Category Archives: wine

Beer Cheese Soup (Lightened Up)

Thanks for the accountability, folks. I pounded out a quick 5K before pouring a glass of Pinot Grigio last night. It was just one of those weeks, and the only thing getting me through Thursday and Friday was the thought of a happy hour drink come Friday. It’s the little things in life.

Mr. Prevention and I did a whole lot of NOTHING last night other than catching up with the DVR, and it was glorious. We were planning to go out to eat, but Mr. P has had some really early hours this week (hello, 4:30am…ew), and staying it just seemed like the right things to do πŸ™‚ Of course, Mr. Prevention insisted on leftover pizza for dinner and I would have nothing of it. I had my mind set on bigger, better, and cheesier things. πŸ˜‰

I had never heard of Beer Cheese Soup until a week ago. And since then, it’s all I’ve wanted. Beer? Please. Always. Cheese? Please. Always. I know I’m not alone here. Well, I wanted the soup, not the calories and fat. So, I remedied that and the result was glooorious.

I don’t know about you, but when my love for nutrition and great-tasting food can come together, it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. Of course this soup isn’t the most nutritious thing ever, but it sure as heck is way lower in calories and fat than the original version or a dinner out, so there! I justify my guiltless indulgence in this most decadent soup!

Beer Cheese Soup adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

4 Tbsp butter Smart Balance Light
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled & chopped fine
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 12-ounce bottle beer (I used Great Lakes Pale Ale)
2 cups 2% milk
12 oz 75% reduced-fat Cabot cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz American Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tsp cornstarch
Table salt & ground black pepper


Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion and carrots until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, beer, and milk. Bring mixture to simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently (do not boil) until carrots are very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

Toss shredded cheeses and cornstarch in large bowl until well combined. Puree soup in blender in 2 batches until completely smooth, return to saucepan, and simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in cheese mixture, 1 cup at a time, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information: 344 calories; 16 g. fat; 43 mg. cholesteorl; 652 mg. sodium; 19.3 g. carbohydrate; 1.2 g. fiber; 6.2 g. sugar; 28.2 g. protein

Result: Oh la la, this is AMAZING! 75% reduced fat, what? Doesn’t matter. Delicious, and way less guilt involved. Enjoy!

Question: What’s one word you always spell wrong?

I have trouble with “occasion” (don’t know why..) and “Hanukkah” — I always spell that wrong.

Happy weekend! Gift wrapping, hair cut, workout, Illinois basketball, and date night are on my calendar! πŸ˜€

Be well,



Filed under beer, dining out, dinner, exercise, garlic, pizza, recipe, reduced-calorie, saturated fat, vegetarian, wine, work

iPod, play that workout!

It was 70Β° 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! πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ™‚ )

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
1Β  cup finely chopped leek
2Β  garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2Β  to 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1Β  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)


Preheat oven to 350Β° 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 sautΓ© 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 πŸ˜‰

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? πŸ˜‰



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


EDIT: This is my 500th post!!!!! Time flies when you’reΒ  having fun!!!


A quick hair update: It is no longer PURPLE! Thanks for all of your hair disaster advice. After placing that awkward phone call yesterday morning, the salon scheduled me in to get things fixed. Sixty minutes of bleaching later, it was much improved. Not back to normal, but I don’t look like Barney…a small big victory!


Apparently I’m just full of grocery store stories, because I’ve got another one for ya.

When I was oogling over the king crab legs this weekend, I also found LIVE mussels for $4.99/3 lbs!!! Holy good deal on seafood…sold! The lady at the seafood counter put the mussels in a bad and told me to leave it open so they could breathe. She instructed me to place them on ice in a bowl, in the fridge when I got home and to eat them within 48 hours. Okay, cool.

So then I’m checking out at the grocery store and my mussels didn’t have a price tag. The checker asked the bag boy (a young teenage guy) to run back to the seafood department and get a price. He grabbed the bag, cutting off air flow to the mussels. When he got to the seafood department he was quickly scolded with a, “Open that bag!! Let them BREATHE!!!” Very confused, the teen quickly put 2 and 2 together — the seafood in his hands was ALIVE.

