Monday, October 31, 2011

Meatless Monday

Happy Halloween! Going meatless doesn't have to be scary. In fact, it can be a great way to add more flavor to your favorite dishes by incorporating in vegetables. Replace meat with other sources of protein such as beans, cheese, eggs, or vegetarian meat substitutes and decrease the saturated fat content too! Just be sure to buy reduced fat cheeses whenever possible. Here are few other benefits about going meatless:
  • According to the World Health Organization, people who avoid red meat are less likely to develop various types of cancer (1)
  • Plant foods are naturally low in fat and rich in antioxidants and other anti-cancer compounds
  • People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weight and body mass index (2)

So branch out tonight and reap the benefits of a vegetarian dinner by trying this meatless casarolle. You might be frightened to find you don't even miss the meat!

Spooky Baked Eyeball Casarolle

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) Marinara Pasta sauce
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 7 cups whole wheat bow tie-shaped pasta , cooked and drained
  • 1 package (8 ounces) part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp. sliced pitted ripe olives
  • Spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch shallow baking dish with the cooking spray.
  • Mix 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and pasta in the prepared dish. Spread the remaining sauce over the pasta mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and cover the dish with foil.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Cut mozzarella cheese crosswise into thirds. Cut each third in 6 wedges, for triangle-shaped eyes. Arrange the cheese wedges randomly over the pasta mixture. Place a sliced olive on each cheese wedges. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 402, Fat 14 g, Carbohydrate 46 g, Protein 25 g, Fiber 8 g

1) Cancer facts- meat consumption and cancer risk. The Cancer Project.
2) Sinha, R. Cross, A. Graubard, B., Leitzmann, M. & Schatzkin, A. (2009). Meat intake and mortality A prospective study of over half a million people. Archive of Internal Medicine. 169(6). 562-571.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fitness Friday

Halloween starts the beginning of the Holiday season. Next up is Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Years.  This time of year lends to indulgence many tasty treats that we don't normally have all the time, which is why it's not surprising that many people gain weight over the Holidays. 

Instead if turning a blind eye to the statistics, why not amp up your workout routine to help off set some of those extra calories? Running is one of the fastest ways to burn calories-  fact: running 1 mile= about 100 calories expended.  If you've never been a runner before, sign up for a 5K with a friend.  Signing up for a race with the accountability and encouragement of a friend will help you to stick to your plan. 

Here is an easy beginner 5K training plan.  If you've never run before, be sure to take advantage of your rest days as your body will need time to adapt to training. 

Training for your first 5-K

Rest or run/walk
1.5 m run
Rest or run/walk
1.5 m run
1.5 m run
30- 60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
1.75 m run
Rest or run/walk
1.5 m run
1.75 m run
35-60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
2 mi run
Rest or run/walk
1.5 m run
2 MI run
40-60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
2.25 m run
Rest or run/walk
1.5 m run
2.25 m run
45-60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
2.5 m run
Rest or run/walk
2 m run
2.5 m run
50-60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
2.75 m run
Rest or run/walk
2 m run
2.75 m run
55-60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
3 m run
Rest or run/walk
2 m run
3 m run
60 min walk
Rest or run/walk
3 m run
Rest or run/walk
2 m run
5-K Race

  • To find out about 5K races in your area visit Runner's World and enter your zip code

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thank God It's Thursday

One day away from the weekend & my favorite night for happy hour- it's Thursday! Happy hour is a great time to get together with friends for drinks and food for a good price. Here are some tips on how to do it healthfully as well!

Tonight I'm headed north to Kona Grill at Northpark for cocktails and sushi.  Sushi can be a really healhty or a really not so healthy option, depending on what you order. So, here's the skinny on what to order next time you venture out to have sushi and saki.

Sushi Smarts
  • Avoid anything "tempora" which means it's deep fried & high in saturated fat
  • Look for rolls that do not contain mayo, aioli, or wasabi cream sauces, or order them without
  • Ask your waiter if rolls can be prepared with brown rice
  • A safe choice is always sashimi- which is raw fish without the rice
    • You can add a cup of Miso soup and a house salad to make it a meal, just remember to get dressing on the side!
Healthy Bites
One great thing about Kona Grill's happy hour is their "skinny" appetizers menu.  These are great lower calorie options to split with friends or enjoy as your own entree. Other healthy dinner options on the menu include:
  • Sushi Sampler- shrimp, tuna, salmon sushi and a california roll, served with a house salad
  • Simply Grilled Fish- *ask for double vegetables or brown rice instead of white rice
  • Tuna Roll- add a house salad w/dressing on the side*
  • Rainbow Roll- enjoy with a cup of Miso Soup
Skinny Sips
  • Swiss Kiss- light rum, kiwi, pineapple, and splenda simple syrup
  • Sukini Marg- silver tequila, lime, oraange, & splenda simple syurp
  • Slim Citrus Flip- skyy vodka, sugar free triple sec, Sauvignon Blanc,  fresh lemon & limes 

For more great low calorie options, check out the menu on their website

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wine Down Wednesday

  •  It's that time of the week again! Time to wind down with wine and a delicious shrimp pasta recipe.  Naturally low fat in and high in protein, shrimp pack a ton of nutritional value for very few calories.  They are also a great source of selenium, Vitamin D and B12. Vitamin B12 is key in reducing homocystiene, an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

    • While we're on the subject, it turns out that what you've heard right about wine being cardio-protective is true! In addition to the compounds found in alcohol that help protect against heart disease, wine has the added benefits of phenolic compounds which protect against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (1).


