Category Archives: herbs

Dinner Bucket List

Happy Hump Day!

Thank you so much for your votes of confidence in my new teaching adventure. I’m pumped for class #2 tonight. Yesterday as I was sitting at a local university’s cafe preparing my lesson plan, iPod blasting tunes, skim latte in reach — I had flash backs to being a student myself. Can I just say that I miss it? A lot. Those were the days…

My new schedule has me utilizing every free second of the day. I worked out yesterday morning (40 minutes on the elliptical) so that I could lesson plan after work. And because Lily is spoiled ROTTEN demanding, I went straight to the cafe rather than even TRYING to be productive at home. Rattling off a blog post is enough “neglect” to send the dog into a complete meltdown…I shudder to think what a lesson plan would lead to.

After my lesson planning and latte, I made a quick dinner before running off to Weight Watchers. I will write a full, in-depth review of the new POINTS Plus program after I become acquainted with it. I was less than impressed with the leader, but the members were very fun to talk with and get to know. But more on this next week — Monday or Tuesday, promise!

On to dinner.

Last night’s dinner was on my Bucket List of meals to make. Am I the only one with a Bucket List that revolves 100% around cooking? Don’t answer that, actually. I’ve seen lasagna roll-ups on lots of blogs, in cookbooks, on the internet…everywhere! They are just one of those meals that you can’t wait to dig into. Picture perfect, even. And just…ingenious. Says the girl who loves “cute” food. Without further adieu, lasagna roll-ups!

Lasagna Roll-Ups adapted from Homemade by Holman

8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 pound lean ground turkey (93/7 or leaner)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 egg
1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 3 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Heat a large pot of water to boiling over high heat.  When it reaches a boil,  add a pinch of salt, and drop in the noodles.  Stir occasionally and cook to just al dente.  Drain noodles and set aside.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add turkey and brown.  When almost cooked through, add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add 1/2 the basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg.  Add ricotta, Parmesan and remaining basil and oregano and stir together.  Spray pan lightly with cooking spray.  Add enough sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  To assemble, on a drained noodle, add a spoonful of ricotta mixture.  Top with a spoonful of meat sauce and roll up.  Place seam side down in pan.  Continue until you’ve used all the noodles.  Top each with a little more meat sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining crushed red pepper flakes.  Bake approximately 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serves 4 (2 roll-ups per serving).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 387 calories; 14.5 g. fat; 119 mg. cholesterol; 579 mg. sodium; 38.3 g. carbohydrate; 8 g. fiber; 7.5 g. sugar; 30.3 g. protein

Result: Mr. Prevention loved this dish, and so did I. He says, “It was really good…I ate like all of it.” Which, he did eat 2 servings worth, but that’s pretty much on par for Mr. P and his appetite. The roll-ups were less labor-intensive than I would’ve imagined. The dinner came together in about 35 minutes and then baked for 20 minutes, which I find very reasonable. The roll-ups, conveniently, can be made ahead of time and heated later. I love that the calorie content is low and there’s lots of fiber and protein — very filling, and it pairs perfectly with a light tossed salad. Enjoy! 😀

A quick lesson in ricotta. There is low-fat and part-skim ricotta. Low-fat is 60 calories/serving while part-skim is 80 calories/serving. I am ashamed to admit that I have never paid close enough attention to the fact that both of these lower-fat options exist. Alas,  paying attention saved me some calories and saturated fat this time and in the future!

Question: What’s on your “dinner bucket list”?

Don’t forget to enter my LARABAR Giveaway! TEN winners!!!

Be well, Eat well.

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Filed under coffee, dinner, exercise, fiber, garlic, Giveaway, grocery store, healthy cooking, herbs, recipe, reduced-calorie, saturated fat, teaching, Weight Watchers

Savory Leek Bread Pudding

Thank you for all the Christmas wishes! I do hope everyone had a blessed, safe, and healthy holiday!