He got the price and returned to the check out line with a disgusted look on his face. “You do know these things are ALIVE, right?” he says to me. I smile, very aware of the living creatures I want to take home, steam, and enjoy πŸ˜€ The poor kid turned a faint shade of green and I’m a bit surprised he didn’t throw up right then and there. Hilarious.

His loss. Mussels are amazing! πŸ˜€

However, I had never steamed live mussels myself. [Thank goodness they don’t scream like lobsters when you drop them in boiling water. The animal lover in me wouldn’t handle that very well…that much I know.]

Mussels show no signs of life until you tap the slightly opened ones on the counter to see if they close completely. If they close, obviously they’re alive. If they’re open and don’t close with a tap, they’re dead and should not be eaten. Easy enough, and talk about entertaining. ::tap tap tap::




Note: 1 out of every 8-10 mussels were dead — not too many.


White Wine Steamed Mussels

1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp Smart Balance Light
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 lbs live mussels, or more


Discard any opened mussels. Scrub mussels to remove dirt, sand, etc. In a large pot, combine the wine, butter, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Put mussels into pot and cover with a lid. Steam over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until mussels open. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information (approximate): Mussels are ~14 calories/ea.; 0.3 g. fat; 1.9 g. protein

Result: Just as good as in Italy! Maybe even better πŸ˜‰ I’ll admit to be intimidated by steaming live mussels but this was CAKE! Mr. Prevention was totally impressed and even asked, “Were they hard to make?” Far from…ready in 10 minutes from start to finish! They are a great protein addition to a more intricate side dish. And healthy!

(Random) Question: What’s your favorite animal?

I LOVE penguins! Bulldogs are cute, too…but they’re sure demanding πŸ˜‰

I’ll share the delicious side dish I served with those stunning mussels tomorrow… πŸ˜‰

Mussel up,


Filed under butter, dinner, dog, garlic, grocery store, healthy cooking, Italy, low-carb, Mediterranean diet, pets, protein, recipe, Uncategorized, wine

Spicy Linguine with Scallops

I made the mistake of watching Giada at Home before work yesterday. While I had nothing planned for dinner, I decided to modify her Spicy Linguine with Clams and Mussels recipe…it just looked SO good, even at 6am! πŸ˜‰

Spicy Linguine with Clams and Mussels Scallops from Giada

1 pound whole wheat linguine pasta
2 Tbsp unsalted butter Smart Balance Light, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small shallots, sliced
Kosher salt, for seasoning, plus 2 teaspoons
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning, plus 1 teaspoon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
12 littleneck clams, cleaned
12 mussels, cleaned
1 pound scallops


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the butter and parsley basil and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sauce: In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, red pepper flakes, and scallops. Season with pepper, to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook until all the shellfish have cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the shellfish from the pan and reserve. Season the cooking liquid with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour the shellfish cooking liquid over the pasta and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the reserved shellfish on top of the pasta and serve. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 397 calories; 7.7 g. fat; 40 mg. cholesterol; 245 mg. sodium; 57.8 g. carbohydrate; 0 g. sugar; 8 g. fiber; 27.8 g. protein

Result: Delicious! I loved that this recipe tasted totally authentic and can easily be adapted for any seafood protein. I am big on authentic Italian and classic broth and wine-based sauces are not only tasty, but healthier! πŸ˜€


Thanks for all of your comments on the flu shot yesterday…they were all very insightful. I don’t know what I am going to do yet. Many of you in the health care field were in support of the flu shot, and I certainly work with immuno-compromised patients. Decisions, decisions.

I have nothing else to report…I haven’t worked out since my hockey game on Sunday evening and I am slowly nursing this cold away! The sore throat has turned into watery eyes and a runny nose. Ick! I am just hoping to be back to good by Friday — Mr. Prevention and I have Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets tickets for Friday night πŸ˜€

Question: Do you enjoy seafood? If so, what is your favorite kind?

I love crab most, but all seafood gets a thumbs up from me! πŸ˜€



Filed under Italy, recipe, Uncategorized, wine

keeping a salad healthy & flu shots: yay or nay?

