Archive for February, 2014

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC BELL PEPPERS

Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers124086-399x266-Red-and-Yellow-Peppers

The seasoning and flavors  in this recipe are delicious! It’s a great way to jazz up roasted chicken.

ingredients

salt (see recipe)

¾ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

½ t freshly ground pepper, divided

¼ t garlic powder

¼ t dried oregano

4, (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

olive oil (see recipe)

cooking spray

2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper

1 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper

½ cup thinly sliced shallots (1 large)

1 ½ t chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

1 T balsamic vinegar

directions

Pre-heat the oven to 4500 F.

Combine ½ t of salt, fennel seeds, ¼ t black pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the spice rub over it.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 ½ t of olive oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add the chicken and brown it for 2-3 minutes per side.

Arrange the chicken in a glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

Return the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 T of olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the bell peppers, shallots and rosemary. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, remaining 1/8 t of salt and ¼ t of pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve the bell pepper mixture over the chicken.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light, November, 2012)

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THE PITFALLS OF SHORTCUTS

If you ever painted a room, you know you have to follow ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????specific steps in order to get good results.

Years ago, I decided to paint my entire house. By the time I got to the last room, I simply ran out of patience so I took a shortcut: I didn’t let that first coat of paint dry thoroughly before I slapped on the second coat. I came back to find an entire wall of blistering bubbles. It cost me a fortune in time………I had to sand it all off and start again. Oh, why do we have to learn the hard way?

This is the same concept when you think there is a quick fix or a shortcut to weight loss. Healthy weight loss takes time. If it’s rapid, your metaphoric paint will bubble. It will not only cost you time; it will affect your health. Most likely, you will wind up putting on even more weight than what you previously lost.

Try and look at the bigger picture, which is permanent weight loss that is maintained. If it takes a little longer, so what! You will certainly avoid the tremendous pitfalls of that “too-good-to-be-true” shortcut.

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SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH TOMATOES, OLIVES AND FETA

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

 18967ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 T olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes

½ cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese

3 T sliced black olives

2 T chopped fresh basil

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.

Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

(Adapted from a recipe found on allrecipes.com)

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THE DANGER OF BEING HYPER-FOCUSED

My son, Alex, was born in Italy. Thank goodness he was my  baby-scalesecond child. If he were my first, I bet I would have fallen into the trap that all new Italian mothers tumbled into: buying an infant scale.

Twenty years ago, Italian mothers were very much into breastfeeding. But they were also obsessed with making sure that their babies had enough. For peace of mind, the Italian mother would have an infant scale at home. She would weigh her baby prior to breastfeeding him/her. Then,  she would re-weigh the baby after she nursed, so she could see for herself how much the baby was taking in.  I had an Italian friend who became hyper-focused on THE NUMBER on the scale. She wasn’t  looking at her baby and getting the cues from him. If she did, he would have given her all the feedback that she needed, instead of looking at the scale for the answers.

I think the same thing happens with us when it comes to calories. We are so focused on low-cal, that we sometimes lose sight of good nutrition. The perfect example is the abundance “100-calorie packs” of everything under the sun. Yes, it’s great that they’re 100 calories. However,  I can’t consider these processed foods  good nutrition. What about a piece of fruit?  Some nuts?  An egg? Some Greek Yogurt? Some low-fat cheese? Now we’re talking good nutrients!

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming hyper-focused on calories. Focus, instead, on putting highly nutritious food into your body.

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WHITE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

White Bean and Vegetable Soup  (serves 4) IMG_1130

This soup is VERY hearty and filling–there’s not much broth because it’s loaded with vegetables and beans. Utterly delicious!

ingredients

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup roughly chopped carrots

1 cup roughly chopped celery

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/8 t red crushed red pepper flakes

½ t fennel seeds

1 cup chopped plum tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 can (15-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 bag (13-16 oz) of your favorite dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, or mixed dark greens)

grated Parmesan cheese

directions

Heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook gently until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the fennel seeds, chili, garlic and stir. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the broth and beans and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Add the bag of dark leafy greens and stir until wilted.

Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with whole- grain bread.

(Adapted from a recipe found in “River Café Cook Book Easy”)

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TO BRUSH OR NOT TO BRUSH? THAT’S NEVER THE QUESTION!

The one habit that we all seem to do without thinking is Woman brushing her teeth-1586021brushing our teeth every morning. I don’t know many people who stop and think, “Do I feel like brushing today?” or, “Should I just blow it off and miss a day?”

If only we can treat exercise with this non-negotiable attitude.

Often I see people over thinking when it comes to exercise. They waste way too much time pondering over what type of exercise to do and/or where to do it. Remember—moving your body is awfully beneficial. Don’t get bogged down on the details! Go for a walk, pop in a video or climb your stairs. And treat this just like you do when it comes to brushing your teeth. With that mentality, you won’t go wrong.

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QUINOA SALAD WITH MEDITERRANEAN FLAVORS

Quinoa Salad with Mediterranean Flavors (serves 4)

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If you’re not crazy about quinoa just substitute in a grain that you like. Try brown rice or Israeli couscous. What about grains like farro or millet? Give them a try!

ingredients

½ cup quinoa (rinsed thoroughly)

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 ½ cups green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

½ t grated fresh lemon zest

3 T lemon juice

3 T finely chopped shallot

1/8 t salt

1/8 t pepper

3 T olive oil

1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved

¼ cup pitted kalmata olives, coarsely chopped

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup snipped fresh chives

directions

Combine quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
 Cover, reduce heat,  and simmer over a low heat until quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has
been absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

Whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot, salt and pepper in small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil.

Add the cherry tomatoes, olives, parsley, chives and green beans to quinoa. Add lemon dressing; toss to coat and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe found on http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu)

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