Sky Castle Gastro Lounge Review

Looking for a casual restaurant, with an upbeat vibe, and upscale, but affordable food? Look no further than Lakeview’s newest Foodie Haven… Sky Castle Gastro Lounge!  Chef Haller Magee has upgraded Lakeview’s culinary offerings in an innovative way that is guaranteed to be a neighborhood favorite!

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gastro 3

What Did I Sample?

For Snacks our table devoured the Roasted Cauliflower and Radish Toast!  Both are highly recommended!  The snacks added enough flavor to wet my appetite while leaving room for my entrée!


As for main dishes, it was all about the red meat!  The Sky Castle Burger could be up for awards in the near future!  And that’s saying a lot since Birmingham is home to some pretty fine burgers!  The homemade bread and butter pickles paired nicely with the tomato jam, caramelized onions, and smoked cheddar cheese! It’s a triple threat guaranteed to give you flavor explosion!

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gastro 2

I can also personally vouch for the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs that were served with a butternut squash puree and charred brussels sprouts! The short ribs were packed with flavor and seasoned with perfection! Well done Sky Castle!!!

What a great environment to watch your favorite sports team, catch up with good friends, and celebrate good food!  Great memories will be had at Sky Castle Gastro Lounge! This establishment adds new personality to the Birmingham food scene!

Sweater Weather

Headshot Hello readers, my name is Therese Bridges and I will be Suzanne's intern for the next few weeks. I am currently in the middle of my dietetic internship and I will be aiding with her blog and social media. A little about myself: I am from Mobile, AL, recently graduated from the University of Alabama, and my day revolves around planning my meals. I am looking forward to my time with Suzanne and I hope you enjoy my posts!

Now onto the point.

Fall has always been my favorite season. Ever since I was a kid diving into a large pile of leaves in my front yard, I appreciated the weather and beauty of autumn. As I have grown older, my admiration has evolved to include football and food (I still enjoy a good pile of leaves, though).

Hot chocolate and fire pits are on the top of my sweater weather list. However, any one of my friends will tell you, I crave soup once the temperature drops to 70 degrees (I know this is dramatic and in fact, not cold). My favorite soup in the fall is butternut squash. Let me create an image: Sitting in front of the fire, curled up in a comfy sweater, eating butternut squash soup, and laughing with your friends.

To make this image possible, I am sharing a delectable recipe that you are sure to enjoy. My mother has made this soup for the family before and it is even delicious served cold. **I made this for my sick roommate and, not taking any "credit", she feels significantly better today.**

This soup could serve a large dinner party of 8 or last one person for a week of meals. I made it a bit spicier than advised by my mother but I find that it adds an extra kick.


Based on recipe in Williams-Sonoma Everyday Roasting Cookbook, with some personal tweaks

Pumpkin seeds inspired by Panera Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves 8 to 10 people


  • 1-  4 lb butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 or 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line baking sheet with aluminum then brush with olive oil and arrange de-seeded butternut squash on pan. Roast squash for 13 to 15 minutes or until brown around the edges.

2. Once squash is done, set aside squash. Chop and arrange the onions on the same oiled up pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on onions and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over onions. Roast for 12 to 13 minutes then set aside.

3. In a stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add squash and onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook vegetables, stirring for 2 minutes then add chicken broth (enough to cover vegetables). Bring to a boil then place lid ajar and turn to low heat/simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Let soup cool, then working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor.

5. Return puree to stockpot, taste and adjust seasonings then reheat soup. Serve soup and garnish with nutmeg and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (available already made at most stores) on top of each bowl.

6. Enjoy! (preferably enjoying your favorite movie, sitting around a warm fire)


Roasted Okra .... Your New Favorite Food

Wash & Pat Dry Okra. Toss with Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil, Thyme, Garlic Powder, Sea Salt, and Freshly Ground Black Pepper.

Place on a Baking Sheet in a Single Layer

Roast for 15 minutes!



Okra is high in antioxidants such as xanthin and lutein, Vit A & C & B, Calcium, Iron, and Fiber!

And the seeds are high in PROTEIN!

