Sunday, December 26, 2010

DESSERT: 72% Cacao Guilt-Free Hot Chocolate

Empty mug every time.
I don't crave hot chocolate often, but when I do, I want it to warm me up, sweeten my palette, and soothe my soul.  I am not a big fan of most commercial hot chocolate because in addition to being fattening, it is over-the-top sweet.  This recipe is easy to follow, gives you a great dose of protein and antioxidants, and  tastes amazing - enjoy:

Serving Size: 1

Ingredients:
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate - try Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate as 1 square is perfect
  • 1 mug/cup of fat-free milk (measure milk in the mug you plan to drink out of)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Low fat whipped cream and/or cinnamon (optional)
Instructions:
  • Heat milk in a small saucepan for 2-3 minutes
  • Add in chocolate and continue to heat milk
  • Once chocolate begins to melt, start to whisk chocolate and milk
  • Continue to heat mixture, turn off heat once hot chocolate begins to boil
  • Pour, garnish, and enjoy

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DINNER: Spicy Thai Tofu with Red Bell Peppers and Spinach

I love Thai food, but all too often, I find it to be overly greasy.  I also don't care for all of the fried components, which I often feel add little to taste, but far too much to calorie count.  I came across a very useful basic recipe on Epicurious, but found it to be too bland (and mushy) for my taste.  I added my own spin by adding in additional ingredients, and of course, making it fat-conscious.  I served this with Thai spicy chicken curry (recipe to come) and brown rice  - enjoy:
Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsps finely chopped or minced fresh ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 14-to 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained well, cut into small cubes (I recommend you make four to five slices from the top and side to make nice sized cubes)
  • Small bunch of green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • 3 tbsps soy sauce
  • 1-2  tbsps fish sauce (available in the asian section of any grocery store)
  • 2-3 tbsps Sriracha sauce (Thai sauce that comes in a clear bottle or squeeze bottle - people typically identify it by the Rooster on the label)
  • 2-3 tbsps lime juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tbsps of prepared basil concentrate (try "Herbs in a Tube" - available in the produce section of most grocery stores)
  • 1/3 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp corn starch 
Instructions:
  • Heat oil in wok over high heat
  • Add bell peppers, ginger, and garlic; sauté on medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes
  • Mix all sauces and oils (soy, fish, sesame oil, and Sriracha)
  • Add tofu, green onions, and sauce mixture to the wok  - stir well and allow to heat for 3-4 minutes
  • Add in peanut butter - ensure that it melts and get spread throughout
  • Add spinach in three parts,  allow about 1 minute before each addition
  • Mix in basil
  • Allow ingredients to cook for at least another 15-20 minutes on moderate heat
  • Add in cornstarch if mixture is too liquidy (mix first with a few tbsps of cold water prior to mixing in to wok)
  • Mix in cornstarch, and allow mixture to cook for another 5 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Sprinkle peanuts over finished dish


Monday, November 22, 2010

DESSERT: Apple Tarts/Galettes

I love, love, love apple pie, apple crisps, etc, but I don't like the associated fat.  Most of the fat in apple treats comes from the dough itself - this recipe results in a very fulfilling apple tart without all of the gunk.  This is one of my favorite recipes because it makes the house smell amazing (great for Fall), I can get use apples on the cusp of going bad, and the galettes are just plain yummy.  Credit goes to The Purple Foodie (http://purplefoodie.com/easy-peasy-apple-galettes/) for her great inspiration. 

Serving Size: 8-10 galettes

Ingredients:
  • Filling
    • 4 apples, chopped into small pieces (use any kind of apples you have around)
    • 1.5 tbsp cinnamon
    • 2-3 tbsp agave syrup
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Dough
    • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1/4 cup apple sauce (in place of butter)
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 egg yolk, beaten (or you can replace the egg yolk with 1/2 tbsp ground flax seed (or 1.25 ground flax-seed meal) mixed with 2 tbsp water - let mixture set for a few minutes before mixing in)
Instructions:
  • Filling - mix all ingredients in a bowl
  • Dough
    • Mix the sugar and flour together, blend in apple sauce and egg yolk - I prefer using my hands, but a whisk is fine
    • Add in ice cold water if the mixture is too dry - if it's too moist, add in flour until the mixture is to your liking
    • Lightly oil a baking sheet (try putting a bit of olive oil on a paper towel and moistening the sheet)
    • Work with individual pieces of dough - dust each piece with flour and stretch out into a small circle; lay it out onto the baking sheet; continue to do this until you have made all of your galette bases
  • Spoon filling onto each base and then quickly turn up the outside edges of the dough over the mixture
  • Bake @350 degrees for 50-60 minutes

