/> Clean Convenient Cuisine: 2010

Clean Convenient Cuisine

Reset your tastebuds!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Redirecting to ChicagoNow

Hi, guys! We have been invited to join the ranks at ChicagoNow, so bear with us as we make this transition over the next few days. We will try to get all of the previous posts on there, so we can have the same archives. The new address will be www.chicagonow.com/blogs/clean-convenient-cuisine

Spread the word, and thanks for following!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Perfect Fridge

Have you ever opened your refrigerator and felt like a homeless person lives at your home? Or a frat boy? Why is it that when you really need something to eat, you are left with nothing but condiments, sticky door trays and maybe a can of coke or a block of cheese? Moldy vegetables are often another concern (though, certain fridges make the produce bins at eye level now, so you are constantly reminded about them). There are several tricks to stocking your fridge the right way to keep an organized system.

Tips For The Perfect Fridge

1. The first obvious tip is only buy what you need for a few days or the entire week. Take a menu with you to the grocery store, so you are aptly prepared. If you know it's unrealistic for you to buy for the whole week, plan out 2-3 days or breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It doesn't have to be complicated. When you get home, cut up veggies or do your "prep" work. Sundays are great days for this, and then store your prepared snacks or meals in the proper bins or shelves.

2. Before you go to the store, clean out your fridge. Think of it as "spring cleaning," something you should do every few months to make sure you're not holding on to almost empty containers of salad dressings and ketchup bottles. Clear out the inside of any half-open jars, old condiments or moldy veggies. Get rid of leftovers if they have been in the fridge more than 48 hours. Think about how you will organize your fridge when you return.

3. Do not overcrowd fridge, as this prevents proper air circulation.

Contents Of The Perfect Fridge

At the store, try to concentrate on the following:
Nuts, seeds, peanut butter
Bottled water
Chicken, fish, turkey, tofu
Yogurt, cheese, milk
Oatmeal, brown rice, bread

Work around the perimeter of the store and only pop into the aisles when you need to pick up jars or boxed grains.

Organizing The Perfect Fridge

1. Store vegetables and fruits separately. Store veggies in GREEN BAGS, so you don't have to keep them in the crisper. They do best in a warmer part of the fridge (around 50 degrees). Often times, when we put foods in the crisper, they go bad, because we forget about them. Use a lower shelf and keep them visible, so you know when to use them. Look at your menu. Position the fruits and veggies you will be using that day at the forefront, and then rotate to the next batch for the next day. Lettuce and herbs often go bad when they come in contact with plastic, so wrap them in paper towels first before putting them back in plastic bags. Apples also emit a gas that can cause other produce to spoil, so keep them out of the crisper drawer or store them by themselves.

2. Keep similar foods together, so you know where they are.

3. Store yogurt, cheese, dips, butter and smaller items on the top shelf, so they are at eye level.

4. Store meat at the bottom of the fridge on a "meats-only" tray, as some products can drip in their natural packaging.

5. Position eggs in their original carton near the top of the fridge, as the temperature is cooler here than in the egg tray.

6. Store drinks, bottles, jars and condiments on shelves near the inside of the refrigerator door, but only those that you will use. Don't buy in bulk. Make sure all lids are tightly closed.

Clean your refrigerator. Use common sense when storing cooked meats and leftovers (use glass containers instead of plastic).

Happy shopping!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Butternut Squash Fries!

As the seasons change, butternut squash is a staple in many dishes. I had a friend ask if I'd ever eaten butternut squash fries, to which I replied, "Um, excuse me? Butternut squash fries?" I was immediately intrigued. A big fan of sweet potato fries, I had not let my imagination wander over to the possibility of squash fries. That is, until yesterday.

A type of winter squash, butternut squash tastes similar to pumpkin and can be roasted, toasted or pureed to make a variety of dishes. A natural way to reduce inflammation, it can help those with joint pain. It is also high in beta-carotene, which can help reduce the severity of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

So, the next time you are craving fries, check out this nutty, sweet indulgence.

1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
olive oil
spices (paprika, curry, cayenne, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Use a sharp knife to cut away the peel from the squash. Cut the squash into sticks like French fries and throw into a bowl. Toss with olive oil and spices, place a lid on the bowl and shake until evenly coated. Arrange squash pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, turing halfway through baking. Fries are done when they start to brown and become crispy. (Cooking times may vary.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Have A Gluten Allergy!

Food allergies can strike at any time. Blame it on the environment, the additives and preservatives in food, an unhealthy lifestyle, genetics or mother nature, but having food allergies can make it hard to eat in restaurants (or even at home).

Gluten allergies are becoming more common, but it is one of the easiest ingredients to stay away from without affecting your overall health or diet. In fact, you are likely to improve your diet, because most foods with gluten are processed.

What exactly is gluten? A mixture of two proteins, present in cereal, grains and wheat, gluten is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. Some people are unable to digest it, hence a gluten allergy (or celiac disease). Luckily, numerous store bought foods now come gluten-free. When you have a gluten allergy, the main things to stay away from are wheat, rye and barley, though gluten is often unassumingly present in numerous foods. (If you suspect you might have an intolerance, you can ask for a complete gluten intolerance test at the doctor - or simply eliminate foods with gluten to see if you feel better.)

Foods safe to eat in the "grain" variety are corn, potato, rice, soybeans, arrowroot, carob, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. Always look at the package label to determine the ingredients. This is a chance to comprise your diet full of whole, natural foods with lots of fresh veggies, proteins, healthy grains and fruits.

However, if you do have this allergy and you occasionally want to bake something sweet, there are many wonderful options (entire shops and blogs are now dedicated to a gluten-free lifestyle). Below is a delicious, gluten-free recipe to make on those days when you want something sweet but healthy!

Pumpkin Quinoa Cookies

1 cup Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes
1 cup sorghum flour (or fine brown rice flour)
1/4 cup millet flour
1 tbs. tapioca starch or potato starch
1 tsp. xantham gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cups organic light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup spectrum organic shortening
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 tbs. pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp. light tasting vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (quinoa flakes down to cloves). Add in shortening and combine the mixture until it's crumbly. Add in the pumpkin down to the lemon juice and beat to combine. Stir in chocolate chips, raisins and nuts and drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the parchment paper. Bake until golden and firm.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's For Dinner: Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this healthy, delectable entree. I first discovered sweet potato quesadillas at The Chicago Diner and have been hooked on them ever since. If you need a little extra protein, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or like the Diner, seitan (derived from the protein portion of wheat). I enjoy them just with the black beans and sweet potatoes. It's an easy, quick recipe ready in about 15 minutes that can be enjoyed any night of the week!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

1 25 oz. can organic black beans
2 large sweet potatoes
4 large spinach or wheat tortillas
1 cup spinach
1 bag soy cheese
1 avocado, mashed
soy sour cream (tastes exactly like the real thing)
homemade salsa (or diced tomatoes and onions)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave the sweet potatoes until tender. Peel and mash by hand. Rinse the beans in cold water and heat on stove. Right before they are done, mash lightly with a fork. Spread the sweet potato and bean mixture on 4 tortillas, sprinkle with soy cheese and a few leaves of spinach. Fold each tortilla in half and heat in oven until tortillas are crispy. Cut each into four equal squares and serve with mashed avocado, salsa and soy sour cream. A healthy, enjoyable treat for the whole family! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Make Your Own Protein Bar!

I've perused the store numerous times in need of something quick and healthy, and protein bars usually do the trick. Though there are healthy bars out there, most of them come with an ingredient list a mile long. Some have the right amount of protein, but a ton of fat. Some have a ton of fat, but no protein. Some have lower fat and higher protein, but a ton of sugar. Some look good, but are full of cheap ingredients. There doesn't seem to be that perfect ratio of ingredients - until now.

Making your own protein bars allows you to control what goes into them, based on your own personal preferences and dietary needs. And the best part is most of them don't even have to be baked - just refrigerated for a few hours. In our case, Alex and I want something that can be eaten as a snack, has a little healthy fat, a good ratio of carbs and protein, and organic ingredients. As you will note, most of these contain oats, peanut butter and whey, so if you don't want any of these ingredients, play around with different types of protein and nut butters to come up with your own perfect recipe.