Holiday Bill of Rights

Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights

What if peace on earth could begin at the dinner table? Imagine experiencing an inner peace, free from incessant worry about what to eat. It's hard to enjoy the holidays when you are preoccupied with eating or worried about what to say to relatives who have an annual tradition of telling you what and how to eat.

Consider your Intuitive Eating Bill of Rights, as we enter the holiday season, to help you foster inner peace with food, mind and body.

1. You have the right to savor your meal, without cajoling or judgment, and without discussion of calories eaten or the amount of exercise needed to burn off said calories.

2. You have the right to enjoy second servings without apology.

3. You have the right to honor your fullness, even if that means saying "no thank you" to dessert or a second helping of food.

4. It is not your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating, even if it took hours to prepare a specialty holiday dish.

5. You have the right to say, "No thank you," without explanation, when offered more food.

6. You have the right to stick to your original answer of "no", even if you are asked multiple times. Just calmly and politely repeat "No, thank you, really."

7. You have the right to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Remember, no one, except for you, knows how you feel, both emotionally and physically. Only you can be the expert of your body, which requires inner attunement, rather than the external, well-meaning, suggestions from family.

Copyright © 2010 by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD Published at



•Rights to Reproduce: You may reproduce this post, as long as you leave it unchanged, you don’t charge for it, and you include the entire copyright statement. Please let us know you have used it by sending a website link or an electronic copy to Etribole at gmail dot com.

Treats That Add Holiday Cheer!

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


I look forward to Christmas and when the holiday season is here, I listen to Christmas music non-stop and become nostalgic about Christmas past!  As I've mentioned in previous posts, my entire immediate family will be at my parent's house on Christmas Day which means there will be a total of 8 adults and 3 kids under the age of 4 trying to share a 3 bedroom, 3 bath house  May sound chaotic, but I LOVE IT!

Along with family gatherings, comes planning! I love to help my mom plan the meals and treats so my family can fully enjoy the holidays!  As I prepare for my journey home next week, I begin thinking of quick treats I can make to take with me for the family to enjoy and I remember a family favorite that I wanted to share with the NutriFocus family!  I'm not sure what the official name of this treat is, but my family has named this treat "Scooby Snacks".

Scooby Snacks
Scooby Snacks

Scooby Snacks are made in under 10 minutes, inexpensive to make, and full of holiday cheer! The best part is you can adjust the colors of the M&M's to make this versatile treat fit any holiday or party theme!! :) My family carried Scooby Snacks to the beach last year for a perfect sweet & salty combo snack and they were a hit! I just sent a large rubbermaid container full of "scooby snacks" with Mike as he went on a hunting trip with friends, and the container was brought back empty with lots of compliments.

So if you are headed to a party and/or a family gathering and you've been asked to bring a dish, put away the mixer and put together a quick batch of Scooby Snacks!!

"Scooby Snacks"

Small Twist Pretzels

Bag of Holiday Colored M&M's

Bag of Whole Pecans (optional)

Bag of Rolo Candies

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.  Place parchment paper on a large cookie sheet and place pretzels on the flat surface.  Unwrap the Rolo candies and place one Rolo in the middle of each pretzel.  Place pretzel & Rolo combination in the oven for approximately 5 minutes or just long enough for the Rolos to get soft, but not melt.  Once the cookie sheet has been removed from the oven, place one M&M candy or 1 Pecan in the center of the Rolo and press gently until M&M/pecan is secure and Rolo has been flattened!  Repeat until all pretzels are adorned with an M&M or pecan. Allow to cool then place in a decorated, holiday container!!  To speed the cooling process, I recommend putting the cookie sheet in the refrigerator!


Merry Kitchen - Safety Checkpoints to Ensure a Happy Holiday!

Safety Checkpoint #4

Hand Washing in Warm, Soapy Water is a Must-Do When Handling Food

During your daily routine, you come in contact with a lot of bacteria, so it is critical that you wash your hands before preparing dinner so you do not serve you or your family bacteria with their meal! Place your hands under warm water and use soap for approximately 20 seconds to make sure your hands are clean. I recommend singing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself to know when 20 seconds has passed.  Make sure you wash under your fingernails and between your fingers, where bacteria loves to hide!  You should also wash your hands after touching any uncooked meat, poultry and fish or eggs, as bacteria from these foods can contaminate cooked foods and fresh produce.