Saturday, November 13, 2010

HOTSTUFF: Favorite Foodie Apps (Whether You're Searching or Making Food)

My favorite (free) foodie mobile applications are as follows - feel free to recommend more:

  • Search for food
    • Yelp - where would I be without this handy mobile version of my favorite food (and everything) discovery site - the full application (as opposed to mobile web) allows you to figure out what's nearby, scan reviews and tips, and search for new places. Since I am such a dedicated Yelp user, I thought I'd mention some pros and cons:
      • Pros: easy to use, 99% dependable, and integrates well with the PC web version if you like.
      • Cons: The filter function only allows you to figure out what's "open now" as opposed to "open at x time"(which is very convenient if you plan to visit a restaurant in a few hours), Also, the map integration with Google Maps (on an iPhone anyway) can sometimes be screwy which means you have to open Google Maps separately and physically enter the address vs. using the handy "Directions to Business" function
    • Urbanspoon -this app isn't nearly as awesome as Yelp, but is more of a novelty.  It has a great food "food shake" feature, which is essentially a slot machine for nearby (or selected city) restaurants. It allows you to lock individual features such as city, type of cuisine, and price (dollar signs $-$$$$) so you can be as random or controlled as you like.  You can then get specific business information, get directions, and read reviews (not as neat as Yelp's interface, but good)
    • Foursquare - I use foursquare to check out places that are trending now, see where Foursquare users are gathered, check out local deals, and get some quick tips when at a restaurant.  Of course, it is always fun to check in and gather badges...
  • Make your own food
    • Allrecipes - love the website for all of my recipe needs, but this app provides me with great recipes on the run.  I use the dinner spinner quite a bit in order to get great inspiration - it's not as comprehensive as the website (and the search functionality doesn't always provide the best results), but it's a great, quick tool to use (especially when at the supermarket)
    • Epicurious - this app provides a fair share of recipes - the search function is great, and allows you to filter by a comprehensive list of dietary considerations amongst other features (like main ingredient, cuisine, etc) in addition to your chosen keywords, which results in a very tailored list of recipes 
    • Merillat Kitchen Helper - this app is designed to do one thing - provide you with substitutions for nearly any ingredient.  I don't know about you, but any app that helps me to a) utilize my existing ingredients, and b)avoid last minute supermarket dashes is at the top of my list! 
      • How to Cook Everything - Essentials - this app is essentially an upgrade seller, but even in absence of the pro edition, it's a great app.  The recipes are great, but what I really love are the primers on cooking essentials, such as techniques, the basics on ingredients, and food preperation

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DINNER: Easy, Low-fat, Spicy Chicken Curry

Paprika is absent -the curry is usually more red
I find Indian food incredibly hard to make successfully - the number of spices and advanced techniques involved can often create an over-flavored disaster.  This recipe is easy to make, the ingredients are accessible at your local grocery store, and it's healthy.

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water - use as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 red onion, diced thinly
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (toss the stems)
  • 2 tbsp ginger (diced very finely)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (don't forget to use a garlic press)
  • 2 pds skinless, boneless, chicken thigh filets chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced

Instructions:
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a large skillet, add onions and bay leaf - let cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes (or until the onions are golden)
  • Add turmeric, chili powder, paprika, ginger, and garlic - add enough water so that the mixture and the onions are moist - reduce heat and stir as needed for 2-3 minutes
  • When water has evaporate, add in chicken, tomato,  cloves, and at least 1 tbsp of water
  • Cover and simmer for at least 30-35 minutes - if the curry is too moist, feel free to add in bread crumbs or cornstarch as that will help to thicken the curry sauce
  • Add in cilantro prior to serving

BUILDING BLOCK: Savory Sauce Base

I made a mustard sauce last night, and in the process realized how easy it is to make a sauce base (add in whatever you like post base-creation).