No-Bake Energy Bars

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
1 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
1 cup dried, chopped fruit
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup organic honey

Mix all ingredients well and freeze, then cut into bars.

Quick Protein Bars

3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
4 scoops protein powder
dash of cinnamon

Mix until a sticky batter is formed. Use a large spoon to spread the mixture into the bottom of a glass or metal cooking tray sprayed with Pam. Put in the fridge overnight and cut into 8 equal bars.

285 calories, 11 g fat (good monounsaturated fats), 26 carbs, 21 g protein

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars

1 cup oat flour
1 1/2 cups whey protein powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup stevia blend (or organic sugar)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x9 baking pan with wax paper. Combine all dry ingredients in a blender. Process for about two minutes. In a bowl, beat eggs and peanut butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. With an electric mixer, slowly add the water until dough becomes gooey. Pour batter in lined pan, pressing dough to an even thickness. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool, first on wax paper, then on a plate. Cut into 8 bars.

250 calories, 7 g fat, 24 carbs, 24 g protein

3 Ingredient Protein Bar

1/4 cup natural nut butter
40 ml Half-n-half
25 g chocolate whey protein

Combine whey and nut butter in a bowl. Mix slightly and then add half-n-half. Remove from bowl and shape into a bar!

A Little Bit of Heaven Protein Bar

3 cups organic raw oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened organic shredded coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
2 cups organic nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup + 2 tbs. raw agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup organic peanut butter or almond butter
1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic coconut oil, melted
1 bar of organic dark chocolate, chopped or 1 cup organic dark chocolate chips
1 cup organic chopped seeds or nuts
1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins, figs or other dried fruit (optional)
1 cup vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a 9x13 inch baking dish with coconut oil or cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients (oats through brown sugar) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients (greek yogurt through coconut oil). Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, and then mix in the chocolate. Taste and add more peanut butter, fruit or protein powder. Mix well using clean hands.

Spread the mixture into prepared dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool and then slice them. Spread the bars on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 more minutes. Allow to cool and then wrap and store in refrigerator.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How To Fix 10 Common Cooking Mistakes!

It's happened to the best of us. In an attempt to cook for a party, yourself, or guests, something goes wrong. The food is overcooked, it's too salty or sweet, and you have no idea what to do. Not to worry - even the most experienced chefs experience cooking blunders. We have answers to some of the most common cooking problems.

1. It's Too Salty! If you've over salted sauces or soups, add a raw, sliced potato to the mixture. Potatoes absorb excess salt. Just be sure to toss before serving. You can also add more liquid, sugar or vinegar to equal out the mixture.

2. It's Too Spicy! If there's too much heat, add more of the other ingredients in the dish, or hot water to tame the heat. Adding tomatoes, ketchup, sugar or even a dollop of plain yogurt can help as well.

3. It's Too Sweet! Add a spoonful of cider vinegar, a bit of lemon juice or a dash of olive oil to reduce sweetness.

4. It's Too Acidic! Try adding a bit of baking soda or salt to reduce acidity.

5. It's Too Thin! If you're cooking a sauce and it's too thin, try adding a bit of flour or cornstarch to thicken it up. Use sparingly, however, as a little goes a very long way.

6. It's Too Thick! It might seem obvious, but adding a bit of liquid will work. However, add only a bit at a time not to thin out the mixture too much.

7. It's Too Mushy! If you've overcooked vegetables, turn them into a puree or a soup, by combining with a broth or cream in a blender. You can also mash the veggies with a little milk, especially if the veggies are potatoes, cauliflower or carrots.

8. It's Too Bland! If you feel like your dish is missing something, remove a small part of it, and play around with adding different spices to that small section, before you add seasoning to the entire dish.

9. It's Too Dry! If you've made fish or a meat that's dried out, simply whip up a sauce to cover it, or just mash up the meat to make salmon cakes (or a chicken or turkey burger).

10. It's Too Burnt! If you've burned a sauce or rice, you know it can take on a different flavor altogether.  The first tip is to move the burnt food to a new pot. If you have burned rice, wipe two or three onions with a clean, damp cloth and remove the papery outer peels. Take those peels and spread them over the unburned rice. Cover the pot and let sit for 15 minutes. The onion peels absorb the bitterness. Discard before serving.

The bottom line is not to panic if you've made a cooking mistake. Get creative, remember these tips and come up with some of your own!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How to Make Easy Meals From Common Pantry Staples!

We've all been there: we don't feel like cooking or attempting to fight the masses at the grocery store, and we really don't want to spend the money on takeout. If we could only start to utilize every pantry item, we would all spend less and actually come up with some appetizing meals. There are a lot of healthy options you can make from those cans just sitting in the pantry. First, make sure they aren't expired, and then follow these tips to make easy recipes when you're in a pinch.


1. Canned tomato products
2. Canned vegetables
3. Canned meats (salmon, tuna, chicken)
4. Beans
5. Low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
6. Peanut butter
7. Olive oil
8. Pasta
9. Bread
10. Spices

Start thinking about these items in different ways. What can you pair together to make a quick and easy meal? What canned item can you combine with a fresh item to make something quick and tasty?


1. Combine canned meat with greek yogurt and chopped veggies for a quick chicken or tuna salad.
2. Add peanut butter and banana to bread for a quick sandwich and grill the bread for added texture (see below for peanut butter french toast recipe).
3. Short on time? Make a protein shake and throw in yogurt, oatmeal or berries... whatever you have lying around the house.
4. Have dried fruit, nuts, healthy cereal or chocolate? Make a healthy trail mix by throwing together these options and portioning into ziplocs to take to work.
5. Pair a pantry item with something fresh. Nuts with fresh fruit or canned meat with a fresh salad.


1. Mix canned tomato products, veggies, tuna, beans with low-sodium chicken or veggie broth for a thick, tasty soup. Make sure you drain and rinse the veggies and beans to get rid of all the salt.
2. Make a quick tasty pasta dish by cooking noodles, adding canned tomatoes and canned tuna or salmon in a skillet. Once the noodles are ready, scoop them into the skillet with the sauce and mix well.
3. Make a quick meal of beans, veggies and rice. Need some protein? Add canned chicken or tuna for a quick, healthy meal.
4. Don't forget about spices. Spices go a long way in adding flavor without calories. Making chicken? Add curry or ginger. Start thinking of how you can punch up plain foods with added flavors.
5. Don't be afraid to try different combinations of flavors. Try something with peanut butter and chicken, or tuna and tomato. You might surprise yourself at how creative you can get with using materials you already own.


2 egg whites
1 dash vanilla extract
2 tbs. peanut butter
1 small banana, sliced
Cooking spray or 1 tbs. olive oil

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg whites and vanilla together. Spread 1 tbs. peanut butter on top of each slice of bread. Place the banana slices on top of one of the slices of bread. Place the other slice of bread on top of the first to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Heat a skillet with cooking spray or olive oil. Dip the sandwich into the egg white mixture and place in heated skillet. Cook until brown on both sides.

Friday, September 3, 2010

5 Fabulous Turkey Recipes!

Turkey is a great lean protein. A mere 4 ounce serving provides 65% of your daily protein requirements. Turkey has selenium, an essential component for thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxodant defense and immune function. Turkey also contains vitamin B6, which is important for energy production and the breakdown of glycogen. When purchasing turkey, aim for lean, ground turkey instead of deli meat, due to the higher salt content. Below are 5 simple recipes to give you a different dose of protein.

Homemade Turkey Sausage

1 pound lean ground turkey
3/4 tsp. AlsoSalt (optional)
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Crumble turkey into a large bowl. Add spices. Shape into eight two-inch patties. In a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook patties over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side (or until no longer pink).