Safety Checkpoint #5

Always heat leftover foods to 165ºF.

The USDA recommends heating all cooked leftovers to 165°F in order to kill all potentially dangerous bacteria.

Safety Checkpoint #6

Food Recalls Are Not Meant To Be Ignored!

If you are watching the nightly news and learn of a recent food recall, you should immediately look to see if that specific food is in your kitchen. According to Rutgers University, only 60% of Americans search their homes for foods that have been recalled because of contamination.  You should immediately discard any food that’s been recalled because it’s associated with the outbreak of a foodborne illness and proceed to wash your hands thoroughly. For additional information about food recalls, turn to

Merry Kitchen! - Safety Checkpoints to Ensure a Happy Holiday! - Part 1

Christmas is coming and so is the company! If you are hosting a holiday gathering, it is important that you make sure your kitchen passes the safety test! The last thing you want to happen is to pass a foodborne illness to a loved one because of a mistake in your kitchen! For the next couple of days, this series will be giving you several areas to check to make sure your kitchen is ready for the party!

According to the CDC, over 200 known diseases are transmitted through food Foodborne illness include viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, metals, and prions. Common symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening neurologic, hepatic, and renal syndromes. It is estimated that foodborne illnesses cause 6 million to 81 million illnesses and up to 9,000 deaths each year in the United States.

Safety Checkpoint #1

Use a Refrigerator & Freezer Thermometer to Keep Your Food Stored at a Safe Temperature

It is recommended that your refrigerator stays approximately 40 degrees F or low to slow bacterial growth and maintain quality of food.  Since freezing occurs at 32 degrees F, adjust the thermometer between 32 degrees and 40 degrees F to prevent unwanted freezing.  Ensuring that your refrigerator temperature stays at 40°F or colder is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. You can purchase a “refrigerator/freezer thermometer” that range in price from $2 - $25 at most appliance stores or home centers.

To reduce the risk of foodborne illness in your freezer, it is recommended that your freezer temperature remains at 0 degrees F or lower.  At this temperature, bacterial growth will be stopped. However, freezing does not kill most bacteria, nor does it stop flavor changes that occur over time. Though food will be safe indefinitely at 0 degrees F, quality will decrease the longer the food is in the freezer.

Safety Checkpoint #2

Defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave or in cold water, never on the counter.

The best way to prepare for a large crowd is to make use of your freezer space.  When pulling out foods to thaw for your next party, always thaw foods in the refrigerator and never of the counter!  Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter for longer than 2 hours because, while the center of the food may remain frozen, the outer surface may enter the Danger Zone, The Danger Zone is temperatures between 40° and 140°F, in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you’re on a time crunch, use the defrost setting on your microwave or place frozen meats under cold, running water.  In this case, the meat must be used immediately.

Food & Friends: Food's Social Aspect (Part 3)

Imagine this:  it’s late afternoon, the sun is setting, you are sitting comfortably on a balcony overlooking a beautiful lake (Lake Travis) with the sun set reflecting off the water; surrounded by the ones you love, laughing, talking, and taking in this beautiful picture as you nosh on a pre-dinner appetizer and a true Texas margarita!  Sound like perfection?! Well take it from me, it was!! This was the exact experience I got to enjoy with my friends & husband in Austin, Texas as we relaxed at The Oasis on Lake Travis (  The Oasis confidently refers to Austin as the “Sunset Capital of Texas” and after experiencing it first hand, I would have to agree! It sits directly on Lake Travis and has 4 tiers of balconies that host numerous table for all guest to enjoy the breath-taking sunset view!  I cannot vouch for the food, as we did not have dinner, but we did enjoy the chips & salsa with a fresh rita!

Our days move at such a rapid pace, that it is such a rare and treasured gift to have the opportunity to sit, responsibilities free, no time limit or time frame to heed to, with loved ones, around a table and simply talk about life, the good, the bad, and the funny! To catch-up, share stories, and laugh till it hurts are the small moments in life that make life worth living and memorable!  When I consider the number of women in the world that make excuses to avoid such social situations because of the potential of food being present, breaks my heart and fires up a passion within to encourage women to reject the “social norm to diet” and to live in freedom.. To allow a calorie to subtract from the memorable moments in one’s life is devastating.