My day after Christmas started with a delicious breakfast and a 5 1/2 mile run/walk on the treadmill — I warmed up walking 1/4 mile, ran 3, walked 1/4 mile, ran 1 1/2, and cooled down walking 1/2 mile. Felt good!

We are off to do some gift returns, but I wanted to post a recipe we tried the week before Christmas. It’s on the lighter side and very good!

Savory Leek Bread Pudding adapted from “Ad Hoc At Home” and Eats Well with Others

3-4 cups leeks (about 3), cut 1/2-inch thick, white and light green parts only
Kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
12 cups (about a 1lb 8 ounce loaf) multi-grain bread
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh chive leaves
3 large eggs
6 cups almond skim cow’s milk
freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Emmenthaler or 10 ounces (~10 slices) reduced-fat Swiss cheese

Directions:

Place a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  Drain excess water from leeks and add to pan.  Season with salt and saute until leeks begin to soften, about five minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in butter.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 30 minutes.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350.  While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 20-30 minutes, turning pan about halfway through.  Transfer to a LARGE bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl with the bread and mix well.  In another large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan.  Top with half of the bread cube mixture.  Sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese.  Top with remaining bread. Sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese.  Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread and gently press on bread so that it gets soaked with the milk.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude.  Sprinkle with salt and remaining cheese.  Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 1 1/2 hours.  Serve hot. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving, about 1 1/3 cups): 201 calories; 2.9 g. fat; 65 mg. cholesterol; 330 mg. sodium; 27.6 g. carbohydrate; 1.8 g. fiber; 9.4 g. sugar; 15 g. protein

Result: This was so tasty! I love bread pudding! My only caution with this recipe is that it makes a TON and it does not reheat well in the microwave. It reheated fine in the oven, but the microwave was no good — it just turned soggy and ick. So make this for a crowd, or cut the recipe in 1/2 or 1/4th. Enjoy!

Question: Do you prefer a savory or sweet bread pudding? And more importantly, did Santa bring you anything good this year? 😉

Happy holidays,

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Filed under carbohydrates, dinner, exercise, herbs, holiday, recipe, running, Uncategorized, vegetarian

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

Being the cold, rainy, dreary day that was yesterday, the last thing I wanted to do was workout. I just wanted to snuggle up on the couch with some hot cocoa and Big 10/ACC Challenge basketball. Alas, I pounded out a quick 5K and my desired lazy evening was truly more enjoyable. 😉

My complete laziness didn’t last long and I started unpacking some of our Christmas stuff. I guess Christmas music on my way home from work put me in the holiday spirit! I got a little giddy when I ran across some Christmas items I stole during a game of Dirty Santa last Christmas Eve. Other than our tablecloth tradition, my family has started playing Dirty Santa instead of the adults all exchanging gifts. It’s a blast!

Last year for Christmas, Mr. P and I got a treadmill as a joint gift and it was the best gift/investment we’ve made. We’ve put over 1,000 miles on the treadmill even with outdoor running, hockey, and other activities. It gets a lot of use! This year, we’re considering adding an elliptical to our home gym, however there is a brand new YMCA opening up 2 miles from our house in June 2011. I miss group exercise classes and know I’ll want to join. I’m trying to convince Mr. P that we I will utilize a treadmill, elliptical, and gym membership. 🙂

I digress. Dinner! After unpacking our Christmas stuff, I knew a comforting soup would be the ideal thing to go in my Christmas dishes, and so that is what I did 🙂 You gotta love when dinner plans itself.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup adapted from Foodologie

1 Tsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced, white part only
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add leeks and garlic, cook until leeks are tender about 10 mins.  Add potatoes and thyme, cook for 10 more minutes. Add broth and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25-35 minutes.

In a small bowl mix cream and half and half with a bit of the soup, add mixture to the rest of pot.  Add salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth with an immersion blender or blender. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 282 calories; 10 g. fat; 25 mg. cholesterol; 310 mg. sodium; 41 g. carbohydrate; 5.5 g. fiber; 6 g. protein

Result: This was absolutely delicious! Next time, I think I will substitute all half and half or low-fat milk for the heavy whipping cream — it was plenty creamy and you can shave an additional 20 calories/serving with that change. The soup was super easy, came together in 35 minutes from start to finish, and most importantly, it got a thumbs up from Mr. Prevention. 🙂

Question: What’s on your wish list this holiday season?

