add Prevention RD to your blogroll and leave a separate for another entry!
  3. Link back to this post on a post of your own and leave a separate for another entry!
  4. Become a fan of Prevention RD on Facebook and leave a separate for another entry!

A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday the 29th at 9PM EST and announced on Thursday. πŸ˜€

Good luck!

Have a super week,


Filed under Giveaway

beware of the fair’s fare!


Mr. P’s birthday was fun! We ended up going to the fair with some friends and I tried my first fried Oreo. As apprehensive as I was to take that first bite, boy am I sure glad I did…they are delicious! They’re hard to describe, but are something like a chocolate-filled donut hole. I’m glad we opted to split an order — one for each of us! That’s called damage control! Good thing fairs are a once-a-year deal!! πŸ˜‰ And it’s probably not all too surprising that Mr. P wanted Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. I’m beginning to NOT enjoy anything involving buffalo sauce!

Nutty Fruit Bars adapted from Anja’s Food 4 Thought

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dried dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw pepitas pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I used 1 Tbsp flax seeds + 3 Tbsp pistachios)
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 300Β° F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pour fruit juice over dates and let soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place nuts, apricots (or your fruit of choice), and figs in a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add dates with orange juice and pulse until mixture starts to stick together. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add cranberries, coconut and seeds, kneading the batter until all is well incorporated.

Use the prepared baking sheet as surface and fill large cookie cutters with the batter. Gently remove the cutter to keep the bars in shape. Repeat until all batter is used up.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Yield: 11 bars.

Nutrition Information (per bar): 236 calories; 17.5 g. fat; 56 mg. cholesterol; 102 mg. sodium; 18.3 g. carbohydrate; 10.8 g. sugar; 5.1 g. fiber; 5.4 g. protein

Result: These are a breakfast or snack DELIGHT! They are loaded with nutrition — fiber, mono and polyunsaturated fats, low in sodium….yum! I am a huge fan…and they are very simple to make. I may add in 1 tablespoon of agave or honey next time to just help them hold together a BIT more…but they are decadent! And like I said, nutritionally, they’re an A++!


My business partners and I are meeting this morning to make some major head-way on our WEBSITE! That’s right, in less than 2 weeks Mid Ohio Nutrition Specialists (that’s us!) will be up and running on the web. We’ve got a pitch to a group of docs on October 18th and another pitch to prepare for a group of 11 nephrologists in Columbus. We need to bring our A-game! Exciting stuff!!

Question: What’s the weirdest or best deep-fried food you’ve ever had?

P.S. Pumpkin pie spice contains: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg! Several of you got it right…not that I’m surprised! But I honestly had no idea…learn something new every day!

P.P.S. My Pumpkin Lasagna photo was on Foodgawker yesterday…awesome!! πŸ˜€ First submission and a home run! I was flattered!

P.P.P.S. My friend Erica is giving away a prep bowl set! Be sure to enter to win!

P.P.P.P.S. Stop by tomorrow for a giveaway!

Enough P.S.’s? I think so…ciao!



Filed under breakfast, carb-controlled, dietitians, dining out, dinner, dog, festival, fiber, flax, fried food, friends, healthy cooking, marriage, MUFAs and PUFAs, pets, recipe, saturated fat, self-control, snack, sodium, trans fat, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

Pumpkin Bread & Mr. P’s birthday!

Happy Birthday to my Mr. Prevention! He is turning the BIG 3-0 today!!! That’s a big birthday! I got him headphones and candy, haha. I’m practical! We went out to a new Mexican restaurant last night and then out to see Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps…which we both agreed, was really, really bad! And now Mr. P is sleeping in…probably his #1 birthday wish. As for today, I have no idea what we’ll do…whatever Birthday Boy wishes! πŸ˜€ And it is looking to be a stunning fall day in Mid Ohio!

Illinois has a bye week this week, so the chili contest will resume next weekend with Entry #4!

As for today’s recipe, I bring you more of fall…a recipe per Mr. P’s request: Pumpkin Bread. Have I mentioned how much I I am loving fall this year?! I opened a 6 1/2 POUND can of pumpkin to make Pumpkin Lasagna and this Pumpkin Bread used another 1/5th of the can…if that. Next is pumpkin breakfast for the week and some pumpkin butter at some point. Stay tuned!!