I was talking with a new patient at our clinic yesterday and when I started asking his food preferences he immediately confessed that he didn’t like salads, or most vegetables outside of corn, potatoes, and peas…and I hadn’t mentioned a peep about anything fruit or vegetable-related…yet. I could sense that he was slightly defensive and definitely preparing himself mentally for the “Vegetable Police” to start raking him over the coals. Fortunately for him (and myself and others), I am far from the anything police and I definitely take the approach of meeting people where they are in order to make small, meaningful, and lasting changes in their diet.

Same goes for myself, promise. It’s funny to me how many people think dietitian = salad fiend. To the contrary, salads are an item I rarely “crave” and if given an option between a salad and another entree at a restaurant, I’d likely prefer the other entree. In addition, many restaurant salads are loaded with calories and fat. My general rule of thumb for salads is to choose ONE of the following high-calorie salad toppings: nuts, seeds, cheese, or dried fruit. It’s not uncommon to see ALL of the above additions on many salads offered at dining establishments, making them a not-so-healthy option.

I had a perfect fall salad last night featuring some of my favorite in-season fresh fruits: figs, pomegranate, and honeycrisp apple…along with my high-calorie (nutrient-dense) sunflower seeds all atop a huge bed of arugula and drizzled with Girard’s Apple Poppyseed dressing.


And because Mr. Prevention passed along his cold before heading out of town for work, I also had half of a can of good’ol tomato soup…

Being sick in warm weather is the worst!! At least it was down to 70Β° last night when I ate my soup outside! And I must admit, not cooking a meal OR exercising last night made for a relaxing evening with Lily, TV, and then a great book πŸ˜€

Speaking of exercise (or lack thereof) and illness…

I get asked a lot if it’s “bad” to workout if you’re ill. In my opinion, unless you’re running a fever, it’s perfectly okay to workout so long as you listen to your body. However, taking a few days off to recuperate from an illness can be more beneficial than pushing through a workout that’s either too much physically or mentally. No one knows your symptoms and body better than yourself so I firmly believe that you have to give the body what it needs, and often times that is rest during illness.

Question: What’s your opinion of flu shots? Do you typically get one each year…why or why not?

Flu shot clinics are popping up EVERYWHERE here in central Ohio and I am not well-versed on the topic. I have personally only received one flu shot in my adult life. Why? Because I haven’t had the flu in my adulthood. *KNOCK ON WOOD* I (probably falsely) rationalize that I’ve fared well thus far during flu season, why jinx it? Impart on me your flu shot wisdom and opinions, please!

Be well,


Filed under condiments, dietitians, dining out, dinner, exercise, fruits and vegetables, physical activity, recipe, salad, vegetarian, wine

An Illini loss & mushroom bolognese.

Monday mornings are always tough, but they’re even worse when 1) you spend ALL of Sunday in the car (…and miss your hockey game because you get stuck in 2 hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic in Indianapolis 😦 ) and 2) when your puppy has to go in for surgery. Send thoughts and prayers Lily’s way as today is her eye surgery. Thank you in advance to all the Lily lovers out there…trust me when I say she loves you back! Lots! …with kissies, too!

The weekend was a blast, despite the Illini’s fall to #2 Ohio State. At least we gave them a run for their money.

I took a few pictures with my digi cam. My laptop and DSLR were left at home so I was completely unplugged (other than the 15 minutes I spent meal planning at my in-laws). Mr. Prevention said on the way home, “I can’t believe you went without your laptop all weekend…and your camera.” Seriously. My laptop and I are like one in the same…and once in awhile, it’s nice to unplug and limit technologies.

Campus was in the spirit…

We were in row 2 so we got a close-up of Bruce Weber (Illini Head Basketball Coach) and the team

And a close-up of Brutus…

Proof that we were in it to win it!

And we caught an Illini hockey game, too πŸ˜€ We won 5-4.

It was an awesome weekend πŸ™‚

As soon as we got home, we unloaded the car and I went straight to the grocery store to get ready for the week. My sanity is meal planning, and out of town for the weekend or not, I have to go into Monday prepared for the week. Starting with a yummy Sunday dinner.

