Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diet is not a 4- letter Word

Well, technically it is, but this about the negative connotations surrounding the word diet. Diet does not mean starving yourself or trying to lose weight or eating to gain muscle mass. While it can mean any if these things, it can also mean none of them. Diet is simply the type of food you generally eat. Some people have a healthy diet full of natural foods and whole grains. Others choose to fill their diet with with fast food and packaged meals. Whatever your diet is and why you have chosen it is up to you. Just remember that everyone has a diet (or type of food that they eat) and if you want to stay or get fit, you should choose a healthy one that fits your lifestyle.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Healthy "Twist" vs Healthy Eating

Most of the recipes that you will find on this site are healthy eating recipes. However, some are healthy twist recipes. What does this mean? Well, healthy eating recipes (like balsamic chicken with figs), you could eat every week, or even every day if you wished, and be getting the proper nutrients into you body. Your portion size of healthy eating recipes will determine whether you gain, maintain, or lose weight, so make the right decision for where you are in your health goals currently.
Healthy twist recipes are those like macaroni and cheese. Even though it is made with healthier ingredients than traditionally, you will gain weight if you eat it every day. This is because, unless you have a side of vegetable or salad, you are only eating pasta and cheese mixed together with half-and-half. Though this recipe calls for brown rice noodles instead of wheat or pasta noodles, you're still eating a plate full of macaroni. It's okay to indulge in healthy twist recipes now and then, but they shouldn't make up a large part of your diet if you are really trying to be "healthy."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Flour Choices

There are several different flour choices that you are faced with when standing in the baking aisle at the store: white, wheat, self-rising, white-wheat, etc. The type of flour that you want to buy will depend on what you are making. Lately, I have had a bag of white and a bag of wheat flour in my cupboard. I have found that, while I prefer the nutrition facts of the wheat flour, recipes don't always come out properly with just wheat and that it needs to be used 1/2 and 1/2 with white flour. The result is a wheat flavor and color. However, they have now started making a white-wheat flour. I have yet to try this, but I am looking forward to the end of my current bag of wheat flour so that I don't feel guilty about buying the new flour. Supposedly, the white-wheat flour does not need to be combined with anything else to create the desired consistency or texture. It is supposed to taste like white flour, but with the healthier nutrition of wheat flour. Let me know if you're tried it out! I'll update this once I get my hands on some.
Be careful with self-rising flour. Unless a recipe specifically calls for it, don't use it. This is because, if you look at the ingredient list on a bag of self-rising flour, this type of flour is more than just flour. There are additional powders added (like baking soda). These additions can potentially ruin whatever it is that you are making.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fresh, frozen, or canned?

Most people think the answer to this is obvious: fresh fruit and vegetables are better than frozen or canned. However, this is not always true. If you know that the fruit and vegetables were grown within one days journey, fresh is the best choice. You will get the best flavor this way and you can pretty much guarantee that the fruit or vegetable was picked at its peak. However, if the fruit you are buying was picked and packed in another state or country, and then it was shipped, it could be up to 2 weeks old by the time you buy it (it was most likely picked well before its peak and will not have the full flavor that you are expecting). In this case, it is better to get frozen fruit or vegetables. Many people believe that the freezing process takes away some of the nutritional value of the fruit or vegetable. This simply is not true. Upon being picked at its peak, the fruit or vegetable is then frozen within a day or two. The actual freezing only takes moments, locking in the natural juices so that you have the best product possible. Lately, canned fruits and vegetables have gotten a lot of publicity because of the high levels of BPA found to transfer between the can and the food. Another reason to be careful with canned fruits and vegetables are the liquids they are canned in (often containing high levels of sugar for fruits and high levels of sodium for vegetables). Though many of my recipes list canned vegetables, frozen is always the better option and I am consciously trying to make the switch for good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fresh Herbs

I don't buy fresh herbs from the store for my cooking. Because I don't always plan my dinners out for the week ahead of time, I never know how much basil or cilantro or dill I might need that week. I hate buying extra and having it go bad in the fridge or not buying any and then needing to go to he store just for that. As a result, I have begun buying fresh herbs in tubes. They last longer and are easier to measure out for recipes. I always keep a tube of basil, cilantro, and one of dill in my fridge. This way, I can make a quick pesto any time to drizzle over chicken or pasta, or add some fresh flavor to Italian dishes. Look for fresh herbs in tubes at your local grocery store in the produce section (normally they are by the mushrooms and squash). Also be sure to visit the dinner page for a quick and tasty basil pesto recipe that is delicious with roasted tomatoes!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eat Breakfast like a King...