Healthy Turkey Meatloaf

1 pound ground turkey
2 egg whites
1/2 cup salsa (low-sodium)
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and in a large bowl, combine turkey, eggs, salsa, peppers, onions and bread crumbs, and pepper. Mix well with hands and then press into a loaf pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

1 tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 can organic black beans (slightly drained)
1 can diced tomatoes (low salt)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne
1/2 cup greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey and cook until brown. Drain and mix in black beans, tomato and pumpkin. Season with chili powder and cayenne. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Turkey Meatballs

1 package ground turkey (93/7)
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
garlic powder
1/4 cup egg whites or egg beaters
2 tsp. minced onion
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/5 tsp. garlic powder
pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the ground turkey in a large bowl and add 1 1/2 to 2 cups bread crumbs. Add the egg whites and spices and mix together with two spoons, so you are constantly folding in the spices. Make 1 inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with foil (and sprayed with cooking spray), about 1 inch apart. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the turkey gets a brown crust on top. Throw them in a pasta sauce and simmer, or eat them with veggies or a yogurt dip for a clean snack.

Sweet Potato Turkey Shephard's Pie

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, grated
4 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
4 tsp. olive oil
2 tbs. flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low-sodium)
a few dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 10-ounce box frozen organic peas
1/3 ripe banana, sliced
a few dashes hot pepper sauce
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or vegan cheese)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large pan, combine sweet potatoes and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside, reserving the pot. In a deep skillet, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over high heat. Add the turkey and cook. Stir in the onion, carrots and celery. Season with pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

In another small pan, heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour for 1 minute, then whisk in broth and season with worcestershire sauce. Simmer for a few minutes until thick, then stir into the turkey mixture. Stir in the peas and remove from heat. Add remaining 2 tsp. olive oil to the sweet potato pot and melt over medium-low. Add the sweet potatoes back to this pot with banana. Add hot sauce and mash until combined.

Top the turkey with the sweet potato mixture and smooth the top. Cover the sweet potatoes with cheese and bake until the cheese is completely melted, about 5 minutes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Healthy Dips and Sauces

Who doesn't love spinach and artichoke dip, heavy yogurt dressings, salad dressings, french onion dip, ranch or a creamy hollandaise sauce? These little sauces are often the hidden culprits when it comes to packing on the pounds while eating out. However, there are healthier ways to make even the most popular dishes. So, the next time you are throwing a party or are in the mood for snacking, try one of these instead!

Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 package frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained and patted dry)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 tbs. olive oil
1 package firm silken tofu
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
3 garlic cloves
2-3 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/3 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion, spinach and artichoke hearts in olive oil until onion is soft, around 5 minutes. Blend together tofu, yeast, garlic, vinegar and spices in blender until smooth. Combine all ingredients. Smooth into nonstick baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with pita bread.

Peanut Butter Yogurt

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbs. all-natural peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1 tsp sucanat

Mix or whisk all ingredients together until smooth.

Low-Fat Hollandaise

1 package silken soft tofu, drained
4 tbs plain nonfat greek yogurt
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs + 1tsp white wine Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes white pepper
1 dash cayenee pepper
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs honey

In a blender or a food processor, whip all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Heat sauce on low to medium heat and spoon immediately over veggies (or meat).

Healthy Ranch Dressing

1 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fresh pepper
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. vegenaise (or organic mayo)
1 tsp. fresh parsley
2 tbs. grated Parmesan
1 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients and chill before serving.

Healthy Ketchup

2 8 oz. cans of organic tomato paste
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup honey

Bring ingredients to a boil on the stove. Simmer for 15 minutes, then take off heat for 10 minutes. Pour into condiment jar and refrigerate.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Healthy Pumpkin Pudding

The other night, Alex and I had a healthy dinner of chicken and veggies, but both of us were craving something sweet. Out of dark chocolate and unwilling to go to the store to grab a piece of vegan cake, I rummaged the cupboards for something. What I threw together was actually incredibly satisfying, and as Alex took his first bite and I asked how it was, he said, "It's like Christmas." This pudding is easy and packed full of protein, fiber and vitamins. Eat this "dessert" guilt free!

Healthy Pumpkin Pudding

1 can pure pumpkin
2 scoops vanilla whey or soy protein *
2 cups soy or skim milk (if you don't have time to let it "set" in the fridge, use yogurt instead)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
crushed pecans (optional)
1 tbs. whipped cream (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pour into bowls. Pop in the fridge until cold (or freezer for less time). Take pecans, throw in a ziploc with some cinnamon and grind the nuts with a rolling pin (or the bottom of a glass). Sprinkle on top, along with the whipped cream before serving.

Want to make your own whipped cream?

1 1/2 cups very cold organic heavy cream
2 tsp. organic sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla

Put cold heavy cream into a mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer, starting with a low speed and then speeding up as the cream thickens. Once it gets soft peaks, stop. Fold in sugar and vanilla and serve!

* In a recent consumer report (July issue), many protein powders are said to contain metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Among the popular brands, EAS Myoplex, Dessert, and Muscle Milk were some of the worst.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

5 Things To Do With Fresh Corn!

The end of summer is approaching, and what better way to say goodbye than with fresh corn? Cheap and flavorful, this vegetable often gets a bad rap, but not only is it an American staple, it has been known to help control diabetes, prevent heart ailments, lower hypertension and is also rich in A, B and E vitamins, as well as lutein, a compound that helps keep your eyes healthy as you age. Also, one ear of corn sports 4 grams of fiber. When shopping, look for husks with moist silks. Feel through the husks for plump kernels.

Here are 5 healthy, easy recipes to try with fresh corn.

Corn and Basil Cakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk (or soy, hemp, almond, etc.)
2 large eggs (or egg whites)
2 tbs. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 large ears)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Whisk flour, milk, eggs, 1 tbs. oil, baking powder and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in corn and basil. Brush a large nonstick skillet lightly with some of the remaining oil. Heat over medium until hot (but not too hot). Use about 1/4 cup batter for each cake. Cook until the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining oil and batter, making around 10 cakes. (Reduce heat as you continue cooking to reduce burning). Each cake (around 3 inches wide) has only 180 calories and 7 grams of protein!

Chilled Cilantro Corn Soup

4 ears sweet corn
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup organic sour cream (or nonfat greek yogurt)
2 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped (optional)
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Cut the corn from the cobs. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the cut corn. Simmer until tender, around 7 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking. Let it cool. In a blender or food processor, blend the corn with its cooking liquid, then press through a strainer (to remove the tough parts). Set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and saute until soft. Return the corn to the blender or food processor. Add onion and sour cream (or yogurt). Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in chopped peppers. Chill the soup (or eat warm). Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Creamed Corn Soup

1 cup low-fat milk
2 cups corn kernels
1 tbs. honey or agave nectar
pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne
minced parsley or sunflower seeds (for garnish)

Combine 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of corn and 1 tbs. honey in a blender. Add pepper and blend on medium for 1 minute. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining 1 cup of corn kernels with the corn puree. Transfer to a soup pot and heat on medium heat for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley or toasted sunflower seeds.

Avocado-Corn Salsa

1 medium avocado, diced
3/4 cup fresh corn
1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 tbs. fresh cilantro
2 tsp. lime juice

Toss avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice in a medium bowl.

Mexican Grilled Corn

4 ears corn, husked
2 tbs. vegenaise (egg-free mayo)
2 tbs. nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
4 tbs. parmesan cheese (or shredded queso)
1 lime

Preheat grill to medium-high (if you don't have a grill, cook corn on griddle, in foil in the oven or on gas stovetop). Combine vegenaise, yogurt and chili powder in a small bowl. Grill corn, turning until marked and tender, about 10 minutes. Spread wtih 1 tbs. of the sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Squeeze with lime before serving.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Truth About Bread

It's no surprise there are many opinions (and options) when it comes to the "b" word. Don't eat it, eat it in moderation, eat whole grain, whole wheat, multi-grain, flax bread, hemp bread, gluten free bread. Eat no bread. Eat a lot of bread. The lists continue. I recently had a client email me, explaining how overwhelmed he became when he approached the bread aisle. There, endless, packaged loaves stared back at him, screaming out whole grains, multi-grain, 12-grain, whole wheat, health nut, healthy grains. It was endless. Funny, how when you're in Europe, you grab a baguette, a wedge of soft cheese, a bottle of wine, and you never think about what you're eating, because you know it's fresh. It was made with care.