So tonight, enjoy this heart healthy recipe with a glass of wine! Suggested pairing?  Sauvignon Blanc- which pairs well with any seafood or shellfish dish.


Linguine with Shrimp and Sun-Dried Tomatoes



  • 1 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, without oil (about 20)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 5 ounces uncooked linguine
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled &deveined
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 small pitted black olives
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese



  • Combine sun-dried tomatoes and boiling water in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes, and drain well. Slice thinly, and set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; set aside.
  • Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add shrimp and green onions; sautée 5 minutes or until shrimp are done. Add sun-dried tomatoes, wine, and next 7 ingredients (wine through garlic); cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove shrimp mixture from heat, and add cooked pasta; toss well. Serve with cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups pasta mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese)

Nutritional Information

Calories: 376 , Fat: 11.9g , Saturated fat: 3.9g , Monounsaturated fat: 5.4g , Polyunsaturated fat: 1.6g Protein: 30g , Carbohydrate: 37.9g , Fiber: 1.8g

*Recipe taken from Cooking Light

1) Schaeffer, J. (2011). To good wine...and better health-the case for moderate wine consumption. Today's Dietitian, 13(8),32.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truth on Tuesday

     With so much false nutrition information out there, how do you know what to believe? While nutritional science is still evolving and studies propose new implications each day, results must be examined objectively. Each week, I will look at  popular nutrition trends and topics and attempt to debunk any common misconceptions.  Many "nutritionists" lack any type of credentials and often make claims about food and nutrition that are not rooted in science- so be careful to not always believe everything you read!

Is a Gluten-Free diet healthier?

In short- no, but let's examine both sides.  First of all, many people today claim to be "gluten intolerant", meaning they have trouble digesting  gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Some studies even suggest that 1/3 of the population may be gluten intolerant (1).

Gluten Sensitivity is where a person feels discomfort from eating gluten containing products which can result in inflammation of the small intestine. This can be determined through food sensitivities test, which will help to identify  the presence and intensity of various food allergies.

However, gluten sensitivity is different from Celiac disease-  an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that leads to symptoms such as sickness, diarrhea, bloated stomach and tiredness. These symptoms can be controlled by adopting a gluten-free diet.  Celiac is  typically diagnosed through antibody blood testing.

  • So, if you do not have celiac and aren't sure if you're gluten intolerant, should you go gluten free?  Probably not. While going on a gluten free diet could ideally help  you reduce the amount of processed foods while increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, it appears many people just turn gluten-free substitutes of breads, pastas, and other refined carbohydrates.
  • Unfortunately, many of the gluten-free substitutes are nutritionally inferior to white flour, which is enriched with iron and B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Also, Gluten-free breads and other packaged foods are often devoid of fiber and may have added fat and sugar to mask the gumminess and altered textural properties.
The take away:
  • If you think you have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, talk to your doctor before going on a gluten-free diet. Be aware that going gluten-free and then getting testing by your doctor can affect the results of the blood test used to diagnose celiac.
  • If you don't think you have gluten sensitivity, stick to 100% whole wheat and whole grain breads and pastas. Oh, and put down the gluten-free cupcake.

1) Hyman, M. Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You. The Huffington Post. 2 January 2010.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meatless Monday

Each Monday I will feature a meatless dinner recipe. Why meatless? Research shows that going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Here are some other benefits of going meatless:

  • Increase your vegetable intake
    • Taking the focus off meat as the star of your meal allows for incorporation of different vegetables to add flavour and increases the nutritional value of your dinner!
  • Decrease saturated fat intake
    • Animal protein is one of the main sources of  saturated fat in our diets.  Overconsumption of saturated fat increases you risk for various cardiovascular issues.
  • Reduce fossil fuel dependence
    • On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. compared to 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein (1).
Today, I listed an easy recipe for Veggie Quesadillas.  Enjoy this meal with 1/2 cup black beans for added protein & fiber. *

Number of Servings: 6


   1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

   1/2 cup chopped zucchini

   1/2 cup chopped yellow squash

   1/2 cup chopped red onion

   1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

   1 tablespoon olive oil

   Cooking spray

   6 (9 inch) whole wheat tortillas

   1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

In a large nonstick pan, cook red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and mushrooms in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, or until just tender. Remove vegetables from pan.