Serving Size: Modify Accordingly

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (or use 4 tbsp flour and double water)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chicken/veggie broth
Instructions:
  • Mix cornstarch/flour with water and let sit
  • Boil broth and subsequently bring to a simmer
  • Add in mixture to broth - stir until sauce thickens
  • Add additional broth if you want a thinner sauce
  • Add in desired ingredients (for a mustard sauce - try two tbsp of a spicy mustard)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SIDE DISHES: Garlic and Spice Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts aren't exactly my favorite vegetable; in fact, I've found ways to dodge these mini-cabbages for decades.  Recently, I felt the need to give these cancer-fighters a shot, and I think it's fair to say that when prepared in the following fashion, they may be on my vegetable rotation list (credit goes to 101cookbooks.com for my inspiration):

Serving Size: 3-4 (as an appetizer)

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 tsp salt (freshly ground or sea salt is best - Trader Joes has great disposable spice grinders)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (always opt for freshly ground)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Any favorite seasoning for added taste
Instructions:
  • Cut stems of brussel sprouts and remove tough outer layer (I just peel off the outer dark leaves by hand)
    • Cut brussel sprouts in half
  • Heat oil and garlic in a large pan 
  • Add in spices 
  • Add in brussel sprouts and coat them in the mixture of oil and spices
  • Add additional spices to taste
  • Reduce heat to low and cover pan - allow sprouts to cook for at least 7-10 minutes (be sure to move them now and again)
  • Enjoy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

DINNER: Easy, Fire Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers

I love stuffed bell peppers, but am not the biggest fan of the pan/oven work involved - this recipe skips the oven, is very easy to make, low in fat, and tastes amazing.
Serving Size: 2

Total Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cut each bell pepper lengthwise and remove stem and seeds
  • 1/3-1/2 pound lean ground beef (ground chicken or turkey work as well, as does tofu)
  • 1.5-2 cups mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes (Roma tomatoes work fine in terms of size), chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves, garlic, crushed
  • Spices
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 tsp ground basil
  • 1/4 cup favorite melting cheese - blue cheese is ideal
Instructions:
  • Saute onions and garlic in 1-2 tsp of olive oil until lightly browned
  • Add in spices, ground beef, mushrooms, tomatoes, and an additional tbsp of olive oil
  • Once beef is thoroughly browned, move mixture to one side of the pan and place bell peppers in pan with hollows face up (or place peppers in a freshly oiled pan if this is too complicated)
  • Lower heat to a simmer and fill bell peppers with beef mixture - cover pan and let sit over heat for 3-5 minutes
  • Remove bell peppers from the pan, sprinkle blue cheese over peppers and serve (I also like to serve the peppers topped with my fresh guacamole)
  • Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HOTSTUFF: Onion Goggles - they're not only for Halloween

Ugly? Yes.  Forgettable? Never.
I don't know about you, but my love/hate relationship with onions has been downright painful; I teared up, winced in pain, had to take mid-cooking eye-rinse out breaks, and even resorted to omitting onions from my recipes...that is, until I got my onion goggles. My onion goggles are a superior alternative to the saran wrap solution I once tried; they block out all irritants, allow me to see clearly, and unlike the swimming goggles I tried to wear through a particularly long onion dicing session, they don't hurt!  I bought mine on Amazon a few years back (Sur La Table also carries them if you want to try these puppies on before buying), and I haven't looked back once.  Your friends and significant other may snicker, but who cares so long as you're tear/pain free!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

HOTSPOTS: Napa for Non-Drinkers

As a native-Californian, it's embarrassing to admit, but my first trip to Napa was today.  I previously avoided the Napa Valley, because I was convinced there was nothing here for non-drinkers. I was definitely wrong; in fact, here's what I enjoyed on my day trip:

  • Sterling Vineyards Gondola, Calistoga - I enjoyed awe-inspiring views of Sterling Vineyards and surrounding vineyards as I took the gondola ride up from the vineyards to the estate.  While at the estate, I took the self guided tour, where I learned A LOT about wine production 









    • Culinary Institute of America, St Helena - This beautiful building, formerly owned by Greystone Cellars, offers a few opportunities for fun: take a self-guided or guided tour of the non-profit school (including the awe-inspiring Viking Kitchen, where visitors can watch students practice their culinary arts), browse the Spice Islands Marketplace (and new chocolate bar) , watch cooking demonstrations and tastings at the De Baun Theatre, and finally enjoy amazing food at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant (I highly recommend sitting at the bar where you can watch the all-student chef crew prepare your food - try their appetizer tastings, OlivetoLive olive oil tasting, and don't leave without having their Lava Cake)








  • Bouchon Bakery - Do not leave Napa before grabbing coffee (including macchiato served the right way), Parisian macaroons (love pistachio, but have to admit that Patisserie Phillipe's in SF are far better), and their amazing "Chantilly" eclair 




    • While I only had about five hours in Napa Valley; I certainly had an alcohol-free blast, and can't wait to return to check out the hot springs, Ad Hoc, and all the other goodies the Valley has to offer.

