Category Archives: Gina's WW Recipes

Creamy Parmesan Spinach Dip

Happy Wednesday!

It’s snowing just about everywhere in the US it seems! When I walked out of work yesterday (in ballet flats!) a good 4″ of snow had fallen. Needless to say, the 20 steps to my car lead to near frost bite. Brrrrr!!! But despite this weather, the show must go on. I have lab rounds at a clinic that’s 50 miles north of home and then I will double back to go teach tonight. It’s probably fair to say I’ll be commuting most of the day. Fabulous.

Though, sitting in the car sounds okay right about now. I decided to shovel for my workout last night. I went out with intentions of just just do the sidewalks, but that only took about 10 minutes. So I decided to shovel the DRIVEWAY! Yep, you read that correctly. And the best part: we have a brand new snow blower! I’m walking like a hunch-back today, and sore is the understatement of the century, but it was a KILLER workout! I wonder what the neighbors are saying… 😉

On to a lightened up classic! This recipe contains light mayonnaise, which I must admit, I love. I know a lot of people don’t like mayonnaise, but I love the stuff (Hellmann’s mayonnaise, please! And no Miracle Whip! Ew!). It’s not like I use it often, but I love it in recipes where it belongs: chicken salad, tuna salad, dips, etc. I recall several years ago brainstorming summer job options with my sister-in-law — one of her requirements for a job was that it didn’t involve mayonnaise!! We had a good laugh over that one. I have a terrible memory, but I’ll never forget it! 😉

Creamy Parmesan Spinach Dip from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup scallion, chopped
fresh pepper to taste


Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Can be made one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Yield: 2 cups (8 servings, 1/4 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per 1/4 cup): 84 calories; 6.1 g. fat; 16 mg. cholesterol; 172 mg. sodium; 2.4 g. carbohydrate; 0.3 g. fiber; 4.4 g. protein

Result: DELICIOUS! I ate this cold with crackers and veggies, Mr. P heated it up and ate it on chips. It is versatile and scrumptious! It’s perfect to take in lunches to doll-up raw veggies, or as an appetizer at a dinner party. And the portion size is generous for the nutrition stats! Enjoy! 😀

Off for a crazy day! Why do I have a feeling dinner is going to be a Larabar and clementines? Going prepared!

Question: Is it snowing where you are? Do you like mayonnaise?

Drive safe! Stay warm!



Filed under condiments, fruits and vegetables, Gina's WW Recipes, hors d'oeuvres, low-carb, physical activity, recipe, reduced-calorie, teaching, travel, Uncategorized, vegetarian, work

Epic breakfast…for dinner

Just for fun, here are just a FEW questions my students have asked in our first 2 classes:

  • How often should you have a bowel movement?
  • Is high-fructose corn syrup really worse than sugar?
  • Is stevia safe?
  • Why does the Atkins diet help people lose weight?
  • How many calories do I need to gain weight?
  • Do carbohydrates make you fat?
  • Why does the government subsidize corn  if the MyPyramid is aiming to reduce high-fructose corn syrup consumption?

Do I have some smart, inquisitive pupils or what? I guess I should now mention that the first 2 chapters we’ve gone over have nothing to do with any of those questions (and those were just a FEW), but the class discussion is priceless. And some of the false information floating around out there is just plain’ol SCARY!

So while teaching is going well, a 6pm start time has caused dinners to be very…rushed. And that is quite the understatement.

Let me preface this next part by saying that I am notoriously late, always. Not a lot, but a little. And when you’re the teacher, that just doesn’t fly. So I’m really trying to be ON TIME…if only to class.

Monday night I shoveled down a bowl of cereal and a banana before jetting off to class. Last night, I made an epic breakfast for dinner that I had to eat in, literally, 2 minutes. Of course, had I not taken the time to photograph this lovely meal, I would’ve had 4 minutes or so, but I had to do this French toast justice. Because I very well know that pretty pictures make you more likely to believe my rave reviews…riiiight?