P.S. An interesting article on vitamin D after all that talk yesterday!

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Filed under dinner, exercise, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, holiday, physical activity, recipe, reduced-calorie, vegetarian

Chili Contest: Entry 10

The chili contest cooking has come to a close.

Am I chili-ed out? Eh, kinda. But I am looking forward to rewarming a small portion of each entry and declaring a winner!! Mr. Prevention will participate, of course. The winner will be determined next weekend during the Illini’s last regular season game against Fresno State. Thank you again to all the participants! This football season has been memorable and delicious! 😀

Chicken Chili from The Tiny Tyrant’s Kitchen

1 pound chicken breast
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cans low-sodium chicken broth
3 cans great northern white beans (1 drained)
1 can corn, drained
1 cup water
2 small cans green chilies
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped
2 Tbsp adobe sauce from chipotle peppers
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
optional toppers: sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro (not accounted for in nutrition info)

Directions:

Add chicken to slow cooker. Add 1/2 can chicken broth, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon garlic. Cook on high for 3 hours.

Drain and remove chicken. Shred chicken with two forks. Add chicken back to crock pot.

Chop bell pepper, chipotle peppers, and cilantro. Add to crock pot. Add remaining ingredients to crock pot. Cook on high for 1 hour.

Cook on low for 3 additional hours. Serve topped with sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, and cilantro (not accounted for in nutrition information). Serves 8.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 229 calories; 1.4 g. fat; 28 mg. cholesterol; 989 mg. sodium; 33.6 g. carbohydrate; 11.9 g. fiber; 23.8 g. protein

Result: Mr. Prevention binged on Buffalo Chicken Dip and didn’t try this chili…not that he was opposed to it, but nothing can compete with his crack dip…nothing. But, there are lots of leftovers and this will be dinner tonight 😀 The chili is a spicy, broth-based chili. The nutrition stats are phenomenal, and there is lots of flavor. Definitely not your traditional chili OR white chicken chili, but a great change or pace. I LOVE chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and paired with cilantro…yum-o!! Enjoy!

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Sodium Content of Canned Beans

I wanted to take this opportunity to say 1) December’s Cooking Light issue was a complete disappointment. Maybe it’s just me but there were only 5 or so recipes that even piqued my interest. Normally, there’s all but 2 recipes and the ads NOT ripped out! But more importantly, 2) there was a question on the “Ask Our RD” section about sodium and canned goods. …About time.

The reader question asked: Just how much sodium is reduced by rinsing and draining a can of chili beans?

The RD responded by saying that draining beans reduced the sodium by 36% (according to a 2009 study by the University of Tennessee researchers) and rinsing the beans reduces the sodium by an additional 5% for a total of 41% LESS sodium. That’s HUGE!!! I wish I had the time to go through the 10 chili recipes (and others!) to calculate the reduction in sodium, but I don’t right now…maybe someday! Regardless, this is great news and good to know! So, rinse and drain and eat 41% less salt in the process! Woo!

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Coming up this week will be posts on my weekend baking adventures: Buckeyes and White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge!!!! We are traveling to Illinois on Tuesday night for Thanksgiving so we’ll be clearing out of fridge of must-go’s this week….no cooking for me! At least nothing too fancy 😉

Question: Are you a leftover lover or hater?

I love leftovers! Sack lunches never interested me much, and I love knowing that my lunch meal is healthier and cheaper than what I could pack or purchase elsewhere! Mr. P on the other hand finds leftover to be “too heavy” for lunch. Yet, anything from a deep fryer or in pizza form is acceptable. THIS claim I will never be able to wrap my brain around. Men…

Off to work (Ew! 😦 ),

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Filed under Cooking Light, crock pot, dietitians, dinner, fiber, fried food, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, holiday, recipe, research study, sodium, work

Tis better to give than to receive…

Waffle taste test day #1 went so well! I wanted to take pictures, but obviously HIPPA wouldn’t be down with that. And while the patients loved the waffles (staff, too!)…the waffles were not the highlight of my day.