Here, you can grab something that looks healthy and fresh, but much to your disappointment, it is as processed and full of "bad" ingredients as candy. Just to be clear, bread isn't bad. Sure, there are other "carbs" you would be better off eating: cruciferous vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal and sweet potatoes, to name a few. But, let's face it: bread tastes good and more likely than not, you are going to engage in a sandwich, a baguette or an english muffin (or, as I did this weekend, a thick, sesame bagel slathered with light cream cheese, peanut butter and honey. Pair that with a steaming cup of coffee and you will be in heaven. I promise.) Here are some tips when shopping for bread:

The first thing you should always do is read the ingredient list. That first ingredient should say 100% whole wheat, or something comparable. Steer clear of words like NATURAL WHOLE GRAIN or MADE WITH WHOLE GRAINS. This is just another way of saying that WHITE FLOUR is an active ingredient.

Enriched wheat flour actually means "white" flour. Quite simply, most of the nutrients and minerals are milled out of the wheat kernel, and the manufacturer attempts to "enrich" the bread with those stripped nutrients by putting them back in.

A bread can say "multi-grain, "9 grain," or "12 grain," and most of those grains can still be unhealthy. Study the ingredient list. A short list is a better list.

A healthy slice of bread should be low in sodium and sugar, and have at least 2-3 grams of fiber per slice.

The most important thing is to READ THE INGREDIENT LIST. Period.

Despite the regular brand name breads, there are others, like Ezekial, which is healthier, as it's made from sprouted grains (such as barley, spelt and wheat) and aren't slammed with fillers. You can get gluten free versions as well.

What about Hemp? Though this has been pulled off shelves from time to time, the health effects of the hemp seed are obvious. Full of amino acids, fiber, protein, and omega-3s, it's a great pick. In addition, there are no pesticides, yeast or sweeteners.

So, the next time you are in the store, branch out. Look for breads with flax or pumpkin seeds, high fiber, more protein and less ingredients. Or, if you really want to branch out, substitute a healthier grain entirely and notice the difference.

Want to make your own? Try this great, easy recipe:

Pumpkin Oat Bread

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup organic sugar (for those of you who use sugar substitutes, you can use splenda for baking)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup egg whites or egg substitute
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie mix)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a medium sized loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, oats, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg). Add applesauce, egg whites, and pumpkin and mix until just combined. Pour into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Have A Picnic!

The weather is cooling off, and what better way to celebrate than having a picnic? Don't fret if you don't have a basket - as long as you have glass containers and a cooler, you are set. Come up with a theme. Feeling French? Italian? Mexican? For us, we decided on easy Mediterranean cuisine.

First, decide on dishes that will be portable and easy to eat. Obviously, sandwiches and fruit are obvious choices (and if this is the easiest thing, then by all means, do it). But, sometimes it's fun to get a little creative and fancy, even if it's in your own backyard.

For our picnic, we decided to make dishes that have a lot of the same ingredients, so our shopping trip can be simplified (see master grocery list at end). We are making the following:

Parsley Tabbouleh
Chopped Greek Salad With Chicken
Baked Falafel
Hummus and Pita

Parsley Tabbouleh

1 cup water
1/2 cup bulgar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Combine water and bulgur in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender (about 20 minutes or according to directions). After it is ready, transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.

Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and  scallions to the bulgur. Add the dressing and toss. You can serve at room temperature or chill for an hour before serving.

Greek Salad With Chicken

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. chopped fresh dill (or oregano)
1 tsp. garlic powder
6 cups chopped romaine
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (or buy a rotisserie chicken and save some time)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup olives (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or avocado if you don't want the cheese)

Whisk vinegar, oil, dill and garlic powder in a large bowl. Add lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta. Toss to coat.

Baked Falafel

1 19 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and washed
1 small onion, finally chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs.. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbs. wheat gluten
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. olive oil

Drizzle oil evenly in shallow baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is preheating, mash chickpeas in food processor or with hands. Add onions and garlic and blend together. Add remaining ingredients. (It should be a nice, thick paste.) Shape into ping pong sized balls and place in preheated baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Hummus and Pita
(If you want to save time, just purchase hummus at the store)

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

Combine everything in blender and process until smooth. If you need more liquid, add more yogurt. Chill.

You can layer your pita by stuffing some of the salad, hummus and falafel with a side of tabbouleh. Don't forget a blanket, plastic utensils, napkins, bottled water and some wine!!

Master Grocery List:

1 bottle extra-virgin olive oil
1 bottle red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
lemon juice
3 cups flat-leaf parsley
fresh dill
fresh mint
4 tomatoes, diced
1 red onion
2 cucumbers
4 scallions
avocado (optional)
feta cheese
garlic powder
wheat gluten
baking powder
2 19 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and washed
plain greek yogurt

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Week's Worth of Snacks

Snacking is a tricky subject. In Europe, they stick to 3 meals per day, all composed of wine, cheese, meat, bread and decadent desserts. They do not snack and yet they manage to stay slim. Their food is also grown to be eaten and not shipped, and they take pleasure in their meals, spreading afternoon and evening meals over hours with friends and family.

Here, we eat on the run, in our cars, stopping for fast food, eating while standing up or hurrying between meetings. We need to learn to love our food again, to eat because it's good for us, because we enjoy it, because we want to pay attention to our health.

One of our biggest downfalls is timing. People will "forget" to eat or go six or seven hours between meals. This wreaks havoc on the body and sets us up for failure later in the day. It's incredibly important to eat every 3.5 hours - to keep the blood sugar stabilized and to give the body the fuel that it needs. When we go long hours without food, our bodies kick into fat storage mode (a mechanism we can thank our ancestors for; also a mechanism that we, as a population don't need, because we are rarely without food). Having a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack should do the trick. These snacks should be relatively low in calories, high in fiber, protein and good, complex carbs. When you think of "snacks," try to steer clear from packaged, processed food. Healthy snacks should be mostly comprised of whole foods. Try and make whole foods the staples of your diets and snack.

Figure out what you crave and when. Do you crave salty or crunchy in the morning and sweet in the afternoon? Look for lower fat popcorn and crunchy veggies, and fruits and dark chocolate to quell a sweet tooth. Have suggestions or favorite snacks? Send them our way!

Mid-morning: 1/4 cup hummus, carrot sticks
Mid-afternoon: tuna and avocado with 1% cottage cheese

Mid-morning: 1 granny smith apple, 1 handful roasted and unsalted almonds (around 12)
Mid-afternoon: 1 protein bar (Luna or Mojo)

Mid-morning: grapefruit, string cheese
Mid-afternoon: egg white and spinach muffins (baked in a muffin tin - see post about egg poppers)

Mid-morning: protein shake made with whey, water, ice, banana (greek yogurt optional)
Mid-afternoon: 1 chicken breast, 1 oz. cashews

Mid-morning: 1 banana rolled in 1 tbs. frozen dark chocolate chips
Mid-afternoon: healthy trail mix (composed of unsalted nuts, granola, dark chocolate, dried fruit)

Mid-morning: 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 orange
Mid-afternoon: 1 carton greek yogurt topped with chopped walnuts and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Mid-morning: 1 mini bag smart pop popcorn
Mid-afternoon: chocolate shake (mix 1 scoop whey, organic chocolate milk, ice and a banana in blender)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's For Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner: Sweet Potato Pancakes

I was flipping through Real Simple and stumbled upon a wonderful article about sweet potatoes. Since I am one of sweet potatoes' biggest fans, I was happy to see a magazine actually writing about them. And then one of my favorite dishes appeared - sweet potato pancakes. I love anything with the word pancake in it (as seen by my previous posts) and instantly remembered how much I love these.

Though you can make them with flour, eggs, oatmeal, etc., this recipe is a healthier version with no flour or extra starch - a pancake made almost entirely from the sweet potato itself. When you purchase sweet potatoes, look for smooth, unblemished potatoes (the darker the color, the more antioxidants). They are a great source of A and B vitamins, potassium and iron. These pancakes are a bit more savory, so top with yogurt, fruit, pecans, or eggs, or eat with salmon for a tasty lunch or dinner option.