Lightened Up Crème Brûlée French Toast from Skinny Taste

1 cup unpacked brown sugar
1/4 cup water
cooking spray
10 oz Challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick
2 large eggs
1 cup egg substitute
1-1/2 cups 1% milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Meyers rum (optional) – I omitted
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


In a small heavy saucepan melt brown sugar and water over moderate-low heat, stirring, until smooth and melted, about 1 minute, then pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, egg substitute, milk, vanilla, rum, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F and bring bread to room temperature. Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 40 to 50 minutes. Top with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 342 calories; 4.5 g. fat; 84 mg. cholesterol; 378 mg. sodium; 64.6 g. carbohydrate; 1 g. fiber; 12.2 g. protein

Result: YUM-O! When I saw Renee rave about this recipe on her blog, I knew I had to try it. As if the title of the recipe wasn’t tempting enough. I made this in the morning and we had it for supper, but you could just as easily, and more traditionally, make it at night to serve the following morning. Super simple, absolutely delicious!

I want to continue making nutritious meals on Monday and Wednesday nights, but I think 1) I need to utilize the crock pot on these nights (or eat leftovers), and 2) I may need to go lighter on lunch and have a small, early dinner (4:30ish) before class and a snack afterward. I did the later last night — one piece of French toast before class and a fresh strawberry and banana smoothie for afterward. It worked well. 🙂

I am looking forward to a long workout and another healthy, homemade meal tonight. Lily is going to daycare so that after work I can get in a long run not feel guilty about it. Plus, she could use the exercise, too! 😉

Question: What’s your favorite quick and easy meal? Or a meal that can be prepped ahead of time?

P.S. Last chance to enter the LARABAR Giveaway! It ends TONIGHT!


Filed under Atkins, breakfast, carbohydrates, crock pot, dinner, dog, exercise, fruits and vegetables, Gina's WW Recipes, Giveaway, high-fructose corn syrup, pets, physical activity, recipe, running, snack, teaching, vegetarian

carnivores & omnivores, come in!

Crock pot trumps baking and grilling. For a lot of reasons.

  1. I made dinner with the switch of a button.
  2. I was home for work, done with my run, showered, and eating BY 7:30 pm. This is unheard of.
  3. Crock pot = tender, moist, flavorful meat.
  4. Dishes? What dishes? Thank you, crock pot liners. 😀

Unfortunately for me and my desired culinary compliments, Mr. Prevention decided day-old Dominos trumps Pork Carnitas. *eye roll* Fortunately for me, leftovers! Lots of leftovers! 😉

[Sorry it’s another pork recipe all my non-pork eaters! I already had the menu planned for the week!]

Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) adapted from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

2.5 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed
6 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
garlic powder
3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
2-3 6-7 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (to taste)
2 bay leaves
16 corn tortillas
2 avocados, to garnish
cilantro, to garnish

Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan on medium-high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers. Season pork generously with cumin, adobo and garlic powder all over.

Pour chicken broth in the crockpot, add bay leaves and chipotle peppers. Place pork in crock pot and cover. Cook low for 8 hours (mine was in there 11 hours and it was just fine!). After cooking, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumulated at the bottom. Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin (you will probably need to add more). Let it cook another 15-30 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving – 2 pork carnitas tacos with 2.5 ounces of meat each + avocado and tortillas): 441 calories; 23.5 g. fat; 91 mg. cholesterol; 575 mg. sodium; 30 g. carbohydrate; 5.5 g. fiber; 30 g.protein

Result: If you eat meat and you love savory, moist meat and Mexican food — this is a must-make! I think I’m going to make this next week for my bi-weekly taste test at work!

And yesterday I felt like I finally had my grooooove back! Work was AWESOME! I not only filled up EVERY available slot in my cooking classes coming up Monday evening (effortlessly!), but I also had one of those “moments” with a patient who is knocking on the door of insulin therapy to treat her diabetes. She lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks and gave me a huge hug after our 90-minute session and simply said….

“I’m so glad I met you.”

It is times like those I know that what I do is so important to others and changes LIVES. And THAT means so, so much to me. 🙂

…And Miss Lily had a BUSY day at Camp with the big dogs! Mr. Prevention picked her up and when I hopped off the treadmill I found her in this position:

She did not stir once. All night. So cute

…and such a productive evening for me catching up with everyone’s blogs and watching basketball 😀 I can only get on .com blogs from work (none of the .blogspots and .wordpress) — sucks!! 😦

Question: I learned this week that a lot of love Middle Eastern and Indian food…but if you could only eat one ethnic food variety for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Mexican for me, please! I never, ever, ever get sick of Mexican food!