The four of us walked away from that table totally relaxed and excited about the night’s events!  It was on to South Congress Café!!


South Congress Café ( is located on South Congress Avenue and was conveniently located within walking distance of our vacation home!  Upon walking into this venue, I knew we were in for a treat!  The atmosphere is eclectic, but chic and full of life! The cuisine was impressive due to its ability to be casual, yet elegant all at the same time.












April enjoyed a warmed goat cheese salad topped with scallops!

Mike enjoyed Grilled Pork Chop served w/ truffled mac’n cheese, vegetables du jour, spiced apple demi-glace. Mike and I shared a warmed goat cheese salad prior to our meal!


Zach and I ordered the same entrées and were both VERY impressed. We enjoyed the Five Spice Crusted Pork Tenderloin served with blue corn bread chorizo stuffing, a spicy ranchero burgundy sauce, and asparagus!  The flavors and textures really played off one another well and the meal was satisfying. I would highly recommend this dish to everyone that plans to visit Austin in the future!!

This concludes DAY ONE of my adventures in Austin, Texas! More to come very soon!! So I leave you with this:

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Childs

Recipe Review: Quick Fall Minestrone Soup

With the temperature slowly dropping and the holidays are around the corner, my desire for comfort food is evident.  Comfort food means different things to different people, but to me, comfort food means a dish is warm, satisfying, inviting, and hearty.  This week’s recipe caught my attention because of the variety of hearty ingredients, ease of preparing, and the warmth that soup brings to a table. This week’s recipe review is a “Quick Fall Minestrone” soup from Cooking Light.  The preparation for this dish was extremely easy because it mainly consisted of chopping vegetables and opening a can of beans!  The most time consuming part of the prep work was cutting the butternut squash and taking the skin off the potato.

I really liked the fact that this soup incorporated BUTTERNUT SQUASH. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals steer clear of butternut squash because of its odd shape that can be intimidating. But don’t let that keep you away from incorporating this fall favorite into your meals. A few simple steps and you will have cubed butternut squash in no time!  Connect to the following link for easy to follow instructions:

The other star ingredient in this recipe is KALE!  Kale is a leafy, green vegetable that belongs to a family of veggies that include collards, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.  Kale can be spotted at your local grocery throughout the year, however, it is more widely available, and at its peak, from late fall through the beginning of spring.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and is a cruciferous veggie you should consider eating up to 4-5 times per week, with an average serving size of 2 cups.  Kale can provide a significant source of vitamin K which is the key nutrient in lowering your risk of chronic inflammation.  Recent research indicated that 45 different antioxidant flavonoids are found in measurable amounts of kale which is the key that makes kale rank high on the list of cancer-preventative foods.

If you are considering picking up kale on your next grocery trip, it is important to know what to look for when choosing this vegetable.  Fresh kale will have firm, smaller-sized, deeply colored leaves, hardy stems that are moist, no signs of wilting leaves, and free from browning, yellowing, or small holes.  Kale should be displayed in a cool environment to prevent warmer temperatures from negatively affecting the flavor.

Improper storage can bring out a bitter flavor in kale.  To properly store this vegetable, place unwashed kale in a plastic storage bag and remove as much trapped air as possible.  Avoid washing kale before storing to prevent spoilage.  Kale will typically keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Blog Pics Nov 2010 001
Blog Pics Nov 2010 001

Recipe Review Summary: This soup was over-the-top DELICIOUS! I must say, it ranks on the top of my list of recipes I’ve recently reviewed!  It is a broth based soup, but due to the starch in the potatoes, butternut squash, and orzo, the broth had a creamy texture.  The kale added next text and a fresh flavor.  I served the soup with a Tomato, Bacon, and Havarti Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Mike and I each enjoyed a bowl, as well as, I’ve packed us each a bowl for lunch and put 3 bowls worth in the freezer for a later date so this recipe would make plenty for a large family with no problem!