With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday we used a turkey giveaway reward to encourage patients to have their albumin and phosphorus labs at goal for October and November and not to miss any dialysis treatments during that time. Eight patients of our 97 at the clinic met the challenge and their names were posted on fliers around the clinic congratulating them.

One of the turkey winners came up to me during the taste test and asked that his turkey be given to a patient who does not always have money for food, much less healthy food. I tried to keep from tearing up and was happy to grant the patient’s wish. A little earlier than most years, the holiday bug bit me right then and there. It truly is better to give than it is to receive.

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Tortilla Soup from An Edible Mosaic

1 Tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 3 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 oz tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can petit diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 cup corn (frozen is fine)
3-4 cup cooked, shredded chicken or turkey (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbsp cold water (called a cornstarch slurry)
1/2 cup to 1 cup minced fresh cilantro (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper

Crispy Tortilla Strips:
3 small (about 6-inch) soft corn tortillas, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp canola oil

Directions:

For the soup: In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat the oil on medium heat; add the onion and sauté until starting to soften (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute), stirring constantly.  Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add 5 cups water along with the bouillon cube, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes.  Bring the soup up to a boil, then add the corn, cover the pot, and simmer 15 minutes (stirring occasionally).

Preheat the oven to 425° F.  Toss the tortilla strips with the oil, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden (about 5-7 minutes), giving them a stir every couple minutes so they don’t burn.

To the soup, add the cooked chicken or turkey and the beans and cook 3 minutes.  Add the cornstarch slurry, bring it up to a boil, and let it boil for 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat, add the cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve garnished with toppings of your choice (lime, scallions, Greek yogurt, tortilla chips, cheese, avocado, etc.). Serves 8.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 272 calories; 5.3 g. fat; 41 mg. cholesterol; 377 mg. sodium; 36.6 g. carbohydrate; 5.9 g. fiber; 26.4 g. protein

Result: Simple and delicious…and super duper healthy! The ingredient list looks long, but it’s all ingredients most cooks have on hand. The only change I would make would be using low-sodium chicken broth in place of the 5 cups of water + 1 bouillon cube. The sodium content is nice and low, but I think a bit more flavor would help the base of the soup. Another jalapeno, too…we like spicy! I did add a bit more cumin…I just couldn’t stop at 1 1/2 teaspoons, cumin is a favorite spice of mine and it’s hard to use too much. Enjoy! 😀

Question: Do you like pecan pie? Or do you prefer pumpkin?

I am a pecan pie girl, which Cooking Light reminded me is one of the least healthy holiday pie selections. Oh well, Thanksgiving only comes once a year!

Tis the season,

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Filed under carb-controlled, challenge, Cooking Light, dialysis & kidney disease, dinner, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, holiday, low-carb, recipe, sodium, Uncategorized, water, work

iPod, play that workout!

It was 70° and sunny yesterday afternoon when our clinic secretary pulled me into her office to let me know I was over on my hours for the week. I’m salaried, so it’s not like it much mattered, but I appreciated the heads up. I was up and outta there by 2pm! 😀 On my drive home, I decided that I would take advantage of the Indian summer by taking Lily to the dog park and running outside. The treadmill has been seeing far too much action lately.

Not quite feeling the workout, I took Lily to the dog park first. She’s always excited to ride in the car, hanging her head out the back windows. I laugh looking in my side mirrors, watching her chubby cheeks flap in the wind.

We were at a stop light…photographing while driving is undoubtedly more dangerous than make-up application, reading, and whatever other bizarre multi-tasking people accomplish while behind the wheel

So the dog park was fun and done, and that left my run.

I didn’t wanna do it…

Enter: 10 minute rule.