~*Giveaway Alert!*~

Don’t miss out on Leah’s Celestial Seasonings Giveaway! Go here to enter!
And Holly is giving away Oikos coupons and an Oikos tote! Check it out here!
And LASTLY, Tina is giving away Apple Crisps! Check it out!


Filed under diabetes, diet, dietitians, dinner, dog, exercise, garlic, Gina's WW Recipes, low-carb, meat consumption, pets, physical activity, protein, recipe, running, weight loss, work

Chicken Enchiladas & Diabetes

Thank you for all the RD love! I had a wonderful day at work and came home for a nice 5-mile run and had leftovers…and a beer 🙂 I LOVED hearing from all the RD’s and RD’s-to-be — I had no idea I had so many readers who were pursing a career in dietetics! Wooo! So awesome! 😀

And on to the eats!!

Chicken Enchiladas adapted from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

For the sauce:

2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the chicken:

1 tsp vegetable oil
8.5 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast
1 cup diced onion
2 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro
kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce

8 (6-inch) reduced carb tortillas 4 large reduced carb whole wheat flour tortillas
1 cup shredded low fat Mexican cheese
Nonstick cooking spray


In a medium saucepan, spray oil and sauté garlic. Add chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Put 1/4th chicken mixture into each tortilla and roll it. Place on baking dish seam side down. Top with sauce and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes. Top with low fat sour cream or scallions if you wish (not included in nutrition information). Makes 8 4 enchiladas.

Nutrition Information (per enchilada): 271 calories; 9.5 g. fat; 56 mg. cholesterol; 20 g. carbohydrate; 9 g. fiber; 26 g. protein

SOOOOOO delicious! We give these a HUGE thumbs up! Who doesn’t love enchiladas made with homemade enchilada sauce? Mmmmmm! 😀


Today’s NNM Topic: Diabetes

Diabetes is my “specialty” – I should’ve posted about diabetes yesterday in honor of RD Day, huh? Oh well… 🙂

Diabetes is a serious and costly health problem with fatal complications when uncontrolled. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the US and is the result of too much sugar (i.e. glucose) in the blood. While glucose is the main source of energy in the body, elevated levels in the blood can lead to serious damage and complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure, and death.

Symptoms of high blood glucose include:
Frequent or excessive thirst
Frequent of excessive urination
“Sweet-smelling” urine
Weight loss
Extreme hunger
Blurred vision
Slow-healing wounds

Risk factors for diabetes:
Overweight or obesity
Family history
History of gestational diabetes
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Treatment for diabetes includes:
A carbohydrate controlled diet (not “low-carb”!!!) by means of carbohydrate counting
3 meals a day + an evening snack (carbohydrate + protein)
Regular exercise
Oral hypoglycemic agents (if indicated)
Insulin therapy (if indicated)
Blood glucose monitoring (daily or as indicated)

Because diabetes is a disease so hugely dependent upon diet and lifestyle changes, it makes working in this field very rewarding. Once a patient can understand what foods do for THEM in controlling their disease, my mission is a success. Diabetes is a highly individualized and intricate disease with lots of emphasis on prevention.

Question #1: Do you know someone with diabetes? Type 1 or Type 2? Have you ever tested your blood glucose?

Question #2: Have you ever made homemade enchiladas? 😉


Filed under blood glucose, carbohydrates, diabetes, diet, dietitians, exercise, fiber, Gina's WW Recipes, low-carb, National Nutrition Month, PCOS, physical activity, recipe, weight loss, work

Vodka Sauce & Pregnancy

…not together, obviously!

