White Chocolate & Cranberry Bread Pudding

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Need an idea for a tasty dessert to take for to your New Year's Eve celebration, but don't want to spend all day baking? This recipe is the perfect fit for any celebration or a weeknight treat!

 It takes minimal effort, but provides maximal enjoyment!!

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WHITE CHOCOLATE & CRANBERRY BREAD PUDDING:

Ingredients

:

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 can Condensed Sweetened Milk
  • 1 3/4 cup Hot Water
  • 1/4 cup Butter, Melted
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Bag Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Loaf Pepperidge Farm French Bread, Pulled into Bite Size Pieces

Directions

:

  • Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Beat 3 Eggs in large mixing bowl. Add condensed milk, hot water, butter, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir well. Add white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  • Place bread cubes in baking dish and pour egg mixture over bread. Make sure all bread is covered and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick/knife comes out clean.
  • Serve warm and garnish with whipped cream or drizzle with caramel!

6 Tips for Grocery Shopping with PCOS

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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) causes elevated insulin levels in the blood, resulting in difficulty maintaining a healthy weight due to the tendency of the body to store fat.  Did you know that if you lose 5-10% of your current body weight, you can help significantly reduce symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?  Don't start crash dieting to improve symptoms, but start shopping smarter!

Grocery shopping, in general, can be a big pain but if you are grocery shopping with PCOS, things can get a bit trickier. I am here with some tips to make things simpler.

  1. Fuel Up Before Shopping! This is a rule for everyone to live by: don’t shop when you are hungry. Those donut holes look a bit more tempting when you haven’t eaten lunch yet (public bulletin: there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a donut hole).
  2. Fortify Your Cart with Calcium & Vitamin D!  Calcium is an important mineral for women with PCOS since it is known to promote egg development and menstrual cycles. Almost more important than calcium, Vitamin D is key for calcium absorption, egg maturation, and insulin resistance. Some foods high in calcium and/or Vitamin D include: milk, eggs, salmon, tuna, cheese, and fortified cereals.
  3. Find The Farmer's Market.  Produce & meats pack the most nutrition when purchased local because the food items do not lose nutrition in the transportation of the food items to the grocery stores and on the grocery store shelves.  Check out your local farmer's market and research local farms near your home that sale grass-fed, hormone free meats!  Since its winter, what are the best items to look for to help fight PCOS? Kale and Turnip Greens!!!  Kale is great for any diet, but can be extremely beneficial for women with PCOS. Turnip Greens are low in oxalic acid so there won’t be any calcium absorption inhibition. Other vegetables high in calcium: broccoli, collard greens, arugula, and okra. One key tip: take advantage of all these beneficial greens and make some beautiful salads.
  4. Fight Oxidative Stress!! Eat a Variety of Colored Vegetables To Fight Oxidative Stress. Brightly colored vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants which fights oxidative stress. Women with PCOS have been found to have a higher rate of oxidative stress which leads to physiological stress.
  5. Fire Up The Grill!! Purchase Organic, Grass-Fed Meats. Grass-fed meat tends to be leaner and contain less hormones than standard meat. The livestock is also protected from genetically modified grains and pesticides which can negatively affect hormone balance and PCOS.  Lean protein sources also help maintain steady energy levels and curb cravings.  Some protein foods, like wild-caught fish, can get a bit pricey but some cheaper options include: beans, turkey, pastured eggs, organic yogurt, and  nuts/seeds. When deciding on which proteins to choose- it is better to choose protein with little to no saturated fats (items listed above, with exception of egg yolks, are great options)
  6. Figure Out Plan Ahead of Time!  There are many websites that compile a shopping list that you can print out and bring to the store and check off items you need to purchase. This makes things much simpler and prevents impulse purchases. I made one myself and I am attaching it here: Grocery List. My grocery list is based on what I usually purchase, there are modifications and write-ins that can be made to your liking! Try to make a weekly meal plan and only purchase what it planned for that week. With the shopping list printable comes a budgeting section. Prepare ahead and decide what you want to spend and try not to exceed that limit. If you find some huge deals and have leftover money, save it for a rainy day and after the end of the month see how much you saved!