I threw on my Asics and headed for the door, iPod in hand, Garmin on my wrist. If after 10 minutes you want to stop, fine. Weenie. I start my iPod and the first song started playing: I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas. Run, run…all 4 minutes and 7 seconds of the song. And then I really didn’t want to run any more. Sorry for ya, lazy. 5 minutes and 53 seconds to go!

😦

Next song: Jai Ho from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack (). Sweet. Run, run…all 3 minutes and 46 seconds. Not quite to 10 minutes yet. Dang. Next up: Time of Your Life, Green Day. Not motivating…next song. Bad Romance, Lady Gaga. 4 minutes and 46 seconds. Finish this song and then you can stop, Nicole. I mean, weenie. WEENIE!!!!!!

I stopped.

…And then I felt guilty. I was going to give into the 10 minute rule for no reason other than it wasn’t an effortless run. I re-assessed the situation. Okay, self…jog during “fast” songs and walk during “slow” songs. The iPod shuffle will determine your workout, just do it….all 4 miles you had planned.

And so my workout was determined by my iPod’s song shuffle. Note to self: download some Beethoven and Vivaldi ASAP. Nice and sloowwww.

12:09/mile (the pace was ’cause I was standing in my kitchen 🙂 )

Unimpressive, but accomplished. (Barely.)

Luckily for me (and Mr. Prevention), dinner was successful.

Sage Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella and Prosciutto from Cooking Light

2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter
1  cup finely chopped leek
2  garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2  to 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1  cup (4 ounces) finely chopped fresh mozzarella cheese
2 ounces prosciutto, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Sage sprigs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer and bake for 20-30 minutes or until crispy (some cuts are thicker than others, just be sure it doesn’t burn!)

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add leek and garlic; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in chopped sage, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in mozzarella. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 1/2 tablespoons crumbled prosciutto. Sprinkle with black pepper. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.

Nutrition Information (for 1/4th of recipe, about ~1 1/4 cup): 443 calories; 12.3 g. fat (7 g. saturated, 3 g. polyunsaturated, 1 g. monounsaturated); 43 mg. cholesterol; 863 mg. sodium; 60 g. carbohydrate; 1.4 g. fiber; 18.8 g. protein

Result: Mr. Prevention was a huge fan of this risotto! We agreed, there is nothing “light” tasting about this recipe…the mozzarella melts to perfection creating those long, luscious strings of cheesy yumminess when you plate the risotto. The only change I made was crisping the prosciutto. The portion size is filling and very satisfying. You gotta love feeling like you’re cheating even when you’re on your best behavior 😉

Question: What multi-tasking are you guilty of while driving? And any great motivational tricks to get through the tough workouts?

If you don’t like me on Facebook, wouldja couldja? 😉

TGIF!

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Filed under carbohydrates, Cooking Light, dinner, dog, exercise, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, pets, physical activity, recipe, running, vegetarian, wine, work

Q&A and Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding

Apologies for taking so long to get to your questions…all 2 of them! You guys used to be so inquisitive, what happened?! Have I simply answered your every last nutrition question? Doubtful 😉 Don’t be shy!

Heather from Get Healthy with Heather: Could you share if the nutritional value changes in yogurt that you strain yourself?   Would the stats of regular plain yogurt that you strain be similar to thick greek yogurt?

Prevention RD: I wish I had an exact answer for you, but I don’t. Homemade Greek yogurt (which can be made in a yogurt maker, crock pot, or simply by straining regular yogurt) has the water strained out so that the consistency of the yogurt is thicker and the protein concentration is greater (due to the lessened volume). How much water is left in homemade yogurt one will never know. You can strain the yogurt to simply be a thicker yogurt, or thick enough you can cut it with a knife. The more water you strain out, the higher the calorie (and protein/fat) content in the same size serving. The calories are slightly higher for commercial Greek yogurt when compared to regular yogurt — fat-free plain Greek yogurt clocks in at about 15 calories and 2.5 grams of protein per ounce while fat-free plain yogurt contains 13 calories and 1.5 grams of protein. Assuming the consistency is similar to your favorite plain Greek yogurt, the nutritional information will be very, very similar. I hope this helps!