Mushroom Bolognese from Cooking Light

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 pound ground pork
8 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1Β  (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whole milk (I used half-and-half because I had it on hand)
10 ounce uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti tubes
1Β  Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Combine porcini and boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 20 minutes or until soft. Drain porcini in a colander lined with a paper towel over a bowl, reserving liquid. Rinse and chop porcini.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and pork; cook 10 minutes or until pork is browned, stirring to crumble pork. Add cremini mushrooms, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add porcini; cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add reserved porcini liquid and wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes as necessary. Stir in milk; cook 2 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; top with cheese and parsley. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 344 calories; 8.6 g. fat (2.9 g. saturated); 34 mg. cholesterol; 544 mg. sodium; 49.6 g. carbohydrate; 9.6 g. fiber; 22.1 g. protein

Result: If you love mushrooms, you will fall in love with this bolognese. The wine and mushrooms compliment each other so beautifully. You get the sweetness of the wine first, and then the savory, hearty, rich flavor of the mushrooms. I don’t recommend skimping on the mushrooms and using something other than cremini…they are meatier than button mushrooms and hold together through the cooking process. Yum, yum, yum…and the same review came from Mr. P πŸ˜€ Nutritionally speaking, also a home run. The dish is loaded with veggies and fiber, low in saturated fat, moderate carbohydrate, and a good source of protein. A winner all around!

Despite the recipe calling for white wine, a dry red wine pairs beautifully with the dish!

Question: Mushrooms — love’em or hate’em? And just for fun…what’s your favorite sport to watch?

Be well,


Filed under Cooking Light, dinner, dog, fiber, fruits and vegetables, grocery store, healthy cooking, hockey, pets, recipe, travel, wine

better late than never…

A late post today!

So you remember those YUMMY no-bake cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and cranberry white chocolate chip cookies I made for Mr. P’s company bake sale that I posted about yesterday? Well, he forgot them on the kitchen table and left without them in the morning. I grocery shopped, baked, cleaned, packed in baggies, and loaded in a shopping bag, placed right in front of his keys and wallet. Still, he walked out without them. Needless to say, my yesterday started on the wrong foot (really wrong foot). I drove the cookies to my office in the town we both work in, completely out of my way, and jetted off to a meeting an hour away. Good thing I can put the pedal to the metal…this girl was on time. Mr. P got his cookies and I got to my meeting on time. Crisis… averted.

After the meeting and before I started my late, long work day, my co-worker (Hi Christin!) took me to my new favorite place: an Amish market!

1.99 pounds of steel cut oats for $1.17!!!

Blackstrap molasses for $1.75!!!

1/2 pound of banana chips for $0.88!!!

Colby for Mr. P and Apple Cinnamon Cheddar to share πŸ™‚

Fresh spices: cayenne, cumin, sage, cinnamon, rosemary, Spanish paprika, chili powder, and poppy seeds for $0.89 to $1.98 for ~2/3 cup or 1/5th pound πŸ˜€

Fresh churned peanut butter on-site for $1.54! Cheaper by the pound than Skippy Natural!

And I got all sorts of fresh pastas in fun shapes and some chocolate-covered goodies for Mr. P. His birthday is Saturday, after all. So fun! Thank you, Christin πŸ˜€

It’s fair to say my day improved from there…despite walking in the door at 8pm and making some bad choices for dinner.

Obviously by 8pm I was ready to eat my arm off and Mr. P had taken it upon himself to order pizza on my late night. So I came home, had 1 slice of pizza, 1 leftover Buffalo Chicken Bite, 2/3rds-ish cups of Mr. P’s leftover pasta from a dinner out, a few gummy butterflies (i.e. gummy bears), and a glass of wine. …All before I got my heels off my feet. Vegetables who? Fruit what? Whole grain why? Oy!

THIS is why I meal plan and love leftovers!!! And THIS is why it’s so important to not get to the point of HUNGRY because nothing good ever comes of it! …at least not for me. Obviously. But it was still probably better than stopping for fast food. Which, by the way, sounded really appealing during my 70 minute commute home…since I’m baring all here. πŸ˜‰

Question: What was your last amazing food bargain?

I seriously feel like I hit the JACKPOT yesterday! πŸ˜€

Almost Friday!


Filed under budget shopping, dining out, dinner, fast food, fruits and vegetables, grocery store, herbs, hunger, marriage, self-control, stress, Uncategorized, wine, work