Sweet Potato Pancakes


1 pound sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sage (optional)
3 tbs. corn starch (you can also use self-rising flour)

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until they are tender. Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mash until nearly smooth. Add the remaining ingredients. Heat a large skillet with cooking spray or a little olive oil. With your hands, form the batter into small discs. Cook pancakes 2 to 3 minutes per side, until a light brown. Blot with paper towels before serving. Top with chives.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Week's Worth of Lunches

Sometimes, lunch is tricky. Meetings, skipped meals, heavy lunches at fancy restaurants (or crappy lunches at cheap restaurants) can affect your overall bottom line when it comes to health. While it's okay to be a bit more lenient during the day in terms of what you're eating - as you are likely to burn it off before the end of the day - but let's try this. For one week, bring your lunch to work. If you like to get out of the office for lunch, take a walk instead. Or go to a park and eat it. But, all of these lunches take just a few minutes of prep. All of these lunches can be eaten cold. If you don't have a refrigerator at work, invest in a small cooler.


1 package lean ground turkey
2 ears corn
red bell pepper

You can use any variety of veggie. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and scramble turkey until done. Add washed and chopped veggies on top (saving the tomatoes for last) and cover skillet to let veggies steam on medium heat. Cook until veggies are crisp, let the meal cool and then put it in a container and pop in the fridge. (Meal can be eaten hot or cold at work and leftovers can be thrown into an omelet the next day.) If you are craving carbs, add 1/2 cup of brown rice to the meal and rinsed black beans.


1 can albacore tuna
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tbs. greek yogurt
paprika, garlic powder, cayenee
1/2 cup pineapple
1 slice ezekial toast (optional)

In a bowl, combine tuna, avocado, yogurt and spices and mix until smooth. Spread on a piece of ezekial bread and eat with 1/2 cup pineapple. Watching carbs? Cut the bread and serve with 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese instead.


2 tbs. natural peanut butter
1 sliced banana
1 tsp. agave nectar
2 slices ezekial bread
1 sliced granny smith apple

On two slices bread (toasted or plain), spread peanut butter and layer with sliced banana. Add thin slices of granny smith apple on top. Drizzle with agave and enjoy. Still hungry? Add some organic chocolate milk or yogurt as a side.


1/2 cup baby spinach
shredded rotisserie chicken
chopped pecans
red onion
2 tbs. vegenaise or greek yogurt
paprika, curry powder

Dice or shred chicken and mix all ingredients together until smooth. Pop in a container over baby spinach and bring to work.


1 tortilla or pita
3 tbs. hummus
shredded chicken (optional)

Take one tortilla or pita and spread with hummus and then stuff with veggies. Take leftover rotisserie chicken and place inside wrap.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Week's Worth of Delicious Protein Shakes

Sometimes, people get the wrong idea about protein shakes. They assume they are only for bodybuilders, or they taste like chalk. Both assumptions are wrong. Sure, bodybuilders can use them as an extra dose of protein and some brands DO taste rather chalky, but if you do your homework (or see our former post on whey protein powders), you can find a whey protein powder that's right for you.

Though our favorite is Optimum Nutrition's Hydrowhey in chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, you can use any version of whey (or soy) protein powder in these recipes. Feel free to incorporate these shakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as nutritious pre and post workout snacks. All recipes are made for one person, so if you want to make enough for two people, use 2 scoops whey protein and increase ice (to 8 or 9 ice cubes) and add a bit more water or milk.


2 tbs. natural peanut butter
1 square dark chocolate or 1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 banana
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla (or chocolate) whey protein
5 ice cubes
1/2 cup water (or milk)

In a blender, combine ice, water (or milk) and banana. Blend, and then gradually add yogurt, whey, 2 tbs. natural peanut butter, chocolate and cinnamon. Blend until well combined.


3-4 strawberries
1/3 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 scoop strawberry whey (vanilla is fine too)
1/2 banana
5 ice cubes
1/3 c. water

In a blender, combine ice, water, banana, strawberries and blend. Gradually add cinnamon, nutmeg, oatmeal, and whey.


1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/2 avocado
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
5 ice cubes
1 cup almond milk (soy or skim is acceptable as well)

Blend milk and spinach first, then add ice, avocado and protein powder.


1/2 cup can pure pumpkin
1 banana
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
5 ice cubes
1/3 c. water (or milk)

In a blender, combine ice, water (or milk) and banana. Blend, and then gradually add pumpkin, cinnamon, yogurt, and whey.


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
5 ice cubes
2 sprigs fresh mint (or a dash of peppermint extract)

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Week's Worth of Salads

It's summer, and salads are an easy option to dress up with meat, seeds, healthy fats, beans, fruit, etc.  They make great sides to larger dinners, or can be used as the main ingredient. Eating a salad a day can up your amount of raw vegetables, fiber, protein and overall vitamins and minerals. But, sometimes it's hard to keep salads from getting boring. Try versions of these five salads, and mix it up day by day!

Sunday - Romaine Salad

1 head romaine
1 roma tomato
1/2 red bell pepper
1/3 cup broccoli
2 stalks celery
2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 avocado
1 large scoop 1% cottage cheese
1 pound whitefish
1 cup brown rice (or other healthy grain)

Purchase a pound of whitefish (or any fish) and bake, grill or saute. Cook a cup of brown rice, quinoa or barley to accompany it.

Chop and rinse fresh romaine. Add 1 chopped roma tomato, red bell pepper, broccoli, celery, carrots, blueberries, slivered almonds and sliced avocado.

Put the salad down first, add a hot scoop of rice directly on the greens and then place the cooked fish on top. Drizzle your own salad dressing (or a lower sodium version of balsamic vinaigrette), add a dollop of cottage cheese and enjoy!

Monday - Spinach Salad

1 package fresh baby spinach
1 small red onion
1 package white button mushrooms
1 package turkey bacon
3-4 eggs

In a pot, hardboil 3-4 eggs. Once they are done, turn off the heat and let them sit in water while you prepare the other ingredients. In a frying pan, cook your turkey bacon (with a little olive oil) until they are crispy but still chewy. Set aside (and save 3 tbs. of the liquid for dressing). Cut a red onion in half, cut off the top of each half and peel off the skin. Store one half and cut the other half into thin strips. If you like the onions raw (which I do), you can just toss them directly on the salad. If you want to carmelize them, pop them into a frying pan with a dollop of oil and cook them until they are nice and browned. You can do the same thing with the mushrooms. Toss them in raw or cook the mushrooms for a bit more flavor. Plop them into the same pan as the onions and cook them on low until nice and brown.

Meanwhile, pour the water out of the pot with the eggs and cover them in ice to cool them down. Peel and slice thinly, getting rid of some of the yolk, so you are serving mostly egg whites. Chop the bacon, and set everything aside.

Warm Bacon Salad Dressing (optional)

If you want to make your own dressing, here's a quick, healthy retake on a popular classic.

3 tbs. bacon liquid
2 tsp. organic sugar
4 tbs. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

In a small pan, pour in the bacon liquid from earlier. Add a couple teaspoons of organic sugar and whisk together. Add 4 tbs. red wine or apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard and whisk all together. Let warm on low heat while you get the salad together.

Time to put it all together! Place your baby spinach on a plate or bowl and top with bacons, onions and mushrooms. Pour the dressing on top. Gently toss and then add the eggs!

Tuesday - Arugula Salad

1 package arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. rice vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 large avocado
2 cooked chicken breasts (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except avocado and chicken and toss. Divide salad onto plate and top with sliced avocado and chopped chicken.

Wednesday - Mixed Greens Salad

1 package mixed greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sliced pineapple
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 sliced granny smith apple
2 fillets salmon (optional)
1 tbs. raspberry vinaigrette
1 tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. olive oil

If you are adding salmon to this dish, prepare either on stove top or in oven. In a small skillet, add walnut halves and sliced pineapple, cooking over medium heat. Once warm, remove from heat. Add mixed greens, cranberries and apple and toss with vinaigrette, vinegar and oil. Spread on a plate or bowl, add warm walnuts, pineapple and place fish directly on top.