Samantha from Bikini Birthday: A friend of mine recently started the Eat Clean Diet. I don’t know the specifics of the diet but I do know that she has been eliminating things such as refined white foods, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods in favour of more nutritious whole foods. Lately she has been feeling light-headed, dizzy, and has experienced a slump in energy that she attributes to her new diet. I’ve heard that people sometimes experience negative symptoms when they start a new diet. What’s your take?

Prevention RD: Firstly, I just want to profess my HATRED for the word “clean” used in regards to food. Not only does it not make sense to me, but it puts a totally negative “shame on you” connotation with anything listed as “unclean”. I’m a firm believer that health must encompass balance. ::Stepping off my soap box::The Clean Eating Diet encourages unprocessed, wholesome foods and exercise. The diet “guidelines,” as far as I can tell, include: 1) eating 5-6 times a day, 2) eating 200-300 calories at a time, 3) eating complex carbohydrate with protein at every meal, 4) drinking at least 8 cups of water daily, 5) never skipping a meal, especially breakfast, 6) avoiding saturated and trans-fats, and 7) sticking to appropriate portion sizes. The diet allows for 1 “cheat” meal a week, which thus requires meal plan compliance 97-98% of the time — a difficult task for most anyone. Moreover, are “appropriate” portion sizes really 200-300 calories? Certainly not for the traditional 3 meals with small snacks style of eater.

Now that we know what the diet entails, I don’t know why your friend is feeling that way. Her symptoms are consistent with a very low carbohydrate diet, but not the diet described above (maybe she’s not following it correctly?). It is important to have some carbohydrate, preferrably complex (fiber-containing), at every meal, along with some protein for satiation and blood glucose control. The average adult requires a MINIMUM of 130 grams of carbohydrate in the diet to prevent the body from using protein and fat for energy. Carbohydrates are the most usable form of energy in the body and are required for proper bodily function both at the muscular level and cellular level. Maybe she’s falling under this recommended guideline?

Some people experience negative symptoms after making major changes in the diet because they’re body requires an adjustment period. It could also be that they’re cutting out a major food group (carbs are something people love to banish), and that will certainly wreak havok on their bodies, especially at first. Balance and moderation are always key for restricting healthfully to produce weight loss. I hope that helps…sorry it’s so long!

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Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding from Giada

Filling:
Cooking spray
8 ounces multi-grain loaf, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 1 1/3 cups (6 5 ounces) shredded Parmesan

Custard:
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Filling: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray a 9 by 13 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Add the bread cubes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture and Parmesan cheese over the bread cubes and combine well.

Custard: In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat. Bake until slightly puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pudding from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 217 calories; 11.6 g. fat; 182 mg. cholesterol; 600 mg. sodium; 15.8 g. carbohydrate; 1.4 g. fiber; 13.8 g. protein

Result: I absolutely LOVED this recipe…it was like bruschetta bake! When I saw it on Giada’s show last week I know I had to have it. The basil was spendy, but worth it…the flavor was so wonderful. I also recommend splurging on the whole milk, it was incredibly thick and creamy, and I just don’t know that fat-free or even 1% milk would do the same. Mr. Prevention loved how the bread was crusty and the tomatoes and “pudding” were tender. It was a very well-balanced and simple dish and paired beautifully with those White Wine Steamed Mussels! Mmmmm!

I am getting so excited about Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to see my family and be home for the holidays, how about you?

Question: What’s one food at Thanksgiving that your family always serves?

My Grannie always made a pineapple souffle that was out of this world. We haven’t had it in a few years since Grannie stopped cooking, but I’ve decided that tradition must go on! Pssst, mom…you still owe me that recipe!!

Already playing Christmas music…

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Filed under blog topic request, carbohydrates, diet, dinner, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garlic, healthy cooking, herbs, Italy, low-carb, protein, recipe, reduced-calorie, Uncategorized, weight loss