      Monday, October 25, 2010

      HOTSTUFF: Stainless Steel French Press

      For those of you who aren't coffee maker fans - I highly recommend the Bodum Arabica Stainless Steel French Press.  After years of dropping and breaking fragile glass french presses - this press is a dream come true; plus, it keeps my coffee warm for at least 20-30 minutes longer than its glass cousin.  I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma (http://tinyurl.com/292uyyo), but they are available online at multiple retailers.

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      DINNER: Easy, Low Fat Fettucine Alfredo

      Fettucine Alfredo is my all-time favorite Italian dish, but it has traditionally been on my list of foods to avoid - not so with this super easy, nutritious recipe.

      Serving Size: 3-4

      Ingredients:
      • 1 package mushrooms (crimini or standard white mushrooms work)
      • 10-12 ounces whole wheat fettucine 
      • 1 pound sliced thigh filets, fat removed, and sliced into thin pieces (you'll find that this tastes far better than breast meat)
      • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
      • 1 tbsp chopped basil (dried or packaged works)
      • 1 tsp black pepper
      • 2 cups skim milk
      • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (white flour works as well)
      • 2-3 cloves crushed garlic (or 1 tbsp garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic)
      • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
      • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (Trader Joe's has a good bottled version, although fresh grated is always preferable)
      Instructions:
      • Boil pasta while preparing chicken - try to time it so that upon straining you can put it straight into the parmesan sauce
      • Pour 1-2 tbsp of olive oil into a pan and quickly pan fry chicken, all spices, garlic, and mushrooms
      • In a large saucepan - create a roux with the milk (this gives you the thickness of a cream, but without the fat): heat 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and dust the oiled surface of the pan with whole wheat flour until it browns - pour in the milk and mix well until you have a relatively thick sauce.  Add additional flour as needed (sparingly).
      • Add chicken and mushrooms to the heated sauce
      • Add in drained pasta and ensure that pasta and sauce are mixed well (make sure all pasta is coated with the sauce)
      • Add in parmesan cheese
      • Serve and enjoy.

      Saturday, September 4, 2010

      DESSERT: Chipmunk Chip Cookies - Easy, low-fat Chocolate Chip (and Peanut Butter) Cookies

      These chocolate cookies are ridiculously easy to make, very tasty, relatively high in fiber, and low-fat.  You can add peanut butter (unsweetened or sweetened) for an extra kick.

      Serving Size: 1.5 Dozen Cookies

      Ingredients:
      • 1 egg
      • 1 cup whole wheat flour
      • 1 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 2-3 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
      • 1/4 - 1/2 cup agave or brown sugar (optional)
      Instructions:
      • Beat egg
      • Add in flour, vanilla, and apple sauce
      • Add in all remaining ingredients
      • Mix until smooth
      • Add in additional flour or apple sauce depending on whether you want a more moist or dry cookie
      • Bake cookies @350 for 10-20 minutes - check cookies at 10, 15, and 20 minute marks - the drier your cookie, the less baking time you will need

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      DESSERT: Vanilla (or Vanilla-Lime) Cream Cheese Frosting

      This low-fat cream cheese frosting tastes amazing, can easily be flavor-modified (see my lime suggestion below), is easy to make, and is superior option to full-fat frostings.

      Serving Size: Frosts 1 Dozen Cupcakes or 1 Small Cake

      Ingredients:
      • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese (or tofu cream cheese), softened
      • 3/4 cup agave
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
      • 1/2 lime (or lemon), juiced (medium size) - Optional
      Instructions:

      • In a small mixing bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth (try using a whisk)
      • Refrigerate, and spread on cupcakes or cake when cool

      DESSERT: Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop Cupcakes

      If you're a fan of chocolate cupcakes, try this amazing low-fat cocoa cupcake recipe: low-pudge, chocolaty, any pure yum.