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Blog Pics Nov 2010 004

Quick Fall Minestrone Soup

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups soup and 1 tablespoon cheese)


  • 1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 6  cups  vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 1/2  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled baking potato
  • 1  cup  (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1/2  cup  diced carrot
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  cups  chopped kale
  • 1/2  cup  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1  (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 1/2 minutes or until tender. Add broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Add kale, orzo, and beans; cook 5 minutes or until orzo is done and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

Fighting Fatigue with Food - Miniseries Part 6 (The Finale!)


Lentils are a super food because they provide carbohydrates, protein, and fiber which translates into a slow release of glucose. Lentils are also packed with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, and copper.  Sources to consider include navy beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans.

Leafy Greens

Folate can be helpful in reducing the risk of depression.  Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables, including spinach and romaine lettuce, legumes, nuts, and citrus fruits!

Fighting Fatigue with Food - Miniseries Part 3

Be A “5 to 9” Fan

Eating 5-9 servings of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will allow your energy levels to soar!  Fresh produce will help keep you hydrated because they are filled with water! The more color you can add to your day through a variety of fruit and vegetable colors, the better!  For example, bananas are easily digested and provide a lot of potassium which helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function.  Times of stress or during strenuous exercise can cause potassium levels to drop since the body does not store potassium for long periods of time.  Other great snacks include apples, grapes, peaches, and pineapples! 

Fighting Fatigue with Food - Miniseries Part I

Over the next several days, I'll be sharing tips to fighting common fatigue with the way you eat!  Continue to check the NutriFocus blog to learn all tips to experience more energy through eating!

TIP #1:  Planning = Power

Skipping meals is the #1 energy killer for most individuals.  By making meal planning a priority, you will ensure you have the foods available to consume 4-6 small meals each day. By eating more frequently, your blood sugar is stabilized which will prevent mid-day crashes that lead to fatigue and moodiness.  Meal planning will take the guesswork out of food choices in the middle of a mid-day slump when the temptation to reach for non-healthy items is the highest.


In what ways could you do a better job planning your meals and snacks?

Missing Something?!

Feel like your missing something?! Could that "something" be in your diet? See if it's true by reading the link below!

Missing Vitamin D?

Want another question to ponder?!  Do you feel up to date on nutrition information? Do you feel encouraged daily to keep healthy lifestyle habits?  If the answer is no, it means you are not following NutriFocus on Facebook!! "Like" the page and be up to date on the latest articles/trends that appear in the news/media, and are true of course!! :)

RECIPE REVIEW - Edamame Succotash

I have missed blogging and staying in touch with my NutriFocus family!  This weekend I celebrated my mom’s birthday so I was unable to get to my computer!  I had a fabulous time sharing this weekend with family and friends!As Monday rolls around, so does my usual schedule, which means it is time for another RECIPE REVIEW!!  This week I chose to try Edamame Succotash because it called for ingredients that I had on hand and wanted to use to save money on groceries.  The recipe required little prep time and very little cooking time which fit my busy Monday schedule.

I made a minor substitution to the recipe but the taste was not compromised on any level.  Since I already had fresh lima beans in the freezer, (thanks Mike’s grandma!!) I simply substituted the lima beans for the edamame beans.  The recipe calls for pork bacon, but you could use turkey bacon as the substitute if you do not eat pork for religious reasons!  This is the major source of flavor for this recipe, so do not stray too far away when searching for a substitute!

Due to fact that I refuse to cook bacon in a skillet b/c I always get “popped”, I called for back-up so Mike joined me in the kitchen to help with cooking the bacon. Normally I would cook the bacon in the oven, but it is important that the bacon is cooked in the skillet so the dish can keep most of the flavor.  But for all other purposes, I recommend cooking bacon in the oven to avoid injury and for easier clean-up!!

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Blog Pictures 001

Once the bacon was cooked and removed from the pan, it was simply an act of adding each ingredient one by one.

First addition: Onions

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Blog Pictures 005

Second addition: Corn – Since corn is not in season, I used a 10oz package of frozen corn for this recipe. I definitely think fresh corn would really add flavor to this dish, but frozen did the trick for this season!