Therese Bridges

6 Local Birmingham Eats

Support our lovely city of Birmingham by eating local!

Babalu

The best part about their food: locally grown! One of my favorite dishes involved their delicious grits that are grown in Wilsonville, AL, McEwen & Sons. They were the perfect amount of flavor underneath the Braised Beef Short Rib, which was also amazing. The portions are the exact right amount for full satiety without being too large.

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When you taste their food you can tell that it is made with care and fresh, fresh, fresh! Their food items are made daily and even their margaritas are made with fresh ingredients (I highly recommend their baba-rita).

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They are partnered with Jones Valley Teaching Farm, a non-profit organization, to promote the education on locally grown foods. Jones Valley Teaching Farm is dedicated to educating the young community on what these fresh foods can do for your body! They provide many opportunities to volunteer and get involved here.

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Sprout and Pour

Sprout & Pour has been around Alabama for some time at various farmers markets but has just opened a storefront in the heart of Edgewood!  Sprout & Pour is family owned and uses fresh and local produce to make their cold pressed juices and serves up whole food smoothies!  Many juicing techniques lose key nutrients in their methods, but Sprout & Pour utilizes a cold-pressed method that preserves the vital nutrients in the local produce they use to create their nutrient dense treats!!

Galley and Garden

The galley is the kitchen and the garden is the area for you to enjoy your delicious meal. The chef, James Boyce, originates from Huntsville and owns three successful restaurants there. The restaurant has only been open for a short time and already has stirred talk around the town. The menu features modern American-French style with southern influences. I recommend trying the Grilled Hearts of Romaine salad and Pan Roasted Gulf Mangrove Snapper.

Dreamcakes

Dreamcakes is a locally owned bakery in the heart of Edgewood!  This bakery shares the cupcake love by sending cupcake trucks around the city!!! The creative team at Dreamcakes are consistently impressive at serving up whimsical excitement throughout the year with cupcake flavors and festive treats!  For example, during a pit-stop in October, the Wednesday special was the Sorting Hat cupcake. The Sorting Hat is Harry Potter themed and underneath the chocolate dipped topping is a SURPRISE FLAVOR! Nothing gets me like a hidden surprise inside a delicious cupcake.  Besides cupcakes there are cakes, brownies, chocolate strawberries, macaroons, and oatmeal crème pies. The shop is quaint and in the perfect area to eat outside and walk around to shop locally afterwards.  NutriFocusRD urges everyone to experience this unique & delectable bakery!!!

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Oli.O

Another family owned operation, Oli.O sells fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegars. These oils are from all over the world including: Spain, Italy, South Africa, Australia, California, and more! The shop provides tastings so you can see which oil or vinegar your taste buds prefer! One of my favorite new things to test out in recipes is infused olive oils and Oli.O has some great varieties like: chipotle, cilantro and roasted onion, organic basil, organic butter, and more! If you check out their website, they provide some recipes for your everyday needs.

Hotbox

Hotbox is considered a “permanent food stand” in the courtyard of Parkside in Avondale. I love the Avondale area, especially on a warn day when you can grab a dish at surrounding restaurants and eat at Avondale Brewery. Hotbox would be perfect for that very idea! Their menu has so much variety I would not know how to describe it besides: my perfect menu. Spicy soba noodles, beets and bok choy, carnitas tostada, and pork belly drunken noodle are on the top of my list. My mouth is watering as I type…

Therese Bridges

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

breast cancer Breast Cancer: one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Most (if not all) of you can name at least one relative, neighbor, or friend that has, had, or defeated the cancer. Since men grow breast tissue as well, they can be diagnosed with the disease but it is the most common cancer of women, so the focus often lies on women. Since it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to post a nutritional blog that could possibly help any of you, male or female, who needs advice on prevention!

My view point on the power of proper nutrition changed when I learned that three-fourths of cancers can be prevented through healthy diet and lifestyle. Three-fourths! I don’t know about you but that gives me a certain amount of comfort that, in a small way, we have the power!

Breast cancer is considered a genetic cancer by many so there are no promises. Also, there is no sure fire way to completely prevent any type of cancer but there are some nutritional tips that can help avoid those vexing cancer risk factors.