Penne alla Vodka adapted from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

2 tsp butter 50/50 Smart Balance Butter Blend
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
3 4 oz prosciutto, trimmed and chopped
1/8 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
12 oz uncooked (6 cups cooked) whole wheat penne

In a large sauté pan heat butter on a low flame. Add garlic and shallots and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add prosciutto and red pepper flakes and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, vodka, salt and pepper and cook on low, covered about 20 minutes. Add basil and half and half, mix well and cook another 5 minutes. Serve this over pasta and top with grated cheese. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving — approx. 1 cup): 405 calories; 7 g. fat; 19 mg. cholesterol; 450 mg. sodium; 61 g. carbohydrate; 11.2 g. fiber; 15 g. protein

Today’s NNM Topic: Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an important time to focus on nutrition — both macronutrients and micronutrients. Pregnant women require adequate folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Check out last week’s Q&A for more specifics on AMOUNTS of folic acid required.

During pregnancy, the amount of weight gain is dependent upon the mother’s pre-pregnancy weight. The more overweight a woman is at the time she conceives, the less weight she should gain (with a minimum weight gain of 15 pounds for overweight/obese women). Women with a BMI of 19.5-24.9 should look to gain 25-37 pounds during pregnancy. During the first trimester, no additional energy (calories) is needed. During the second and third trimesters an additional 300 calories are needed each day to support fetal growth. While 300 calories may sound significant this is less than a 10% increase for most women or the equivalent of a large snack each day, or 2 glasses of milk with a piece of fruit. Woman who breast feed, however, have their energy needs drastically increase to 700 additional calories each day — a good-sized meal for most individuals.

Poor diet and/or excessive intake during pregnancy not only results in excessive weight gain, but also puts the woman at increased risk for gestational diabetes, back pain, leg pain, high blood pressure, extreme fatigue, varicose veins, and cesarean delivery.


National Nutrition Month Theme: Nutrition From the Ground Up

The ADA is requesting bloggers to define the NNM theme in their own words, so I wanted to take a stab. The theme this year, Nutrition from the Ground Up, is consistent with the latest trends in nutrition. As of late, there has been a large movement to consume locally grown and organic produce, as well as a stronger emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as staples in the diet. And of course, these items come from the ground and are packed with nutrition — fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low caloric density.


Question: Were you breastfed? Do you believe in the benefits of breastfeeding? If you are mother or some-day-hope-to-be-a-mother, did you or do you plan to breastfeed your baby?

Interesting fact: When I interned at WIC during my dietetic internship, I learned from the lactation consultant that the benefits from breastfeeding are maximized during the first 6 months of breastfeeding. She explained that there are no additional benefits (nutritionally-speaking) to breastfeeding after 6 months of age.

And Faith of An Edible Mosaic…you win! I burned 844 calories hauling that dirt to my garden! You were only 11 calories off! Send me your address, girlie! I’ve got a Chobani coupon for you!

And a picture of one sleeeeepy puppy to brighten your day… 🙂

Have a great day-before-Friday! 😀


Filed under alcohol, Gina's WW Recipes, National Nutrition Month, pregnancy, recipe, weight gain

New reads & recipes…and a whole lot of thanks!

I’ve found some great new blogs to read, enjoy, and learn from this weekend. I haven’t “gotten out there” in the blog world due to limited time at the computer. Well, more like a lack of down time. So, check out some new blogs per my recommendation, why don’t ya!?

Andrea and Erin of Care to Eat  
Corinne of Green Grapes Blog 
Michelle of Lucky Taste Buds
Meredith of Pursuing Balance 
Tay of Taydor Tot
And on the topic of reading…Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncompagni is HILARIOUS! I’m only a few chapters in and am thoroughly enjoying it! Thank you, KG for the rec! Glad I asked for rec’s!! : )

I went to Akins Health Foods Store after my FIRST hockey game today. Other than Zevia’s price increase and the discontinued pumpkin apricot butter I’m obsessed with in my oats, it was a successful venture. As always. Check out the loot:
Going from left to right: organic quinoa, organic low-sodium chicken broth, organic almond granola, Terra Chips x 2, Tasty Thai organic pad thai dinner kit, Fiber Gourmet mac’n cheese, raw honey, and nutritional yeast flakes.
 For my oatmeal which will no longer be laden with pumpkin butter (*tear*), I purchased reduced-fat, organic coconut. I think vanilla soy milk + coconut flakes could be potentially mouth-watering additions to old-fashioned oats, eh?