      Serving Size: 1 Dozen

      Ingredients:
      • 3 cups all purpose or whole wheat
      • 1.5 cups agave(or brown sugar)
      • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
      • 2 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1.5 cup fat-free plain yogurt
      • 1 cup skim milk
      • 8 egg whites
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      Instructions:
      • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
      • Beat egg whites
      • Mix in other wet ingredients
      • Mix dry ingredients seperately
      • Slowly pour egg mixture into flour mixture
      • Scoop mixture into cupcake cups (3/4 of the cup height - in muffin pan or stand alone on a pan) 
      • Bake @400 for 20 minutes

      Tuesday, June 29, 2010

      Patriotic Pillows...just in time for the 4th


      Texas native, Christin Morgan, represents for all states in her line of super fun, hand-stitched felt pillows.  Grab yours now in time for the 4th: http://www.etsy.com/shop/lovecalifornia

      I recently caught up with the California transplant who has plans for greenness and goodness: recycled felt and non-profit donations are on the way...

      Monday, June 21, 2010

      DESSERT: Frosty the Cupcake-man

      This vanilla frosting is a great basic, and you can use it on cake, cupcakes, or on your french toast...yum.  Refer to my notes on butter substitutes before you begin, and be sure to use a mixer.

      Serving Size: Frosts 1-2 dozen (double the ingredients if you want thick frosting) cupcakes or a small cake

      Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup low-far butter
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 3 1/2-4 cups ground brown sugar or stevia (substitute for confectioners sugar, but you must be sure to grind the sugar well)
      • 1/4 cup skim milk
      Instructions:
      • Beat the butter until it is fluffy
      • Add in the sugar and continue to beat the butter and sugar together
      • Add in the milk, extract, and salt
      • Continue to beat until your mixture is light and fluffy
      • You're done - enjoy!

      DESSERT: Pistachio (Rose) Cupcakes to Write Home About

      The last flavor people think of when they bake cupcakes is pistachio, but the truth is, this lovely green cupcake should be higher on the list of cupcake possibilities.  A few notes before you begin: first, stevia may be used, but only if you can deal with the aftertaste.  I recommend that you do half or three-quarters agave and 1/4 or 1/2 stevia.  Second, I highly recommend a mixer for this recipe, it's very thick.  Third, you can replace butter with one of three items: 1) apple sauce: 1:1 ratio, 2) low-fat butter: try the french brand they sell at trader joes (it comes in a little white container), 3) substitute half the butter with low-fat vanilla yogurt - do not do a 1:1 substitute. Fourth, you do not have to integrate the rose - some people just can't get down with this flavor - it's ok!

      Finally, be sure to frost these cupcakes!

      Serving Size: 12 (1 Dozen Cupcakes)

      Ingredients:
      • 1 cup whole wheat flour
      • ½ cup pistachios, very finely ground
      • 1 ½ tsps baking powder 
      • ½ tsp salt
      • ½ cup skim milk (or soy milk)
      • ½ tsp vanilla extract
      • ¼ tsp almond extract
      • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
      • 4 tsps low-fat butter (see substitution notes above)
      • ½ cup agave (see substitution notes above)
      • 1 tsp rose essence (optional)
      Instructions:
      • Preheat oven to 350º
      • Insert cupcake liners (try foil ones instead of paper) in muffin pan or prepare liners on a flat tray (you don't need the muffin pan but do note that if you use the liners by themselves on a tray, your cupcakes will be a bit wider)
      • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pistachios, baking powder and salt; set aside. 
      • Stir extracts into the milk; set aside.
      • Beat the egg whites until fluffy
      • In a large bowl, beat the butter and agave (or stevia) until it is light and fluffy
      • On low speed, gradually add flour mixture. 
      • Slowly pour in milk-extract combination, and beat until mixed - avoid over-beating
      • Fold in the beaten egg whites
      • Evenly spoon batter into prepared muffin pan or liners. 
      • Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

      Friday, June 11, 2010

      Free Nobu? I'm in!

      Nobu is one of my favorite sushi joints ever, and the chance to win a free trip to Nobu NYC compliments of AT&T is even better...enter the contest here: http://www.ypmobilewin.com/?or=tasb

      Saturday, June 5, 2010

      DESSERT: Easy Agave-Sweetened Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Mousse