  1. This one may (not) be a shocker: exercise. Weight gain as an adult leads to a stronger chance of being diagnosed. The best way to avoid this is through exercise, which helps prevent any number of other health issues. Two birds meet one stone.
  2. Stick to one glass of wine a day. Those who drink an excessive amount of alcohol have shown a stronger chance of getting breast cancer. Since wine is such a relaxant, I cannot blame anyone who wants to sit back after a long day at work and drink a few glasses. Try to keep it at a one drink maximum.
  3. Don’t smoke. (I feel that this does not need further explanation).
  4. Mothers who breast feed for a year (or longer) are less likely to get breast cancer versus a mother who did not breast feed. Breast feeding has also shown a prevention in ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, and type 2 diabetes.
  5. Get screened often! Especially get screened if you have a family history of breast cancer. This is not a "prevention" technique but more of a way to receive the good news that you defeated the disease or to avoid a late diagnosis.

I have included links to Susan G. Koman's website, throughout this post, to provide any further research options you wish to pursue. Also, below are some of the trusted sites I found my information from (most was learned in my medical nutrition therapy class but I do not have a web link of my notes for y'all).

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-prevention

Therese Bridges

Pumpkin & Cinnamon Chip Cupcakes

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Hey all, its Therese again with another fall themed recipe. I hope you enjoyed my last recipe, I know I did. Sticking with my orange gourd vegetable theme, I decided to make pumpkin cinnamon cupcakes with whipped cream cheese frosting! I cannot express to you, through this post alone, just how amazing these cupcakes are… you will just have to make it yourself!

I based my whipped cream cheese recipe off of Living Better Together’s whipped cream cheese. I like to make each recipe my own by tweaking the recipe a bit so I added cinnamon to the whipped cream cheese.

After never hearing of their existence, before walking around Walmart, I decided to add cinnamon chips to my cupcake recipe. The rest of the recipe is based off reading around twenty various pumpkin cupcake recipes on Pinterest that were all basically the same ingredients, but to give props to a specific recipe (which really helped in teaching me how to bake the cupcakes): Tracey’s Culinary Adventures brown butter pumpkin cupcakes.

Sticking to the fall theme, I wanted to make a dish that would be great for the season… the season of football. Everyone loves their wings, dips, and beer but what about dessert? Dessert is our ultimate goal anyways… These cupcakes are perfect for tailgating with their festive, football baking cups. I decided to bring these cupcakes to the Alabama-Tennessee game in Knoxville this weekend. However, I taste-tested one with one of my lucky roommates this afternoon and they are MELT IN YOUR MOUTH DELICIOUS- the perfect mixture of salty and sweet.

I also purchased some frilly pink baking cups (mostly so I could take SUPER CUTE pictures) to display how pretty these desserts are! I am saving these cupcakes for our girls’ night in tonight for "TGIT" and red wine.

Pumpkin & Cinnamon Chip Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cupcakes

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • wine
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs

Whipped Cream Cheese Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

For Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, line cupcake pan with baking liners
  2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, pour into bowl and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cinnamon chips.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, brown sugar (be sure to pack down in measuring cup), granulated sugar, eggs, and add the butter. Once well mixed, add the dry ingredients to mix together.
  5. Divide the batter into the baking cups, inside cupcake pans, fill until about ½ or ¾ full.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (be sure to rotate the pans about 10 minutes in)
  7. Cool the cupcakes before adding the frosting

For Frosting

  1. Let the cream cheese soften by either setting out while baking cupcakes or soften in microwave (but not me-- I recommend microwaving for 30 seconds)
  2. Mix the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in medium bowl and whisk at medium speed (if you own an electric mixer)
  3. Add heavy whipping cream and whisk until the frosting forms peaks
  4. If the frosting is not thick enough, let sit in fridge for a bit and whip again
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5 Tips for Cuisine in College Campus Cafeterias

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Eating in the Cafeteria

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I cannot stress enough how badly you need to take advantage of cafeterias on campus freshman year. There were a few on the Alabama campus and many of them would have fun deals certain nights of the week. My new freshman friends and I would get together on those nights and spend hours there thoroughly enjoying ourselves and getting to know each other. Our favorite was breakfast for dinner. The tricky part is when you have a student account, you do not know how much you are spending and can end up spending all your “dining dollars” within a month (may or may not be speaking from experience here).