Thursday - Butter Lettuce Salad

1 head of butter lettuce
1 avocado, diced
2 oranges, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup pre-roasted pistachios
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Combine olive oil, lemon juice and pepper into a bowl and whisk. Tear the lettuces into bite size pieces and toss with the dressing. Place on a dish and add avocado, oranges and pistachios.

Friday - Radicchio Salad

1 medium shallot
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1/3 c. parmesan
2 tbs. grapeseed oil
2 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tbs. dried oregano
1 medium head escarole, trimmed and cut into 1 inche pieces
1/2 small head radicchio
chopped tomatoes, avocado, green onions

Combine the shallot, garlic, yogurt and 1/3 cup of parmesan, oil, lime juice and oregano in blender. Pulse until well combined. Wash the lettuce and put in a large bowl. Toss dressing with lettuce, add additional toppings and serve!

So, as you can see, there are endless options when it comes to salads. Try and think about using fresh ingredients everyday, or using the extra veggies in your fridge to throw raw onto a salad. Leftover veggies from the night before go great as well, slightly warmed, on top of cool lettuce. Serve with lean proteins. Think outside of the box and start using your fresh produce. Chop up fruit and throw on top of a salad. If you're eating a burger and some asparagus, add a small side salad.

On Sundays, make two or three big salads and divide into individual containers to eat over the next few days. They are filling, often low-calorie (if you are careful with the cheese and dressings) and will add a great dose of fiber to your daily diet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Best Pre And Post Workout Food!

"What should I eat before I workout? What about after? Does it matter when I eat?" The answers to all of these questions hold many different benefits (or drawbacks) to your overall health. What you eat before and after you exercise should be some of your most important meals of the day.

Morning Cardio (Pre)
If you are waking up to do a spin class, go for a run or engage in something more cardio based, you can get away with a piece of fruit, like a banana. It is full of simple sugars, which you will burn first, a tiny bit of fat, good carbs and a little bit of protein. A little coconut water can also do the trick, or a piece of dry toast and some melon. But what if you just get up and go? Still put something in the tank. You need to build in a little bit of time (but choose something like a simple piece of fruit that is easy to digest) so that you can put something in your body. When you sleep, your body fasts. If you wake up and immediately ask it to perform without any fuel, it will begin to use the good stuff - like muscle - and hold onto the bad stuff - like fat.

Morning Lift (Pre)
If you are lifting weights, you need to fuel up a bit more. A good mix of carbs, protein and a little fat should get you through the workout. If you are a serious lifter, you are fine to make a whey protein shake, with a banana and a little bit of natural peanut butter. A piece of Ezekial toast or a vegan waffle with a little agave nectar and a thin spread of almond butter will also do the trick. Though fat is the last thing you burn, if your workout is intense enough, it will give you the extra fuel you need to get through it.

Afternoon or Night Workout (Pre)
If you workout in the afternoon, you have a few more options. A piece of fruit with some nuts, a protein shake, a protein bar, some greek yogurt with granola, egg white muffins, half an English muffin... the list goes on. Think about something that you will be able to digest easily, but has good carboyhdrates to get you through your workout. Good carbs = energy.

Post Workout Morning
A bowl of oatmeal, some egg whites or a protein shake are all great options. A good mix of carbs, protein and a little fat will do the trick. Also be sure to rehydrate and replenish with electrolytes if you are a heavy sweater. Chocolate milk is also a great recovery drink, much better than Gatorade or other sugary drinks.

Post Workout Night
Down a whey protein shake (in a shaker bottle with water) the moment you leave the gym. This will immediately begin the replenishing process, supplying the necessary vitamins and minerals to your muscles. Within an hour, have a sensible dinner of lean protein, veggies and a complex carb, like wild or brown rice, sweet potatoes or whole wheat pasta.

A few things to remember:

1. You might want to skip the dairy in your pre-workout meal. Milk often feels sour in the stomach when you exercise. While a bowl of cereal might seem like an easy option, sometimes it doesn't work.

2. Avoid really acidic juices before your workout and processed, sugary drinks after.

3. Don't go overboard on the fat you ingest before a workout, as it's the last thing you burn off.

4. Pay attention to portion size. Eat according to your activity level. There's a large difference between the needs of a cyclist going 50 miles versus someone who is just going to the gym and lifting or doing cardio for 45 minutes. Supply yourself with enough calories to fuel your body, but don't go overboard.

5. Eat 40 minutes to 2 hours before you workout and within 1 hour after you workout. Always eat before and after.

Got questions? Send them our way!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Healthy Frozen Dinners?

Let's face it. Sometimes, despite all of our good intentions, we don't feel like cooking and we don't want to go out. We just need something quick and easy. That "quick and easy" in many cases is a frozen dinner. The good news is frozen dinners have come a long way from the slimy cubes of salisbury steak, gritty mashed potatoes and carrots. There are a few rules when looking for "TV" dinners.

1. Look for healthier, organic brands such as Kashi, Healthy Choice, Amy's, Smart Ones and Lean Cuisine.
2. Look at the ingredient list. You want whole, natural ingredients whenever possible and the lowest amount of preservatives.
3. Look for lower sodium (as this is the culprit of almost all frozen dinners). If it has over 500mg of salt per serving, steer clear!
4. Make sure the dinner has enough calories so you won't become ravenous. If a dinner has 200 calories, it's probably not enough. Make sure it has at least 350 calories, to ensure a satisfying meal.
5. Don't serve from plastic container. Empty food on a plate, and make it seem like a fresh meal.
6. Pair the frozen dinner with a fresh salad or soup. Adding some whole foods will go a long way in providing satiety and making the dinner a bit more enjoyable.

So, the next time you are in the frozen food section, pay attention to what they have. Look for lean meats and veggies, or simple pasta dishes. Make a small salad and voila! An easy, healthy dinner that redefines the classic frozen dinner.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oatmeal Pizza

Perusing the latest Oxygen magazine, I stopped on an article entitled "Oats for Pizza?" A beautiful oat crust stared back at me, loaded with veggies and cheese. Could this actually taste... good? The answer? Absolutely. Of course, it doesn't taste like the delectable deep dish pizzas sprinkled around Chicago, but it has a satisfying crunch that is more filling than pizza dough. You can dress it up anyway you like and it's done in just 20 minutes. It's a healthy treat the whole family can enjoy!

Oatmeal Pizza

1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground flaxseed
2 oz extra-lean ground turkey
1 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
1/4 cup 1% cottage cheese
2 tbsp red onion, chopped
2 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, mix together first 4 ingredients. Flatten this oatmeal crust into a disc shape on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, flip over and bake for another 5.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spread out on top of the oatmeal cake. Bake until cheese melts. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan (optional) when it comes out of the oven.

With 36 grams of protein, 4 mg iron and only 5 grams of fat in the entire serving, this pizza also packs a nutritional punch. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Myths About Fruit

There's no doubt that fruit is a super food. Full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, these wonderful, fresh foods are important for any diet. So, how did there come to be so many myths surrounding fruit? Which fruits are "good" to eat, which have too much sugar, which are higher on the glycemic index, which have healing properties, which should be combined with protein or healthy fats, which should be eaten before, during or after a meal, when should you cut back on fruit... the list goes on and on. It's about as confusing as water: ice cold water helps "up" your metabolism according to some, while others say room temperature water is best for getting the digestive system going. And the craziest I've heard? That ice cold water can solidify fats in your system and actually cause cancer! Who knows what to believe?

After much research, I have found the following: fruits are nutritionally dense, low calorie foods that pack a vitamin punch. They can help curb cravings and are often more filling than processed snacks. And while most fruits are great, there ARE healthier fruits than others, just as there are healthier veggies than others (for instance, eating asparagus and broccoli are better than carrots and peas).


1. Try to incorporate at least 3 fruits per day (and at least 5 veggies). If you can, make sure your produce is ORGANIC and free of pesticides. You may pay more, but you are not ingesting harmful chemicals. Buy a natural fruit and veggie spray and douse your produce before ingesting.

