Archive | November, 2012

New Traditions

28 Nov

Yes, it is holiday time.  It has individual or singular meaning to each and every person.  Is it time for crazy family get togethers?  Favorite foods?  Family politics in play?  Long drive to Aunt Gladys’ house?  Holidays mean different things to everyone, but no matter what, it evokes nostalgia.  Holidays of the past.  Traditions.  But I think everyone has holiday food traditions.

Traditional holiday food, for some, may be tied to religion or faith.  For others, it may mean sticking to what grannie made.  For me, it seems to be a mix of things.  I certainly have some expectations of getting together with family, friends and neighbors.  I also expect to have certain foods and treats around.  But does overeating and rich calorie laden foods have to do us in during our special holiday celebrations?  Absolutely not!

Start a new tradition!  Incorporate increased activity into your holiday plans!  There are a couple of ways to accomplish this new tradition.  Get creative.  Consider the ages of the folks getting together.  There are ways to every one into the fun.

Family football on Thanksgiving morning!

Have a family football game.  Go to a neighborhood park or some ones back yard.  Put everyone on a team, get some brief rules in order, and let the fun begin!  Get the grandparents a seat on the side lines and some pom poms to cheer the game on!

SCORE! And the football crowd goes wild!

Organize a family or a neighborhood Turkey Trot.  It doesn’t have to be far.  Getting together and walking/running anywhere from a few blocks to a mile or two is a blast!  Set up a little healthy snack and water stop at the turn.

Take a family walk after the big meal.  It is a wonderful time to continue the happy chatter that began at the meal.  That will keep the food moving through your system too.  It is a healthy and energizing way to end a meal, and perhaps a nice break before the desserts come out!

Have a night time bon fire.  It is such a blast to have every one gathered around a fire, the chill of the evening on your back and the heat from the fire warming the

My dad by the back yard bonfire. Drink in one hand, marshmallow in the other! Gotta love it!

front!  Grab some flashlights and let the kids have a rousing game of flashlight tag to work off that big meal!

There are so many ways to add activity to your holiday and keep your body moving!  So start a new tradition.  Add some physical activity to your holiday plans.  If your family is like mine, it will become the most talked about and cherished part of the holidays!

Fast Feast

11 Nov

I am a busy working mother.  I understand what it is like to work all day and come home to hungry kids that need a good supper.  It is tempting to go find a drive thru and just be done with it.  But let’s state the obvious and say that the nutrition in a fast food meal just isn’t the same as a healthy home cooked meal.  But how do we find the time and energy to cook a meal after a long day at work?  I will tell you how!

Anyone can have a nutritious dinner ready quickly.  It takes a tiny bit of planning, so the next time you go to the grocery store get these items on hand.  Then you will be ready to toss together a quick family dinner in less time than it would take to go out for fast food.

Grocery list:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts/1 per person
  • A jar of your favorite bbq sauce
  • Large Idaho potatoes
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Frozen bag of vegetables such as green beans or broccoli

Now let’s get cooking.  When you walk in the door, turn the oven onto 350 degrees then go change into comfortable clothes.  Ok, back to the kitchen.   Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet, salt and pepper them, and toss them in the oven.

Wash the potatoes and pierce the skin with a fork twice.  If you don’t prick the potato with a fork, it will explode when cooking.  And believe me, you don’t want to clean THAT up!  Place the potatoes like numbers on a clock or spokes on a wheel around a microwave safe plate.  Put them in the microwave, and follow your manufacturers directions for cooking the baked potatoes.  My microwave has a baked potato button to push, and it does the rest of the work for me!  The potatoes, depending on the size, will take 15 minutes or so to cook.  Rotate them once or twice during cooking.

Set the table, or better yet, have the kids do it.  The chicken will need about 25 minutes in the oven.  After about 20 minutes, pull it out and douse the chicken in BBQ sauce.  Toss it back in the oven for the flavors to cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Check the potatoes.  Place a fork into one to test for doneness.  The potato should be soft.  When they are done, cover the plate with tin foil and get the frozen vegetables out.

Read the directions.  The vegetables that I prefer cook in their own bag.  Easy!  Put the vegetables in the microwave and cook for the designated amount of time, probably 7 or so minutes.  While those are cooking, pull out some butter, maybe sour cream too.  Whatever you like on a baked potato, put on the table.

Pull out your dinner and enjoy!  Not only will you enjoy a nutritious home cooked meal, you can enjoy the socialization that naturally comes with cooking and sharing a meal.  While you are cooking, hopefully folks are in the kitchen with you to chat with and share thoughts of the day.  A quick meal is also a great example for the family.  There are choices to fast food!  And they can be very quick!

Last thought:  do not take this whole task on yourself.  Have the kids help with the cooking, and the kids will also be on KP duty (kitchen patrol).  They can do the dishes.  Not only is it important to get a nutritious meal on the table, it is also critical for the rest of the family learn to pitch in and help.  After dinner is also a great time for the children to make their sandwich and lunch for the following day!

Fabulous Frittata!