  1. Take advantage of the fresh greens. Get a salad and fill your plate up with greens and a variety of nutrient dense salad toppings. Most school cafeterias have great salad bars similar to Ruby Tuesday's endless, create your own salad bar (aka the best type of food bar). Try to add some fresh vegetables like bell peppers or broccoli to your salad to achieve a high fiber dish. If you want to make a salad your whole meal, get some chicken from the home-cooking station, to add some filling protein on top. Get creative and add some colorful fruit like blueberries and strawberries for some potassium and vitamin C. And remember, you need carbohydrates to help fuel your active lifestyle so consider adding high fiber carbohydrates such as black beans, corn, or roasted sweet potatoes!
  2. Since most of you are living in dorms, walk to the cafeteria (not alone if late at night).  Most of my exercise freshman year was from walking around campus, to and from class. In this case the walk will be more enjoyable because it ends in a delicious meal rather than a boring class.
  3. If you have a sweet tooth, use cafeteria nights as a time to treat yourself! Unless times have changed, it does not cost extra to get a soft serve cone with your meal-- save your fro-yo money for a fun time out!
  4. Make it a game. Try out all the college cafeterias and find which ones best fit your palate. Many provide: Asian, pasta, pizza, home-cooking, and special breakfast nights! For the Asian station, fill your plate up with stir fry vegetables over a bed of rice and a side of chicken. This will provide the most bang for your buck with fiber rich grains, high protein in your chicken, and immune boosting vitamins and minerals in your stir fry veggies. If you are craving pizza, make it fun and add some other vegetable toppings to get creative with adding extra nutrients. And for those special breakfast nights, you have many options for whole grains and protein but as a delicious example: whole grain buttered toast and sausage links with a side of scrambled eggs and bowl of fresh fruit topped with a dollop of calcium rich yogurt! (or for my personal favorite breakfast treat, waffles topped with whipped cream... YUM).
  5. Don't waste your money elsewhere, if you already have money on a food account through the school, don't let it go to waste and eat sushi or delivery every night. I have used this word a few times but take advantage of this-- this money on a food account will not be coming back again!

Therese Bridges

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Need a quick weeknight dinner idea?

NutriFocusRD has got your answer!

This creamy, nutritious soup hits the spot!  It is a guaranteed family favorite!!

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Creamy Tomato & Tortellini Soup:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ½ lb. Italian Sausage
  • 1 Diced White Onion
  • 24oz Organic Marinara Sauce
  • 8oz Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
  • 32oz Reduced Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 8oz Diced Bella Mushrooms
  • 4-5 cups Fresh Organic Baby Spinach
  • 16-20oz Frozen or Refrigerated Whole Wheat Cheese Tortellini
  • ½ cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • French Bread or Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (Costco)

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot, add EVOO, diced onion, and Italian sausage. Cook until sausage is brown.
  2. Add marinara sauce into the meat mixture and stir well.
  3. Using a whisk, stir in cream cheese until blended well. Once blended, add chicken broth and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms, baby spinach, and cheese tortellini to broth and combine well. Allow to simmer for 7-9 minutes.
  5. Serve soup warm, topped with 1-2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese, and with a warm, crusty French bread for dipping! Enjoy!!!
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5 Tips to Healthy Living in the Dorm

Freshman year of college can be like jumping head first into freezing cold water. It is a whole new world of freedom and it can be tempting to live off of Ramen and beer. I was there four years ago and believe me when I say that dorm life can lead to some bad eating habits. It is all about ease since the only standard cooking method is a microwave. I am here to help with some creative tips to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while living in dorms.