      Servings: 5-7

      Ingredients:
      • 1 Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Baking Bar (or 4 oz of 72% Cacao or greater dark chocolate)
      • 4 tbsp agave nectar
      • 2-3 tbsp pure vanilla extract
      • 3 tbsp brown sugar
      • 3 large eggs
      • 2 cups buttermilk (try Trader Joe's lowfat buttermilk)
      Instructions:
      • Heat buttermilk in a medium sized saucepan for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently (don't worry if the milk seperates)
      • Beat the three eggs until slightly frothy
      • Add agave to the egg mix
      • Add the egg mixture to the buttermilk and stir constantly for at least 4-5 minutes; keep the mixture over low-medium heat
      • Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool for 4-5 minutes
      • Stir in chocolate and sugar (you can omit the sugar and just up the agave)
        • NOTE: because the recipe uses buttermilk instead of cream, the mixture may look somewhat lumpy - utilize a hand blender to quickly stir and create a more homogeneous mixture
      • Pour mixture into a mixing bowl (stainless steel is best) 
      • Add in vanilla extract
      • Set mixture aside to cool for 3-5 minutes
      • Allow mixture to set in the fridge for at least three to four hours
      • Serve plain or with a garnish (try a dollop of whipped cream, mint, and berries)

      Friday, May 21, 2010

      SIDES: Skinny Blue Cheese Dip

      Servings: 10-15

      Ingredients:
      • 3 cups of low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese
      • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
      • 1/4 tsp ground cumin/coriander (or just parsley)
      • 1/4 tsp black pepper
      Instructions:
      • Blend all ingredients in food processor
      • Serve with carrot and celery sticks - enjoy!

      SIDES: Killer, Spicy Hummus

      Servings: 10-15

      Ingredients:
      • 2 cans of garbanzo beans
      • 5 tbsp tahini
      • 4 tbsp lemon juice
      • 1 tbsp water
      • 3 cloves garlic
      • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
      • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
      • 1/4 tsp pepper, salt, and paprika
      • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
      Instructions:
      • Blend garbanzo beans 1/2 cup at a time in the food processor - use lemon juice and olive oil to soften the mix
      • Blend all ingredients together
      • Serve with pita chips and enjoy

      SIDES: Spinach Risotto with Brown Rice

      Servings: 15-20 (Scale down according to the size of your party)

      Ingredients:
      • (2) 10-ounce packages of frozen, chopped spinach
      • 3 cups brown rice
      • 10 cups of water
      • 1/3 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
      • 3 cups onions, finely chopped
      • 6 tbsp olive oil
      • 8-10 mushrooms, finely chopped
      • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
      • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
      Instructions:
      • Cook spinach over medium heat until the spinach is fairly drained - set aside
      • Bring 4 cups of water and 1/3 cup of Bragg's to a boil and then allow to simmer
      • While water is boiling, in a separate (large pot), saute onions in oil until softened (7-10 minutes)
      • Stir in rice; make sure each grain is coated in oil
      • Pour in 3/4 cup of broth and wait until the rice absorbs the broth, continue to pour in until 1/2 of the broth is left
      • Add spinach and mushrooms
      • Pour in the remaining broth and allow rice to simmer for another 20-25 minutes until all of the broth is absorbed
      • Add in buttermilk and stir throughout rice

      Sunday, April 25, 2010

      DINNER: Chicken Parm 2

      Servings: 4-5

      Ingredients:
      • 3 eggs, beaten
      • 1.5-1.8 pounds chicken breast, cut into filets
      • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
      • 1 cup breadcrumbs
      • 1/2 tsp black pepper
      • 2 tbsp olive oil
      • 1 bottle marinara sauce (or for a spicy kick try Trader Joe's Arrabiata Sauce)
      Instructions:
      • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
      • Beat eggs mix in black pepper and set aside in bowl
      • Mix parmesan and breadcrumbs and set aside on a plate or bowl
      • Spread oil across the base of two baking sheets or bakeware
      • Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture and then proceed to dip into paremesan/breadcrumb mix and finally onto the baking sheet
      • Spoon marinara sauce over breaded chicken
      • Bake and enjoy!

      Friday, April 9, 2010

      HOTSPOT: N'ice, N'ice Baby

      Ice Cream makes me happy.  N'ice Cream on Abbot Kinney in Venice makes me happier because I don't have to worry about burning 300-400 calories and 30-40 grams of fat before it hits my behind.

      Go here if you 1) love gelato, 2) appreciate high quality, fresh gelato, and 3) find 120 calories/<6grams of fat per serving gelato to be nothing short of a miracle!

      Wednesday, March 17, 2010

      DESSERT: Healthy and Easy Gajar Ka Halwa

      Early in the evaporation phase
      Note: Gajar Ka Halwa ("Sweet of Carrot") is a traditional Indian/Pakistani dessert - the standard recipe calls for ghee (clarified butter) and a ton of sugar - this recipe eliminates all the bad stuff so you can really taste the great ingredients.  The traditional method involves grinding the carrots and a series of complicated steps, which have also been eliminated in this recipe. 