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Blog Pictures 007

Third addition: Lima Beans.  Lima Beans can be a great source of folate, potassium, and iron! These little green beans also pack a super punch with a significant level of fat free, high-quality protein and dietary, cholesterol-lowering fiber which helps keep blood sugar levels stable which is important for individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or insulin resistance. Lima beans are also known to be high in a trace mineral called, molybdenum, which is part of process of detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are preservatives commonly found in prepared foods and if an individual is sensitive to sulfites, they can experience rapid heartbeat and/or headaches.  By increasing your molybdenum stores, you can improve your ability to detox sulfites, therefore, decreasing or preventing side effects.

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Blog Pictures 008

Fourth Addition: Spices, Red Bell Pepper, and Plum Tomatoes – Red bell peppers provide this recipe with a significant dose of Vitamin A & C and lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may lower risks for certain types of cancers.

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Blog Pictures 009

Final Addition: Bacon Pieces

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Blog Pictures 004

To round out the meal, I added a piece of French baguette with melted havarti cheese! This was simply made by cutting a fourth of the baguette in half, placing approx 1-1 ½ oz havarti cheese, and placing in 425 degree oven for approx. 5 minutes, then broiling for another 2 minutes!  The flavors really complemented each other and really gave it a comfort food feel.  My husband and I both agreed that this recipe is a keeper due to the ease of preparation/cooking, inexpensive cost of ingredients, powerful nutrition stats, and the one of a kind taste that took us by surprise!  It was delicious!

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Blog Pictures 012

We both highly recommend all of you trying this recipe and letting us know what you think!

Succotash Meal
Succotash Meal

EDAMAME SUCCOTASH - "Cooking Light" Recipe

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups) Cost per Serving: $2.47


  • 1  slice center-cut bacon
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 2  cups  chopped sweet onion
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 1  (16-ounce) bag frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sugar
  • 3  plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1  red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3  tablespoons  torn basil


1. Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; coarsely chop bacon.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Melt butter in drippings in pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn kernels; sauté for 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Add edamame, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through bell pepper); cook 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and basil.


I made this recipe on Thursday night for my husband and myself with a little hesitancy, but  I was pleasantly surprised!!  If you need a quick weeknight meal this recipe is for you! This pasta dish contained a lot of flavors and made enough for a large group or lunch leftovers! Mike and I both ate the leftovers for lunch on Friday cold,  and the dish cold was just as good as the original dish right off the stove! The star ingredients contain vitamins and minerals that have a major impact on our health as indicated below:

  • Spinach in this dish makes it a great source of  potassium, iron, and folate
  • Olives make it a great source of Vitamin E which has anti-inflammatory actions, helps reduce the severity of conditions caused by high levels of free radicals (asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer), and may help reduce the frequency and/or intensity of hot flashes in women going through menopause.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta makes this recipe a great source of dietary fiber and provides other health benefits such as lowering risk of metabolic syndrome, lessens chronic inflammation, and promotes gastrointestinal health!
  • Olive Oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which lowers rates of heart disease, diabetes,  and asthma. By reducing inflammation and free radical damage , dietary olive oil protects the lining of our blood vessels, helping to maintain its ability to relax and dilate which prevents high blood pressure.
  • Feta Cheese is rich in calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.  Calcium is required for the development of bones. Riboflavin is required by the body as it aides in metabolism of macronutrients (carbs, pro, and fat). Phosphorus plays a major role in the formation of bones and teeth and Vitamin B12 is required by the human body to keep red blood cells healthy, supports function of the immune system, and prevents heart disease.

It reminded me of a dish that would be served at Taziki's, maybe similar to the oh so famous Friday's Special!! I highly recommend this recipe to my NutriFocus family!! If you try this dish, please share your comments!! Bon Appetit!!

Penne with Spinach, Feta, and Olives Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 2 cups) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 3 garlic cloves, crushed 6 cups hot cooked whole wheat penne (about 12 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta) 2 cups chopped spinach 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives 2 tablespoons capers 3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Add pasta, spinach, olives, capers, and cheese; toss well.

Cooking Light, May 1998