And most importantly, I tried a new dish that is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I don’t say that very often, so believe it. This salad dressing is by far, hands down, shout-it-from-the-roof-tops phenom (and a recipe of Gina’s). Unless maybe you detest goat cheese, and then I question the reliability of your palate. Kidding…kinda. But really, if you decide to try something new in the future, consider this Honey Goat Cheese Dressing!!
Salad: mixed greens, diced apples, Craisins, and pecans topped with Honey Goat Cheese Dressing! Deliciousohhh! Husband seconds that claim, too!
Honey Goat Cheese Dressing
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp water
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Blend together, mixing until combined and creamy in texture.
46 calories per tablespoon
We also had sirloin steaks with bleu cheese topping. Mmmm! I’ve had red meat twice this month, that’s a near record for me. Typically, not a huge red meat fan. But bleu cheese steaks…hook a sistah up! I do believe this makes me a FLEXITARIAN!
bleu cheese smothered sirloin with buttermilk mashed potatoes 

Last night husband and I went out to dinner to a new Thai restaurant. Here’s what we ordered…

Tom Kah soup with tofu…SOO  GOOD!!

Husband got pineapple fried rice with seafood (which was okay, but it was canned pineapple…bummer!)

Chicken and Vegetable Curry for me…mmm!

I cannot believe tomorrow is our 6 month wedding anniversary! How beautiful was our Chicago wedding? Ahhh! Perfect, amazing day! 

It’s been a wonderful 6 months filled with an abundance of blessings…a new home, a WONDERFUL job, the cutest little puppy, and most importantly…our health and love for one another.
So tell me…
What are YOU thankful for this Thanksgiving?
What is your FAVORITE Thanksgiving dish?
What do you use nutritional yeast on/in?

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, Flexitarian Diet, Gina's WW Recipes, grocery store, holiday, marriage, recipe, salad

Recipes and Reform

Boy, do I have a treat for you all today! Go to Gina’s WW Recipes for some WONDERFUL and EASY recipes to try! My patient load is light today and I was able to spend some time perusing her blog this morning, saving TONS of recipes I’d like to try! If you enter your email address into her FeedBurner, you’ll never miss a great recipe delivered right to your inbox!
Today for lunch I ordered take-out from Chili’s Guiltless Grill (our microwave at work is still on the fritz)…the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich to be exact. It was really good! I was feeling great about my “Guiltless Grill” selection until I learned of the sodium…over 2,300 milligrams! Ahhh! At least the sandwich was only 386 calories, 7 grams of fat, and contained 9 grams of fiber??? :-/ Disappointing, Chili’s! Very disappointing! I’ve also been reading Gina’s blog, which has probably made me hypersensitive about sodium levels…which is a good thing!!!!!
Today for a snack I tried the Kay’s Naturals Honey Almond Protein Cereal (gluten-free). I love the crunch of a cereal, but would be interested to see if the crunch held when served with milk (I ate the cereal plain). Most gluten-free products are “airy” in taste, weight, and texture…and the Kay’s Naturals products are no exception. Though I should mention, I am a fan of the “light-weight” nature of gluten-free products…less bloat, I feel. The Honey Almond Protein Cereal is lightly sweetened, nothing over-powering which I prefer. Again, the portion size is excellent and one serving contains 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of protein! Nice work, Kay’s Naturals…I am LOVING your products! Thank you!!

And in the news…a feather in the caps of those like myself in prevention…
A new poll for American’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows the majority of Americans consider disease prevention the MOST important element of health care reform.

The US Department of Health and Human Services aimed to reduce obesity rates to 15% in every state before 2010 (baaahahaha!). However, the trend is showing movement in the opposite direction — obesity rates continuing to rise. As of 1991, no US state had an obesity rate over 20%. Today, only Colorado has an obesity rate under 20%.

In playing devil’s advocate I have to propose…DO we (as a nation) want to change, or are we just sick and tired of our ill-fate if trends continue? 
If you had to take a side in this debate, what do you feel is consensus for the nation as a whole
a) improve health through prevention (nutrition, exercise, and preventative health care)
b) continue Western medicine of treating the disease and not the problem

Leave a comment

Filed under blog, fiber, Gina's WW Recipes, Kay's Naturals, lunch, news, Obama, obesity epidemic, restaurant, sodium, US health care