5 Tips to Healthy Living in the Dorm

  1. Establish a food budget and stick to it. I lived in Tutwiler, an all girls dorm, that housed a food mart on the bottom floor. This sounds ideal, but it was all overpriced and I ended up spending WAY too much money there. My roommates and I would end up buying food there almost everyday. Pick a day to buy your weekly groceries and buy everything you will need to avoid multiple trips.
  2. Find a frozen food brand that you love. Frozen vegetables are as good as fresh vegetables. Buy some steamer packs that you can cook in the microwave so you can have opportunities for maintaining a well rounded diet each day.
  3. Join a gym if your school does not provide a Recreation Center. Getting in any amount of exercise a day can help you focus and boost your endorphin levels. I found that when I exercised before a test, I was able to read each question correctly and answer more quickly. Also, while exercising on the stationary bike, I was able to study at the same time, which was incredibly beneficial.
  4. Keep a basket of fruits and vegetables that can be eaten without needing to be cooked. Obviously it is easier to find fruits that are eaten raw but some examples of vegetables include: tomatoes, lettuce, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers. Keep your favorite dip or hummus around to enjoy these vegetables.
  5. Keep nutrient dense, healthy snacks around to help manage hunger and keep your body and brain active!  Eat nutrient dense meals and snacks on a regular schedule to avoid energy slumps!  By running low on energy, you limit your ability to be focused, energized, and alert which leads to poor study habits and poor diet choices.  Listen to your tummy, if it tells you that you're hungry then eat a nutritious snack!

Bonus Tip: Take advantage of on campus events. Not only will you meet new people but more than likely there will be food for you to enjoy!

**Wash all fruit and vegetables before eating (yes, it is possible in dorm sinks)

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Therese Bridges

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.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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)

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10 Ways to Portion-Proof Your Environment

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    1. Plate Portions in Kitchen - You will be less likely to serve yourself additional portions if the food is in another room rather than at the table right in front of you.
    2. Portion From The Package - Don’t eat directly out of a package or container. Always portion it out first.
    3. Downsize The Dishes: Use smaller plates and bowls for your meals/snacks to help control your portion size.
    4. Dining Out for Two: Split an entrée with your dining partner or consider ordering an appetizer for your entrée.
    5. Downsize with a “Doggie Bag” - Portions at restaurants are often very large. Ask the waiter to put half of what you ordered into a ‘doggie bag’ before the food is brought to the table. You’ll be less tempted and you’ll get two meals for the price of one!
    6. Schedule Time for You - Schedule meals and snacks into your calendar so you don’t get so busy that you go hours without eating, which may put you at risk for overeating when you finally find time to eat.
    7. Avoid Desktop Dining - Store midday snacks in your workplace kitchen rather than directly in your office. This will reduce the likelihood of "desktop dining" when you aren’t really hungry.
    8. Snacks Stop Slumps - Always bring an afternoon snack with you to work to help refuel when that 4:00 p.m. slump hits. That way, you won’t be tempted by unhealthy options.
    9. Do Not Shop On An Empty Stomach- Food shopping while hungry is risky because we can make illogical, short-term choices trying to satisfy our urges. Shopping while full lets you use your head to make the right decisions.
    10. Individually Wrapped Foods- Single serving packs, rather than a big box, can give you a better “eye” for your portion size. If products do not come individually packaged, then make your own using plastic baggies. Mentally, it is harder to open up and finish several mini bags than to casually grab handful after handful from a big bag.

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Gambling on Meat? Grass-Fed or Grain-Fed?

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Confused by the hype of grass-fed versus grain-fed beef? Is grass-fed beef really worth the extra expense?

Today NutriFocus highlights 4 good reasons to consider choosing grass-fed beef....

  1. Grass-fed beef is much higher in nutrient levels. Grass-fed beef tends to be leaner, and have higher levels of vitamins, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and beta carotene.  Grass-fed beef has shown to have 4x the levels of vitamin E and 6x the levels of Omega-3 (compared to grain fed beef) which helps reduce the risk of arthritis, obesity, insulin resistance, allergies and autoimmune diseases.  It is also a good source of CLA which is a healthy fat that protects against cancer.
  2. Grass-fed beef is better for the animals. Supports a natural and humane approach to sustainable farming BC the animals are allowed to roam free on the land.
  3. Supports local farming science. Raising livestock on pasture requires knowledge and skill -- it is a true science!!
  4. Grass-fed animals are healthy and drug-free. Cows fed grain can suffer digestive problems because grain is not their natural diet and is not digested properly. This can lead to the use of  antibiotics and other medications which ultimately pollutes our food supply and environment.