Coat the same pan with cooking spray, and place one tortilla in pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese evenly over tortilla, and layer 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture over the cheese.

Sprinkle another 1/8 cup of cheese on the vegetables, and top with a second tortilla. Cook until golden on both sides, for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove quesadilla from pan, and repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut each quesadilla into 8 triangles with a pizza cutter. Serve hot.

Nutritional Info
Calories: 273.6 , Total Fat: 6.9 g ,Cholesterol: 6.9 mg , Sodium: 764.2 mg ,Total Carbs: 35.1 g ,Dietary Fiber: 22.0 g , Protein: 16.8 g

*Adding 1/2 black beans adds 114 calories, 20 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein, 8 g fiber, & 0.5 g fat

1) Pimentel, D. & Pimentel, M. (2003). Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,. 78(3),660-663.        


Friday, October 21, 2011

Fitness Friday

Happy Friday!

One of my favorite things about fall in addition to the cooler weather is Football season.  In the spirit of America's real favorite pass time (sorry Rangers), I've listed a workout below that involves interval training that you can do outside at the football stadium nearest you. 

If you live in the DFW area, head over to the SMU soccer field- it's a great place to run sprints and bleachers!

Stadium Workout:
- Warm up, 2 laps light jogging
- 4 x 50 yard sprints (jog into this and pick up speed every 5 yards) rest 1 min.
- 5 x stadiums (walk every step and walk down, rest 45sec) * 30 steps
- 5 x stadiums (walk every other step and walk down, rest 45 sec)
- 10 x stadiums (run every step up and walk down, rest 45 sec)
- 10 x stadiums (run every other step up and walk down, rest 45 sec)
- Cool down, 2 laps light jog and stretch

  • Example of how workout should be interpreted:
    • 2 laps warm up
    • Sprint 50 yards, and rest for 1 min--Repeat 4 times.
    • 1 stadium set = 30 rows of bleachers or 30 steps
    • Walk up stadiums and walk down 
      • Rest for 45 seconds, repeat for a total of 5 times

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thank God It's Thursday

Haven't you heard? Thursday is the new Friday, and you know what that means. Time to get out of the house and indulge a bit. Here are a few tips to keep your weekend indulgences in check.

If you live in the DFW area, I will feature restaurants and bars in the uptown area so check out these places for a healthier happy hour!
  • This week I'm headed to Prime Bar. Prime Bar is newest "hot-spot" in uptown; mainly because, well, it's new. In true Dallas fashion, Prime Bar brings a trendy, dressed-up feel to your average neighborhood sports bar. There are plenty of plasma TVs to catch the game and delicious food and drinks to compliment. Atmosphere is hip, fun, and what I like to call "Dallas-casual" (which really means stilettos & button downs- tie optional).

But on to the more important part- what to order.

Skinny Sips
  • Champagne (Just $1 until 8:00 pm!)
  • Twilight- Ketel citroen, st. Germain, elderflower liqueur shaken with a champagne float
  • Cucumber Cooler- Effen cucumber, fresh citrus, soda
Healthy Bites
  • Strawberry Fresco Salad- add grilled Salmon, skip the queso, & get dressing on the side*
  • Vegetarian Hummus Wrap- ask for Balsamic glaze on the side*
  • Seared Tuna Tacos- skip the wasabi cream & enjoy w/salsa instead*

*These are suggestions to make these dishes a little lower in fat & calories. For more info on the menu, check out their website:

Cheers to the weekend!

Wine Down Wednesday

Cooking with Wine
While we all love an excuse to drink mid-week, Wine Down Wednesday will focus on cooking with wine in addition to highlighting the health benefites of wine. I'll also blog about food and wine pairings.

This week, I've posted a simple Chicken Marsala recipe from Cooking Light. Since the dish is made with an olive oil and wine sauce, it is also a good option to order when dining out at an Italian restaurant- just go easy on the pasta.  Olive oil is packed with mono and polyunsaturated fat as well as polyphenols, giving it a great nutritional profile. These polyphenols are the compounds found olive oil responsible for it's anti-inflammatory properties. As you are probably well aware, both mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered to be your heart healthy or "good fats." A diet high in monounsaturated fat can have favorable effects on total cholesterol, as well as the HDL:LDL ratio.
  • Remember to include heart healthy fats into your regular diet. You can start tonight by trying this new recipe. Pair with a spinach salad and oil-based dressing for a quick and easy dinner. Cheers!      
 Chicken Marsala
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup presliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound each piece to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour, turning to coat; shake off excess flour.Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add mushrooms, wine, broth, and juice to pan; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat well. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Sprinkle with parsley.

Nutritional Information:
241 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 41 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber, 308 g sodium