Archive for January, 2012


  1. Remove the skin from poultry and cut the fat off of meat BEFORE you cook it (not after) and you’ll save yourself quite a bit of calories.
  2. Store natural peanut butter (the kind that only has peanuts and salt as ingredients with the oil floating on the top) upside down. It is much easier to stir in the oil once you’re ready to use it.
  3. Don’t be fooled by the word “organic”. Organic food is produced with out pesticides or chemical fertilizers. However, a prepared organic meal that you find in the supermarket, can be loaded with fat, sugar and salt.
  4. A great way to control portion sizes is to change the container. If you want to eat 1 cup of cereal, for example, get a small 1-cup bowl and fill it to the brim.
  5. Agave and honey act the same way as sugar does in the body. Don’t get caught up in the word “natural”.
  6. If you love pizza but only want one slice, order thin crust pizza, ask for “light on the cheese”,  and add a one-inch layer of your favorite vegetable. (Potatoes don’t count.)
  7. Cooking sprays are great in terms of  low calories but contain other ingredients in there besides oil, including propellant. A better idea: get a “misto” bottle and use olive oil.
  8. When making roasted potatoes, leave the skins on—that’s where the fiber and many nutrients are.
  9. Sea salt is not “healthier” than regular salt.
  10. Olive oil is good for your heart whereas butter is mostly saturated fat and an unhealthy choice for your heart. However, a tablespoon of butter and tablespoon of olive oil all have the same amount of calories.

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Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken  


2 t garlic powder

2 t chili powder

1 t salt

1 t ground cumin

1 t paprika

½ t ground red pepper

8 skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts

1/3 cup honey

2 t cider vinegar


Preheat the broiler

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine the honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove the chicken from oven; brush ¼ cup of the honey mixture on the chicken. Broil for 1 minute. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn over. Brush with the remaining honey mixture and broil 1 additional minute or until the chicken is done.

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Last week, a family member took a photo of me on my i-phone. The minute I saw it I was horrified—it was NOT a flattering picture—I looked so OLD! So in a flash, I erased that horrible photo. Whew.

This modern-day technology got me thinking and I realized that digital photography and the ability to “erase” instantly can lead us to, what I call, digital denial.

Years ago, a friend of mine joined Weight Watcher’s after seeing an atrocious photograph of herself—she couldn’t believe that she was actually THAT big. Something “clicked” in her head once she saw the reality of that picture of herself. In those days, there were no digital cameras and no erase buttons.

Nowadays, when we glance at that appalling photo, we get rid of it in an instant. We can convince ourselves that it was just a “bad photo” and plunge into denial as we wait for a more flattering photo. Personally, I think it’s just another way of deluding ourselves. Your thoughts?

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Eating out and making  healthy choices can be challenging but so many of us REALLY get into trouble (meaning, we eat way too much) when going out for ethnic food. This is because we tend to SHARE. First, we order way too much food because we will be SHARING. Next, we lay it all out on the table in front of us to SHARE. Sharing, in a nutshell, is really no different then being faced with a mini buffet right at your table. (And there is no need to comment about how dangerous buffets are, is there?)

It is impossible to keep track of how many spoonfuls of rice, chicken curry, or beef and broccoli we took. This, of course, doesn’t include appetizers, such as spring rolls, dumplings or poppadoms. Or what about ripping off a piece or two of naan bread? Can you see the dangers?

The best way to be able to enjoy ethnic food AND sharing is to use your eyes. Fill up  1/2 your plate with lots of vegetables that are not smothered in sauces. Throw in a bit of protein and starch. The amount of protein should be about the size of your palm and the starch should be no bigger than your fist. Then, take a good look at your plate. It will be full of delicious food and will be enough for sure.  Eat slowly and do a lot of chewing for when you’re done with the food on your plate, you are done. I know I sound like a killjoy but this strategy might really help!

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Rosemary White Bean Soup


1 pound of dried white cannellini beans

4 cups sliced yellow onions (3 onions)

1-2 T olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)

2 quarts of chicken stock

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, sauté the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Remove the branch of rosemary and the bay leaf.

Pass the soup through a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.

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For those of you who never heard of Paula Deen, she is a southern cook and huge TV personality on the Food Network. When watching Paula whip up her recipes, I have heart palpitations, hyperventilate, and feel like I will pass out!  It’s no big secret that I’m fond of healthy food. While typical southern food is rich, Paula always takes it to the next level: Deep-fried macaroni and cheese? A juicy burger placed between two glazed crispy-cream donuts?  Giant oatmeal cookies stuffed with ice-cream and rolled in caramelized nuts? REALLY??? Every time I have watched her cook (and eat), I couldn’t help but say outloud “Boy, would I love to see the blood work on her!”

Today, news broke that Paula Deen has type 2 diabetes. Big surprise. This has sparked a lot of controversy. Paula was diagnosed 3 years ago, but didn’t reveal this about herself until today. She has teamed up with Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company who supplies her diabetes medication, and is now a spokesperson for them. She doesn’t think she needs to change her cooking—she has always felt that she can eat these wonderful southern dishes in moderation.

I think Paul Deen can do far more for people then promoting medication. She can take her recipes,  that are full of saturated fat, and modify them into healthier versions. She can be creative and inspire us! The reality is that a high-fat diet can lead to obesity. Obesity leads to type 2-diabetes. Even in moderation, it just won’t cut it—especially as we age.  I say, keep the premise of southern cooking but change the fat, Paula!

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Now that it’s January, it seems that there are more and more ads for diet plans. Because of this onslaught, many of you have asked me my opinion about some of these programs.

My ideal is for people to eat as many whole foods as possible–to have a diet filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and unsaturated fats. I’d also love for everyone to eat every 2 ½ -3 hours of small portions. Yes, this is my ideal.

I’m not crazy about bars, meal replacements, shakes or powders. I would never recommend any fad diet that promotes rapid weight loss or the Atkins Diet. However, I also know that we lead very busy, hectic lives and shopping, cooking and planning can be very challenging. So is eating every 2 ½ -3 hours. That’s why there are these various diet plans out there–they are designed to give you tools that will work for you.

We are all so different in our lifestyles, our food preferences and what works for each of us, which is why “one size fits all” can’t work for everyone. While some people swear by Weight Watchers, others can’t stand the point tracking system and would much rather have prepared food found on plans like Jenny Craig or Medifast. Others don’t want any form of diet—they want to be able to make healthy choices and learn portion control.

Clearly, there is no “perfect” plan for everyone. You need to do some research and evaluate the plan and see if it makes sense to you. Remember–a plan will only work when you decide to take the plunge and make a commitment. The bottom line is that doesn’t really matter what I think of the plan…….it matters what YOU think about it.

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