This NutriFocusRD original recipe won me major points with my husband so I could not resist sharing this easy, slow-cooker meal with my NutriFocus Family!!!  This chili is super easy, full of fiber, powered with protein, and packed full with vegetables!  It is perfect for a weeknight dinner or to serve at your next tailgating party!! Best news is... it is even better the next day!!!  Hope you guys enjoy!!

Organic Beef and 3-Bean Chili:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef
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  • 1 Red Onion, Diced
  • 3 Celery Stalks, Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, Seeded and Diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 (29oz) can Tomato Puree
  • 1 (15oz) can Red Kidney Beans, Drained
  • 1 (15oz) can Cannellini Beans, with Liquid
  • 1 (15oz) can Chickpeas, Drained
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp Smoked Paprika (optional)
  • 2 tsp Dried Parsley
  • 1 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce

Directions:

Place ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Season with 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 Tbsp Cumin, ½ Tbsp Smoked Paprika, 1 tsp Garlic Salt, and Ground Black Pepper. Cook until evenly brown. Drain remaining liquid.

Place the beef in your slow-cooker. Add in onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, drained kidney beans, drained chickpeas, and cannellini beans with liquid. Season mixture with 1 Tbsp chili powder, dried parsley, garlic salt, dried basil, oregano, black pepper and sriracha sauce. Stir mixture well. Cover and cook on low for 8-hours!

Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese and low-fat sour cream and serve alongside sweet cornbread muffins!

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To Locate Local Grass-Fed Farms, Check Out the Eat Wild Website for Farms Across the Southeast!

3 Reasons to Start Eating Chickpeas!

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I love foods that are versatile!!!  This is probably the main reason I love chickpeas!! Chickpeas can be used in salads, soups, curries, chilis or stews.  I highly recommend that you consider roasting chickpeas as a tasty and inexpensive protein source!

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 In addition to their versatility, chickpeas also offer 3 health benefits you do not want to miss.

  1. Reduce Cholesterol Levels: Research has shown that including 3/4 cup of chickpeas in your diet can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) which in turn, lowers your risk of heart disease!  Research has also shown that individuals that consume chickpeas on a regular basis have better body fat regulation, lower LDL cholesterol levels, lower total cholesterol levels, and lower triglyceride levels.
  2. Control Hunger Cues: Due to their high fiber and high protein content, this powerful combination will stabilize your hunger cues.  My consuming 1/2 cup chickpeas in your daily intake you are more likely to eat an appropriate amount of calories for your body due to more accurate hunger/fullness cues.  The long-term benefit means your body will rest at a healthy body weight.
  3. Improved Digestive Support: Did you know that 2 cups of chickpeas will give you approximately 28 grams of fiber? That is 100% of the recommended daily value!  Consider chickpeas a staple on your grocery list if you want good colon health. 65-70% of the fiber found in chickpeas is insoluble fiber.  This means the fiber is not digested until it reaches the very end of your colon which promotes healthy bacteria growth and reduces your risk of colon cancer!

Today, I'm sharing the easy concept of roasting chickpeas so you can always have a tasty, nutrient dense, meatless protein option available for your main entrée or for a snack!

Roasted Chickpeas:

Ingredients:

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  • 2 - 15oz Cans of Low Sodium Chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Assorted Herbs and Spices of Your Choice (I like to use Dried Thyme, Oregano, Ground Cayenne Pepper, and Crushed Rosemary)
  • Garlic Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

Pre-Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  Drain and rinse chickpeas.  Pat dry.  Once dry, toss chickpeas with EVOO, assorted spices and herbs of your choosing, garlic salt, and ground black pepper.  Toss chickpeas to make sure they are evenly coated with EVOO and herbs/spices.  Pour chickpeas onto baking sheet and spread out so that all chickpeas are in a single layer.  Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  Stir chickpeas halfway through cooking process to cook evenly on all sides. Serve hot or cold.  This recipes makes 4-5 servings.

I like to serve roasted chickpeas on salads or over rice as a curry!  Roasted chickpeas are great to make hummus and delicious as a portable snack!!!  Be creative and enjoy this nutrient dense food!!!