Pumpkin Bread by Prevention RD

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly bean
16 oz canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves


Preheat oven to 350Β° F. Butter and flour a 9in x 5in loaf pan. Stir together sugar and oil. Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients into wet mixture, mixing until just combined. Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool. Yield: 8 slices.

Nutrition Information (per slice): 345 calories; 15.9 g. fat; 54 mg. cholesterol; 349 mg. sodium; 48 g. carbohydrate; 5.5 g. fiber; 2.5 g. protein

Result: Deeeeeeeeeeeelicious! I studied several recipes and went for it…making some healthy modifications along the way. To reduce the calories and fat more so, sub in 1/4 cup applesauce + 1/4 cup canola oil for the 1/2 cup of canola oil. I think a big’ol slice of delicious, warm pumpkin bread is well worth the 345 calories, though πŸ˜‰


Miss Lily had a vet appointment yesterday. She’s going to need eye surgery for her entropion — her eye lids roll inward and rub her eye. It’s caused her eye ulcers in the past and now she’s just uncomfortable and has gunk in her eyes all the time. As for her health, the vet said he was okay with her 64-pound physique, but it’s best she maintains her weight instead of continuing any upward climb. He asked what we feed her and I shared her diet. He asked about treats and I said she gets 1/2 of a Milk Bones when she goes in her crate. He said Milk Bones are high-calorie treats for dogs…which I didn’t know. But, I should’ve known…or at least thought to research into! I AM A BAD DOGGY DIETITIAN!!! So Miss Lily will be put on a baby carrot treat diet and maybe not get quite to many bowls to lick when I’m through with them. No wonder she likes to “help” in the kitchen so much…

Oops! πŸ˜‰

Trivia Question: What 5 spices make up “Pumpkin Pie Spice”?

Happy days,


Filed under age, pets, recipe, Uncategorized

Pumpkin Lasagna

My co-worker forwarded me this recipe last week, and I knew I had to try it. “It sounds like something you’d like!” she said. Hm, she knows my taste buds well πŸ˜€

I made a lot of modifications to this recipe because 1) I had read the recipe reviews and 2) going into the weekend I didn’t want a ton of pumpkin lasagna to eat…especially since Mr. P’s reaction to this dish was unpredictable and I might’ve ended up eating it all. Leftovers are great, but when there’s just the 2 of us, enough is enough after awhile, you know? Just like I hope I’m not sick of chili for a lifetime by the end of football season and my Chili Contest πŸ˜‰

…I digress. Pumpkin Lasagna, voila!

Pumpkin Lasagna adapted from Taste of Home

1/2 1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) 2 1/2 cup solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 1 cup half-and-half cream
1 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
Dash of pepper
9 no-cook whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 3/4 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


In a large pot, boil water and cook noodles until they are bendable but not quite al dentΓ©. Rinse with cold water and keep submerged until you use them.

In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the oil until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, half-and-half, sage, pepper, and remaining salt.

Spread ~1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 9in x 9in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles (snip off approx. 2″ of each noodle so they fit in the dish). Spread ~1 cup pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of mushroom mixture, 3/4 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce.

Cover and bake at 375Β° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 360 calories; 17.5 g. fat; 56 mg. cholesterol; 619 mg. sodium; 34 g. carbohydrate; 7.5 g. fiber; 22.5 g. protein

Result: Mr. P and I agreed…this recipe was either going to be a good one or a complete bust. And…it was good! Really good! The recipe reviews all said to use more mushrooms and the recipe needed more sauce, so with both of those changes, it was great! I love that the lasagna is carbohydrate friendly and high in protein despite being a vegetarian entree. The 7.5 grams of fiber is a bonus, too! Be sure to let the lasagna sit for AT LEAST 10 minutes…15 is better. Mr. P said he enjoyed it, too. He said it wasn’t THE BEST recipe ever, but he liked it and ate every bite. I’d say that’s a success!

Mr. P is now requesting pumpkin bread, so that’s probably what I’ll do with some of the remaining pumpkin! I guess I know what I’ll be doing for birthday boy this weekend πŸ˜‰

Question: What’s your favorite way to eat pumpkin? Would you think you would like pumpkin lasagna?



Filed under carb-controlled, carbohydrates, dinner, fiber, fruits and vegetables, healthy cooking, herbs, low-carb, protein, recipe, vegetarian