      Servings: 10-15

      Ingredients:
      Late in the evaporation phase
      • 1/2 gallon non-fat or low-fat milk (substitute: soy milk)
      • (2) 1 1lb bags of whole carrots, peeled and chopped into thirds
      • 5 cardamom pods, peeled and ground finely (substitute: 1/4 tsp ground cardamom powder)
      • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
      • 1/4 cup honey (substitute: agave or no sugar and use vanilla soy milk instead of regular milk)
      • 1/2 cup almonds, cut into small pieces (with peels on)
        • OPTIONAL ALTERNATIVE: peeled and cut into small pieces - you can easily remove the peels on almonds by placing them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, removing them from heat, and then peeling them as soon as they are cool enough to be handled
        Halwa is ready - milk has evaporated
      • Saffron (optional)
      Instructions
      • Option 1
        • Quickly grind carrots in a food processor (just so that they're in pieces)
        • Place carrots into a large pot with milk
        • Bring milk to a boil
        • Once the milk comes to a boil. immediately bring it down to a simmer - now proceed with remaining steps
      • Option 2
        • Place carrots into a large pot with milk
        • Bring milk to a boil
        • Once the milk comes to a boil. immediately bring it down to a simmer
        • Once the carrots are soft, use a potato smasher tool to mash the carrots
      • Keep heating mixture until the milk evaporates entirely (this can take more than an hour)
      • Add almonds once most of the milk evaporates
      • Once the milk evaporates, add cardomom, cinnamon, and sweetener
      • Keep the mixture over low heat until it becomes thick
      • Add a pinch of saffron
      • Enjoy!

      Friday, March 12, 2010

      FITNESS: Super Gym Deal: 24 Hour Fitness Memberships at Costco?!

      I have been a member of a great, but seriously overpriced LA gym until a recent shift required me to change gyms.  I came across an amazing deal at Costco: $299 for a two year, all-club (except the Super Sport and Ultra-Sport) 24 Hour Fitness membership.  This works out to $12.50 a month - I was paying almost seven times that at my old gym.  I got my membership today, and it was a total breeze.  I went in to a local 24 Hour Fitness, showed the membership representative my id, and was on my way. Whether or not you go for the prepaid Costco card,  I highly recommend visiting the Sherman Oaks Galleria location and signing up with Brady, he's super nice, funny, and doesn't try to upsell you on anything...oh, and supposedly Britney Spears stalks him...

      Tuesday, March 9, 2010

      DESSERT: Waist-Conscious Chocolate/Vanilla Trifle

      Servings: 12-15

      Ingredients:
      • 1 large container strawberries, cut into small cubes or slivers
      • 2 peaches, cut into small cubes or slivers
      • 3 packages instant chocolate pudding (try the Trader Joe's version - it's low fat, gelatin-free, and easy to make - you can also use the Jello brand low-fat instant pudding mix as well)
      • 1 (8 oz) container of low-fat or non-fat vanilla yogurt (Trader Joe's Non-fat French-Village Vanilla and Mountain High Low-Fat Vanilla are both good options )
      • 1 small box graham crackers (you will only use about 20-30 crackers max)
      • Optional: Carob Chips or Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
      Instructions:
      • Prepare pudding and put aside to chill for at least five minutes
      • Use a large, clear, glass serving bowl (or a footed trifle bowl if you have one) 
      • Cover base of bowl with a solid layer of graham cracker
      • Layer on ingredients - 2" of vanilla, strawberries, crushed graham cracker,  2" of pudding, then peaches
      • Repeat your layering pattern 
      • Top with remaining fruit, graham crackers, and any optional ingredients
      • Let chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour
      • Enjoy!