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13 Quotes About Your Body You Need to Hear

Happy Monday NutriFocus Family!!! 

In Honor of #Motivation #Monday I'm sharing an encouraging reminder to LOVE YOUR BODY!!!!  Check out These 13 Quotes Your Body Needs to Hear!

13 Quotes About Your Body You Need to Hear - WorldLifestyle.

Greek-Style Green Beans

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Need a quick and simple side dish, but do not want to compromise your nutrient intake? 

Looking for a side dish that provides a nutrient-dense punch with delicious flavor?

Do you have 5-minutes?

If you answered yes, then Greek-Style Green Beans are the perfect side dish for you!!!

Greek-Style Green Beans are extremely versatile. They pair nicely with sandwiches, grilled wraps, or alongside chicken, tuna, or salmon salad. (Pictured below is Greek-Style Green Beans Mediterranean Chicken Salad from Whole Foods on a Bed of Greek-Style Green Beans -- Flavorful Lunch Idea That is Quick on Time and High in Nutrients!!)

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These flavorful beans also provide the crunch that most individuals enjoy about potato chips.

Consider this dish for your next tailgating party. It can be served hot or cold and compliments all grilled meats, burgers, and sliders!

Greek-Style Green Beans:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package Green Beans in a Steamable Bag
  • 2-3 Handfuls Organic Baby Spinach Leaves
  • ½ Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) or Coconut Oil
  • ½ Red Onion, Diced
  • ¼ cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • ½ cup Kalamata Olives (pitted)
  • Garlic Salt to Taste
  • Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Directions:

Microwave green beans according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté baby spinach and diced red onion in a skillet over medium heat. Once green beans are cooked, add the beans to the spinach and onion mixture. Gentle toss in crumbled feta, garlic salt, pepper and olives. Serve hot or cold.

Wild-Caught Pesto Cod with Tomato & Olive Relish - Dinner in Less Than 15 Min!

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Time.

It seems to be the most common and prevalent barrier between people eating a nutrient-dense diet and fueling their body to do the activities that are taking up so much time!

How many times have you justified going through the drive-thru window b/c of no time? How many times have you skipped a meal due to a “lack of time”? How many times have you microwaved an unappetizing tv dinner due to a time crunch?  

Food Myth: “To eat “healthy” or nutrient dense means I must spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, dirty up a lot of dishes, and eat bland foods.”

NutriFocusRD has news for you!!

THAT IS A LIE!!!!! And I can prove it!!!!

Last week, I started with fresh, nutrient-packed ingredients and had dinner on the table on 14min and 23 seconds flat! Yes, I timed it and proud of it!!! I wanted to see exactly how long it would take to prepare and serve a balanced, tasty meal. And I was extremely surprised!!!

I proudly served up Wild-Caught Pesto Cod topped with a Tomato & Olive Relish on a Bed of Wilted Organic Spinach. I finished off the dish by pairing it with warm slices of Rosemary & Sea Salt French Baguette!

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So no more excuses… It’s time to make health our priority so we can enjoy our loved ones, hobbies, and activities to the fullest!!!! I’ve shared the recipe below!!! Bon Appetite!

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 Wild-Caught Pesto Cod Served with Tomato & Olive Relish:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Wild-Caught Cod Filets (Frozen – Allow to Thaw Before Cooking) (Can also use tilapia, mahi-mahi or other white flaky fish)
  • 4 Tbsp Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Cooking Spray
  • 4 Tbsp Homemade or Store Bought Pesto
  • 1-2 Small to Medium Sized Tomatoes
  • 8 Kalamata Olives, Pitted & Sliced
  • Garlic Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • French Baguette
  • Sea Salt
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Organic Baby Spinach or Frozen Spinach Leaves

Directions:

Pre-Heat Oven to 425 Degrees.

Pat fish dry and place on a baking pan covered in cooking spray. Top each cod filet with 1 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese. Place in oven to cook for 8-10 minutes.

While fish cooks, prepare relish, bread, and spinach. For relish, dice tomatoes and place in small bowl. Add Kalamata olive slices to the tomatoes. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Toss with EVOO and sit to the side.