8 Nov

I love breakfast.  But only after coffee.  And an hour or two awake.  I am not a morning person, so more accurately I can say that I love breakfast, but for brunch.  On the weekend I love sleeping in a bit, getting out of bed slowly, and reading the paper with a cup of coffee.  Next, I like to have a nice nutritious breakfast.  But an easy one.

One weekend morning, I decided to have some eggs.  I had taken a long run the day before and felt like I needed some protein.  Some vegetables.  Something substantial.  But I did not feel like standing at the stove for a long time, and omelets just aren’t my thing.  A frittata was the perfect breakfast for this particular morning.

A frittata is an italian creation.  It is like an omelet but it is baked.  You begin with an egg mixture, then toss in whatever you like or whatever you have on hand.  It is delicious, can be low in fat, and packed with nutrition.  It can feed several people too, making it very budget friendly.  Bonus!  Let me share my recipe with you.

I began by pulling 6 eggs out of the fridge.   Eggs, in many recipes, are better at room temperature, so I set them on the counter for a few minutes.  Then I started to look at what to add to my frittata.  I found some yummy ingredients and a left over to use.   I found a jar of roasted red peppers and leftover grilled ham steak.  I also had a small wedge of fresh parmesan and some frozen spinach.  That was enough to get rolling.

The start of a brilliant frittata!

I started by scrambling 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites.  Yolks are where the fat and cholesterol are found in an egg, so use whole eggs sparingly.  I like using more egg whites, where the protein is, than whole eggs. I whipped them up into a froth, then added 1 cup of skim milk.  I also added some black pepper.

I set that aside for a minute and chopped up the red peppers and my leftover ham steak.  I defrosted the frozen spinach and squeezed it dry.  Next, I got a large skillet that is oven safe out of the cabinet, because this dish starts on the stove top and then goes into the oven.  I sprayed the skillet with nonstick vegetable spray.  I sautéed the spinach, red peppers, and ham steak over a medium high heat.  I added some more fresh ground black pepper and a tiny sprinkle of salt.  I also added some red pepper flakes, a favorite seasoning of mine to use with anything containing spinach.

After a few minutes, I gave the veggie ham mixture a final stir. Next, I poured the frothy eggs on top.  No more stirring!  I turned the heat under the skillet to medium and stepped away from the stove for a few moments.

Pour the eggs!

After the eggs started to set, which took about 4-5 minutes, I tossed the frittata into a

My frittata was puffing!

400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  I sat and enjoyed a rare second cup of coffee, and took another look at the paper.  But after about 10 minutes, the scent wafting from the oven was too much for me to handle.  I had to go to the oven and take a peek.  That frittata was puffing up and turning the most beautiful golden color.  Yum!  My mouth was watering and I was ready to dig in!  But the frittata had a few more minutes to bake.  So I closed the oven door and waited a few more minutes.

The frittata was worth that wait!  I pulled it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting it.  I cut it into wedges like a pie and had a piece with some whole wheat toast.  It was the perfect weekend breakfast.  Next time, though, I might have it for dinner!

Aaahhh! The finished product! And yes, that is a delicious dollop of butter on the toast! Just enough to add flavor, but not enough to kick up my cholesterol!

The Royale Treatment

2 Nov

I work in clinical nutrition and have for much of my professional career.   More than that, food, nutrition, and wine have all been a passion for me.  In addressing nutrition with my professional hat on, I can’t help but let my “foodie” nuances shine through sometimes.

I work with a mostly elderly population as clients, which is so cool, because many of my clients have been cooking for decades, and some for more than a half of a century.  I absolutely love to pick their brains sometimes about food from the past, how they fed their families, what their parties were like.  Conversations with them regarding food from their past are amazing!  One such conversation with a beautiful and sophisticated client with classic french culinary roots turned to champagne.  Lucky me!

We discussed champagnes of the past.  My dear client had mentioned that her favorite champagne was Piper Heidsieck Brut.  She preferred this particular champagne served as a Kir Royale.   I hadn’t had a Kir Royale in a couple of years, and I asked for her recipe.  I also asked what food she traditionally paired with this cocktail.  Here is a take on her simple and delicious recipe, or at least how I made it, and her favorite appetizer to go with this elegant aperitif.

Kir Royale

  • 1 part creme de Cassis
  • 5 parts champagne

A chilled glass is perfect for this cocktail, so take a champagne flute, and fill it with ice and cold water.  Let sit for a few minutes.  Dump out the ice water.  Pour 1 part creme de Cassis (black currant liquor) into the flute.  Slowly add 5 parts champagne.  Enjoy!

My client liked to serve pate with this drink, so I served a chicken pate with it and it was well paired.  I served a lobster spread, but found that to be a bit too sweet with this drink, which is also on the sweet side.  The third appetizer I tried with this, and it was delicious, were roasted fresh figs with bleu cheese on an endive leaf.  Elegant and yummy!

This drink was a nice change of pace, and fun to try again.  It was a perfect before dinner drink to sip and enjoy some appetizers.  Try it.  Give me some feedback.  Let me know what kind of champagne you used, and what you served along side.  Bon appetite!