2. Berries top the list, in terms of packing an antioxidant punch. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, mostly any berries will do. Throw a handful on top of your oatmeal in the morning.

3. Don't forget about lemons and limes. Low in sugar and full of detox powers, squeeze some lemon or lime in your tea or water for an extra health boost and to get the digestive system moving.

4. Eat fruits, like everything, in moderation. While they are super foods, they do contain sugar. And though the sugar is natural and not what you would find in cookies, an excess of anything will be stored as fat. Realize, however, fruit is often a great pre-workout food, as sugar is the first thing you burn off in exercise.

5. Fruit juices are not the same as fresh fruits. The same goes for dried fruits. Though they aren't "bad" by any means, they are packed with more sugar. You are better off picking fresh.




Most dried fruits

One of the most interesting articles I've ever read (produced by Dr. Herbert Shelton) talked about WHEN to eat fruits. I've always fallen into the camp of eating them either as a snack with nuts (which is acceptable, according to this article) or after a meal to stave off sweet cravings. According to research, fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach ONLY, as it will detoxify the system, supplying energy and weight loss.

This research states that when you eat fruits after (or with) other foods, the entire meal rots and ferments in your system, turning to acid the minute the fruit comes into contact with food in the stomach. Since fruits are made to go directly through the system, when you eat an apple with a sandwich, the food essentially begins to spoil because the fruit mixes with the bread and meat. This is the purported cause of burping or bloating when eating fruits. In addition, eating fruits on their own can supposedly prevent graying hair, balding, nervous outbursts and dark under eye circles.

So, can it be that simple? Eat fruits BEFORE meals or on an empty stomach and you will have the keys to longevity? I am not sure about that, but I have noticed that when I eat fruits on an empty stomach, there is no bloating, and I feel more energetic. Psychosomatic? Perhaps, but it certainly can't hurt to try. Regardless, the next time you are shopping, stock up on colorful produce and aim for at least 3 servings per day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What's For Breakfast: Egg-White French Toast!

The best french toast I've ever had was not healthy and it wasn't made with egg whites. It was croissant french toast, doused in powdered sugar. The batter literally melted in your mouth, bringing a crisp outer layer with your first bite to the absolute warm, buttery perfection that awaited in the center. Needless to say, that was a rare but fantastic indulgence.

However, the first time I found egg-white french toast at a restaurant, I was ecstatic. Made with big, thick slices of greek bread, egg whites and cooking spray instead of oil or butter, it was surprisingly delicious.

Play around with this recipe. Don't want entirely egg white french toast? Use one or two whole eggs and the rest egg whites. Choose a multi-grain bread or brioche for a thick, indulgent slice. Add cinnamon or nutmeg for spice and instead of syrup, use honey or agave nectar. Skip the powdered sugar.

Egg-White French Toast


1/2 cup milk (lowfat, skim, whole or soy; though milk is traditionally used, you can also make french toast with just egg whites)
8 slices bread (play with different types of bread: french, greek, multigrain, ezekial, honey wheat, etc.)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large bowl, beat the egg whites. Add milk, cinnamon and vanilla to egg whites and continue to beat. Dip the bread into the batter, until coated on both sides. Place bread in greased (with oil or cooking spray - skip the butter) and heated skillet. Let brown on each side. Turn often.  

Serve with fresh berries, or slather with natural peanut butter and sliced bananas for a delicious start to your day! 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Healthy Movie Theater Snacks

It's no surprise that movie theaters are devoid of healthy snacks. Even those soft pretzels - which might seem like a safe choice - pack almost 500 calories and over 2008 milligrams of salt! There's something about being in a darkened theater that seems to not only inflate one's appetite but makes all conscience for healthy eating go right out the window. But, there are options. All it requires is a big handbag to stash your own snacks (or some kind of backpack if you're a guy), as some theaters are strict on their no outside food or drink policy.

If you like POPCORN, try: NEWMAN'S OWN ORGANIC MICROWAVE POPCORN (unsalted). Look for store bought brands with the most natural ingredients and pop before you head out to the movie. You might also like STACY'S PITA CHIPS for that slight buttery flavor and constant crunch. Steer clear of the movie theater varieties, as a large buttered popcorn packs a whopping 1640 calories and 126 grams of fat. The medium is not much better with 900 calories and 50 grams of fat!

If you like RAISINETS, try: ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED RAISINS. Made with fresh raisins and organic dark chocolate, these are a much healthier pick than the movie theater counterparts.

If you like WHOPPERS or GOOBERS, try: ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL BALLS. Sold in most grocery stores in the organic section, these are a healthier option to the nutritionally devoid candy and taste even better than the movie theater varieties.

If you like NACHOS, try: FETA CHEESE AND KASHI TLC CRACKERS. Making a healthy snack of cheese and crackers can often quell the craving for stale chips and gooey movie theater cheese. Soft feta is made from ewe's and goat's milk, so if you are lactose-intolerant, it is easier on the system.

You get the idea. Make the concession stand off limits and bring in an array of items: crunchy veggies and healthy dip, grapes, nuts, granola bars, sliced apples and peanut butter. The list goes on and on. Often, we like snacks we can keep dipping our hands into, so foods like grapes or nuts are a good option. Also, chewing some sugar free gum can do the trick, since you are consistently chewing. Don't forget to pack bottled water. Not only will you save money, but you will save your waistline!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What's For Dinner: Healthy Turkey Pasta!

I love pasta. Thick mounds of noodles, rich, creamy sauces, crispy bread dipped in olive oil and garlic. Endless glasses of red wine... what's not to love? Traveling in Italy gave new meaning to what I know as Italian food. When I had my first Italian pizza, topped with eggplant and mounds of fresh cheese, I knew that American interpretations would never taste the same.

But, through much trial and error, I have created a sauce that is healthy, light and tastes wonderful (and reminds me of my time in Italy). Made with all organic ingredients, lean, ground turkey instead of beef, organic pasta and just a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, this dish has a lighter quality where guilt does not follow in the morning.


1 medium can low-sodium tomato paste
1 jar organic tomato and basil sauce
1 roma tomato
1 package fresh basil
1 package spinach
dried onions
dried garlic
olive oil
1 bottle red wine
1 package organic linguine
1 package 93/7 lean ground turkey

In a large saucepan, pour 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/3 cup water, dried onions and garlic. Let brown and then add package of turkey, seasoning as you like (oregano, paprika, cayenne, etc.). Cook until browned and then add can of tomato paste, mixing with the meat. Pour 1/3 cup more water, a little red wine, and cover, cooking for 5 minutes. Add in 1/2 to full jar of pasta sauce and cook on low to medium heat.

Boil water in separate pan and add pasta. While pasta is cooking, add spinach, 1 chopped tomato and basil to the sauce, cooking on low heat. Add a dash of parmesan, and once pasta is cooked, instead of draining the noodles into a strainer, collect a single scoop of pasta straight from the water and drop into sauce pan, mixing pasta and allowing water from the pasta to absorb with the sauce. Heap serving onto bowl or plate and repeat for other servings.

As an optional side, serve a fresh french baguette with a bowl of olive oil, chopped fresh garlic and parmesan for dipping. Want to skip the bread? Make a healthy salad instead.

Buon appetito!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Which Milk To Drink?

Whole milk, skim milk, soy milk, rice milk... the list goes on and on. There are many choices when it comes to getting your daily dose of liquid calcium. So, which type of milk is right for you and will give you the biggest dose of vitamins and minerals?

Raw milk: Raw milk comes straight from the cow, and was used for an array of medicinal purposes in the early 20th century. Raw milk contains 20 amino acids, composed of casein and whey protein. Lactose is the primary carb in cow's milk. However, most of the fat in raw milk is saturated fat (which some believe can actually stave off certain diseases). Raw milk contains numerous vitamins, minerals, enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Raw milk isn't legal in all areas, so do some research and see if this might be a right fit for you.

Whole milk: Though high in fat, many people prefer real dairy products as compared to the lower fat versions. Many sources believe you can't digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat. Whole milk is naturally full of vitamins A and D (two vitamins that have to be pumped back in to the lower fat counterparts). A more "natural" food, whole milk undergoes less processing than its lower fat counterparts.