For bread, slice French baguette into single servings. Drizzle each slice with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt and dried rosemary. Place in heated oven with fish for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté spinach on the stovetop in a skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of EVOO. If you purchase frozen spinach, place in microwave.

When fish is done cooking, top each filet with 1 Tbsp pesto. Place each pesto cod filet on a bed of wilted spinach and garnish with Tomato Olive Relish. Serve the Rosemary & Sea Salt French Baguette on the side! Delish!    

Salsa Verde Mexican Potato Hash

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Mexican Potato Hash:

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 Russet Potatoes, Grated or 1 Bag Refrigerated Potato Shreds
  • 1 Onion, Diced or sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • ½ Tbsp Ground Red Pepper
  • Garlic Salt (to taste)
  • Ground Black Pepper (to Taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2-3 cups Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Salsa Verde Chicken or Shredded Rotisserie Chicken
  • ¼ cup Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese or 50% Reduced Fat Cabot Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese
  • Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • Sliced Jalapenos (optional)
  • Sriracha Sauce (optional)

Directions:

Heat coconut oil in large skillet. Mix grated potatoes, onion, cumin, ground red pepper, garlic salt, and ground black pepper together. Place in skillet in flat layer. All potatoes to cook around 7-9 minutes or until golden brown. Flip potatoes over which may need to be done in segments. Cook another 7-9 minutes. Meanwhile saute spinach in skillet until wilted. Re-heat Salsa Verde Chicken or shred rotisserie chicken to prepare for assembly.

Place 2/3 – 1 cup shredded potatoes on plate. Top with sautéed spinach, 2 Tbsp shredded cheese, salsa verde chicken, sriracha sauce, sliced jalapenos, and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Recommend serving with a salad or roasted vegetable of choice!

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11 Signs You Have a Healthy Relationship with Food

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I liked this article and wanted to share with my NutriFocus family!!!!  How many of these signs can you claim?!

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14274/11-signs-you-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-food.html

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Roasted Tomato Pie

It's Not Summer Until You've Enjoyed A Roasted Tomato Pie!! ROASTED TOMATO PIE InspIred by 2FrugalFoodies Deep Dish Pie Crust 8-10 Tomatoes Fresh Basil Leaves 1/2 cup Low-Fat Hellman's Mayo Dried Oregano 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

To Roast Tomatoes: Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil. Slice tomatoes into 1/2- inch slices and lay flat on baking sheet. (It usually takes about 2 baking sheets.) Baste tomato slices with EVOO, sea salt & ground pepper. Bake in oven for 45-55 minutes.

Increase oven temp to 400 degrees. Bake pie crust for 10-minutes. Take out and pie crust and place 2 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese at bottom. Layer 1/2 tomatoes with 1/2 Fresh basil leave and repeat once. Top tomatoes with mayo mixture (mix mayo, Parmesan, pepper, Salt, and oregano) and remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. ENJOY!!!

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Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad

I LOVE summer!!! When it comes to fresh produce, no other season compares!!! The bright colors of fruits & veggies, the fragrant smell of fresh herbs, and abundance of local farmers markets, can entice anyone..... I fell victim this weekend when I made a trip to Pepper Place Farmer's Market located in Birmingham .... I came home with arms loaded!

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One dish I created from my farmers market trip was inspired by MyRecipes.com. This recipe is quick, easy, and full of summer flavors!!!

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Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad:Serves 4Salad Ingredients: 3-4 Heirloom Tomatoes (a variety of colors add dimension) 3-5 Small Tomatoes (green zebras, red zebras, and yellow tomatoes) Handful of Cherry Tomatoes 2 Peaches, Diced 1 Red Onion Diced 1 Large Avocado, Diced Sea Salt Ground Black Pepper 1 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese Handful of Purple Basil, Shredded Salad Dressing: 1.5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar Salt Ground Black Pepper 2 teaspoon Honey

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix EVOO, sherry vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, and honey in a bowl or shake in a small mason jar. Pour over tomato mixture. Gently fold in avocado, Basil, and crumbled feta cheese.

Serve as a side with sandwiches or grilled burgers. This salad also pairs great with grilled chicken, fish or pork, or as the main entree along side pecorino & pesto crostini!

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