Some people hold to the adage "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." While this is a good method, not everyone gets up early enough in the morning to make breakfast fit for a king (like me, for instance). Instead of beating yourself up over the fact that you got a bit more sleep and a bit less food or trying to make it up by eating an extra large lunch, add a snack to your day between breakfast and lunch. This will help you from becoming ravenous by lunch time and overeating then. Keep your dinner to a small portion. If you work out in the afternoon or early evening, make sure to either eat a small, healthy snack prior to working out to help you maintain your energy throughout, or shortly after to keep from becoming too hungry before dinner.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sauté and Brown

Often times, people think that you need oil or cooking spray to sauté and/or brown meats and vegetables. However, if you are on a restricted diet, or just trying to be a bit healthier, other options are chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (depending on what you are making) or water. Cooking sprays have many more calories than most people think. On the labels, they seem to be relatively neutral. However, the serving size on the label equates to a 1/3 of a second spray (approximately) and to coat a pan, you need to spray for 1-2 seconds. This amount of spray contains about 60 calories some of which are then transferred to your food as empty, fat calories. Alternatively, if you use some form of stock (just a thin layer in the pan to keep food from sticking) you are adding nutrient rich calories. If calories or fat are an issue for you (specifically those with high cholesterol), you can brown and sauté in a thin layer of water. Food comes out just as tasty and a bit more moist.

Friday, January 20, 2012


If you are inclined to snacking, but are also trying to maintain a healthy diet year-round, I can think of nothing tastier than some freshly roasted almonds. Alternatively, when I'm in the mood for a sweet little snack, a small apple (or half of a large apple) with natural almond butter hits the spot. Though there are more health benefits to almond butter compared to peanut butter, if you aren't willing to give up the peanuts make sure that you are buying natural peanut butter. There are many brands out there that stores carry on the shelf (my favorite is Skippy), but if you want really delicious natural peanut butter you need the freshly ground stuff. Some Safeways and I believe all Whole Foods Markets have wonderful fresh butter stations where you can choose your nut and grind it right into a container yourself. Can't get much fresher, or healthier, than that!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eating Out

I have eaten out several times in the past two weeks. However, eating out doesn't have to equate to eating poorly. Here are some tips for making good choices when you're at a restaurant.
1. If they list nutrition facts, use them! Along with this, if you are trying to stick to a certain number of calories per day, you can most often find the nutrition facts and menu online for larger restaurants. A benefit to choosing your meal before you show up is that you don't have to open the menu and be tempted by all of the not-so-healthy items.
2. If your dish comes with rice, ask if they have brown rice instead if white. Make sure to remember when eating rice that a serving size is about the size of a golf ball.
3. If your dish comes with a choice of sauces, a red, tomatoe-based sauce will be healthier than a white cream sauce or a butter sauce.
4. Watch out for those salads! Ask for your dressing on the side so you get to control how much to put on. Also beware of salads that include anything fried or have a side of something like a quesadilla as these salads often are very high in calories.
5. Savor every bite. This will prolong the amount of time it takes you to eat your meal. This means that you will be chewing your food completely before swallowing (important for digestion) and you are giving your brain the proper amount if time necessary to register that you are full (which most likely means you will eat less).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recipe Calculator

This is a great online calorie calculator for homemade food. It's very easy to add the different ingredients in your recipe and then it calculates how many calories there are total and per serving. If you're trying to watch your caloric intake but don't want to rely on boxed meals, this site is great. Try it out and let me knw what you think!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A good cook is a clean cook

This is the mantra that I grew up learning how to cook with. Growing up, I always just thought my mom said this because she wanted us to do the dishes. Now that I'm cooking in my own kitchen I understand: it is so the dishes get done, but if you are cleaning while you are cooking there aren't as many dishes to do when you finish. If there is a spot in a recipe where you have a second (while things are browning or a sauce is reducing, for instance), I highly recommend cleaning whatever dishes or utensils you have dirtied up to that point so you aren't overwhelmed at the end.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Recipes!

I have added a recipe to the "Dinner Entrees" page and also one to the "Side Dishes." I am planning to add more recipes later today to the other tabs. Pictures will be coming of the homemade tater-tots on "Side Dishes," as well. Make sure that you are "following" this page so you get updates when new recipes are added. Thanks!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Work in Progress

As I'm still playing around with all of the features that blogger has to offer, this page is currently a work in progress. Please come back soon as I have several recipes (and my reviews of them) ready to write and post as soon as I figure out how I want the page officially set up. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I created this page because I love food and I love to cook. However, I also love feeling good and being healthy. Most of the recipes that I find in my cookbooks and online don't mesh well with my four loves. To remedy this situation, I alter recipes to fit my healthy, feel good lifestyle while getting to eat amazing food... Well, mostly amazing:) Enjoy!