Skim milk: For those who are fat conscious, this would be the obvious choice, though there have been mixed reviews about the nutritional value of skim milk. Skim milk is devoid of natural sources of vitamin A and D. Dried concentrated milk protein is added to skim milk to give it bulk (as it would be too watery once the fat is removed). Although pasteurization is deemed necessary for health safety, heating milk destroys the live enzymes and destroys the milk protein structure. So, while it seems like the obvious healthy choice, it's actually the least whole, natural product and has even been linked to certain diseases, such as heart disease (due to the extreme heating process).

Soy milk: For those who can't process dairy, soy is a good alternative. Soy milk is more natural than skim, in that it is made straight from the soybean. It contains amino acids, is low in saturated fat and is cholesterol free. Look for the "plain" flavor for lower sugar and substitute for dairy to see how your body reacts.

Rice milk: Rice milk is a grain milk made from brown rice. Compared to cow's milk, rice milk is higher in carbohydrates, lower in protein and calcium and has no cholesterol or lactose. Many brands are fortified with vitamins, including calcium, vitamin B12 and iron. A nice alternative to soy, if you are looking for something different.

Almond milk: Made from ground almonds, this milk contains no cholesterol or lactose. It can replace cow's milk in most recipes and is completely vegan. You can even make your own by combining ground almonds and water in a blender. Sometimes, vanilla or sweeteners are added. This is a good bet for people with milk allergies.

Cashew milk: Cashew milk, made from cashews and water, is high in B vitamins, magnesium and copper. Compared to other nuts, cashews are lower in fat. The majority of the monounsaturated fats found in cashews is oleic acid, a heart healthy fat found in olive oil. A good alternative to soy, rice and almond milk (and one of the tastiest).

Lactose free milk: For those who have an intolerance to lactose (and it is reported that a vast majority of the population cannot digest lactose), this is a safer option. Almost identical to milk, it is infused with a lactase enzyme that breaks the lactose down for you. Always read labels of other products if you are lactose intolerant, especially in in processed foods. Look for ingredients such as milk, lactose, whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids, or non-fat dry milk powder.

Goat milk: Many people prefer goat's milk to cow's milk as it is more easily digestible and less allergenic. Though slightly higher in fat, the protein is more easily digestible and contains lower levels of lactose. It also contains around 13% more calcium, 25% more vitamin B6, 47% more vitamin A and 134% more potassium.

Whatever brand you choose, really look at the ingredients and do your research. See what your body likes best, and don't be afraid to try new products!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the world's favorite foods. While eating a decadent dessert or buying a bar of chocolate at the market is enjoyable, there's nothing like strolling through the streets of Europe, dipping into shops designed entirely around chocolate. The senses are awakened. The mouth waters. The eyes widen. Display cases drip with the possibilities of dark, light, white, caramel, or fudge. Chocolate fountains pool the creamy concoction into basins, swirling thickly.

I had just this sort of experience when I stepped into a little shop in Switzerland and took my first creamy bite of a small, nameless morsel. I moaned - loudly - and the shopkeeper smiled at me and suggested I try another. I left with my white waxy bag full of small, perfect chocolates, just beginning to melt as my fingers plucked at them. I wandered the cobblestone streets, breathing in the September air and wondered if there'd ever be a more perfect moment. Later, I grabbed bars of chocolate in a gas station to take back with me. Not surprisingly, they were better than any chocolate I've had here. Chocolate is not just a food; it is an experience to be shared and enjoyed, and surprisingly, it can be sneaked into your dishes throughout the day for an extra dose of antioxidants.

Since chocolate is made from plants, it offers some of the health benefits of dark vegetables. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent aging, help lower blood pressure and can even balance certain hormones in the body. When picking chocolate, dark is best. Look for 65%-85% dark chocolate when baking or eating. Do you crave chocolate on an ongoing basis? A little goes a long way. Here are some clever ways to incorporate chocolate at every meal.

1. SPRINKLE COCOA INTO YOUR BREAKFAST FOODS - Purchase some organic cocoa powder and add it to your savory breakfast items. Blend it with your peanut butter and spread it on an English muffin, sprinkle some in your oatmeal or oatmeal pancakes for a sweet, indulgent start to your day.

2. DRINK CHOCOLATE MILK AFTER A WORKOUT - Chocolate milk is one of the most perfect post-workout foods. It has double the carbohydrate and protein content of milk or sports drinks, and is perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces lost fluids, and it also has calcium, sodium and sugar - additives that help recovering athletes hydrate and regain energy. Look for healthier, organic options at the grocery store.

3. CHOCOLATE IN CHILI - One of my favorite chili recipes has a secret ingredient: two squares of dark chocolate. The next time you are making homemade chili, add a few bars to bring out the spice and the sweetness in your chili dish.

4. MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE - The perfect antidote to a sweet craving after dinner, make a cup of this thick hot chocolate to stave off any sweet craving. Below are two recipes: traditional and a healthier version.

Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate

6 cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 ounces unsweetened Mexican Chocolatecoarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, chocolate and ground cinnamon. Heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the milk is very hot. (Don't let the milk come to a boil.)

Beat 2 eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir in one cup of the hot mixture into the eggs, then return this mixture to the saucepan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more over low heat, stirring. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat with a rotary beater until it is very frothy. Pour into mugs.

Organic Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 cup organic dark or semi-sweet chocolate (or use sweetened cocoa powder)
4 cups organic soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Heat milk on medium-low heat and add chocolate to warm milk and whisk. Add in the spices and serve! Add a dash of cayenne for a little kick.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cereal - Not Just For Kids

Who doesn't love a big bowl of cereal with ice cold milk as a nighttime snack? As a teenager, I would open about six different boxes, pour them all into one giant bowl and snack for hours. No milk. All sugar. I could finish a box in a single sitting, so now, I know better than to buy more than one box at a time. I have one bowl, and I make Alex eat the rest. If you enjoy cereal, buy it sporadically, as it is usually hard to stop with just one serving.

And contrary to popular belief, there are healthier options out there. Look for the natural brands in the grocery store aisle (think Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Health Valley, etc.) Let's face it: no cereal is on the top of the health food list, but if you're going to indulge, pick from one of the following options:

1. If you like HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS, try Cascadian Farms Dark Chocolate Almond Granola. This savory cereal has bits of dark chocolate, healthy almond and granola. Since granola packs a high carb punch, sprinkle it on ice cream or spoon it into yogurt. You get that same sweetness and crunch as Honey Bunches of Oats, but with better ingredients.

2. If you like HONEY NUT CHEERIOS, try Cascadian Farms Honey Nut O's. Almost identical in flavor, the nutrition info is quite different. Made with organic whole grain oats, honey and almonds, this cereal is a great alternative (especially for kids).

3. If you like SUGAR SMACKS, try Kashi Honey Puffs. Made from red wheat, brown rice and evaporated cane juice, this light cereal only has 120 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving, with 2 grams of fiber, lower sugar and 3 grams of protein. The slight sweetness kills any craving. Top with fresh berries and soy milk for a perfect nighttime treat.

4. If you like FRUIT LOOPS, try Health Valley Organic Extreme Fruit Rings. This healthier version of the popular kid cereal has only 7 grams of sugar per serving, as compared to Fruit Loops' 13 grams. Made with organic ingredients, this is a better bet for your children (or your own fruity craving).

5. If you like COCOA PUFFS, try Health Valley Organic Chocolate Blast-Ems. Made with whole grains, infused with vitamin C, 6 B vitamins and iron, it also has 30% less sugar than Cocoa Puffs and tastes much better than the original.

6. If you like CORN FLAKES, try Health Valley Organic Blue Corn Flakes. Naturally fat-free, very low in sodium and a good source of fiber, this is a good alternative when you are craving a flake cereal. The flakes stay crunchy in milk, and a sliced banana makes a perfect topping.

You get the picture. Do a little research, try a few brands and see what you like. Oftentimes, if you have a small bowl a few hours before bed, the carbs help you sleep better without doing too much damage to your waistline.