      Monday, March 8, 2010

      DINNER: Stuffed but Skinny Pasta Shells and Sauteed Mushrooms and Tomato over Spinach

      Servings: 5 - 6

      Ingredients:
      • 1 lb lean ground beef (or ground chicken or tofu)
      • 1 large bunch of spinach (try the Trader Joe's bag of spinach - it's pre-cut)
      • 1/2 pound of mushrooms (or try one of the small containers), chopped
      • 1 box of large pasta shells (try Barolli's)
      • 1 container of low-fat/non-fat cottage cheese (Trader Joe's has a good one - but the half or full size container depending on what ratio of cottage cheese/mozzarella you prefer)
      • 1 bag of shredded light mozzarella cheese (personally prefer a spicy blend such as Trader Joe's light Mexican blend)
      • 1 bottle of arrabiata pasta sauce (Trader Joe's has a great one) 
      • 1 small can of tomato paste (Hunts makes small bottles that are perfect for this recipe)
      • 3 eggs (substitute: 3 egg whites)
      • 1 chopped red pepper
      • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
      • Oregano
      • Cayenne Pepper
      • Pepper
      • Salt
      Instructions
      • Boil Pasta 
        • Tip: add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of olive oil to the boiling water prior to adding in the pasta 
      • Prepare Meat/Tofu/Chicken Sauce
        • Saute garlic with a 1 tbsp of olive oil for at least 2/3 minutes
        • Add in ground beef (or alternate)
        • Allow beef and garlic to simmer for 3-4 minutes
        • Add 1/2 to 1 tsp of black pepper
        • Add in 1/2 of bottle of arabbiata sauce and mix the meat and sauce to ensure a uniform consistency - allow the the mixture to simmer for at least 3-4 minutes
        • Add in all of the tomato paste and mix
        • Add in red pepper
        • Add in remaining arabbiate sauce
        • Allow mixture to simmer for another 5 minutes or so - toss in a handful of spinach if you like
      • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
      • Prepare Cheese Sauce
        • Mix cottage cheese, mozzarella, and eggs 
        • Set aside in the refrigerator until you prepare your pasta
      •  Prepare your pasta for baking
        • Spread your meat sauce across the bottom of your casserole dishes (use as many as you need to use all of your pasta shells)
        • This layer should cover the bottom of your dishes entirely
        • Spread out the pasta face up across your dishes - leave them with breathing room
        • Fill your pasta (use a spoon) with the cheese mixture
        • Drizzle any remaining sauce on top of the pasta
      • Bake @350 for 30 minutes
      • While your pasta is baking, prepare your saute
        • Wash and leave spinach to dry
        • Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium size frying pan and add in all of your mushrooms
        • Add in a dash of garlic salt (or garlic powder and salt)
        • Add in a generous amount of black pepper
        • Add in cayenne pepper to your taste
        • Allow mushrooms to saute for at least 4-5 minutes
        • Add in tomatoes
        • Allow mixture to heat for another 5-10 minutes
        • Serve the sauteed mushrooms and tomato over the spinach
      • Enjoy!

      Friday, March 5, 2010

      HOTSPOTS: Set your alarm now for these LA Breakfast Spots

      A combination of my "pork-allergies" and health-consciousness caused me to avoid eating breakfast out for a number of years...until I found the following breakfast-savers:
      • Mani's Bakery and Cafe on Fairfax in Los Angeles - ultra healthy, tasty, and no other-white-meat on site
      • A Votre Sante in Brentwood - great organic, healthy options - o.w.m. free - do order a side of blue corn and banana pancakes
      • M Cafe de Chaya in Culver City, on Melrose, or the new Beverly Hills location - vegan, and you won't miss anything
      • Figtree's Cafe on the Venice Boardwalk - organic, super-reasonable, and o.w.m free - they use soy-cheese, chicken sausage, and make multigrain pancakes - yum
      • Inn on the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon - go here for an amazing, organic, and o.w.m. free Sunday buffet (a la carte is good too for those of you who aren't big morning eaters) - where else can you enjoying a stevia sweetened scone and crab legs while sitting next to a running creek?
      • Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana - check them out for an ultra-unique vegan brunch experience - just don't wear your Juicy sweats to this slightly dressy establishment
      • Whole Foods Market everywhere - variety, variety, and more variety - and you can sit and eat here for you grocery-store-phobes
      • Marston's Restaurant in Pasadena - they are ultra-helpful with any "allergies" and serve up amazing corn-flake coated french toast (I get mine made with whole wheat toast, low oil, and a side of strawberries)

      TECHNOLOGY: Fat Conscious Foodie is on Twitter

      For all you Twitter-holics - follow FCF @consciousfoodie

      FITNESS: Griffith Park Night Hikes

      I can't be the only one who feels like passing out while hiking in full sun...right? Well, it turns out there is a great alternative for the sun-phobic amongst us (or more realistically, those who don't have time during the day): night hikes! 

      The Sierra Club hosts night hikes a few days a week at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.  Here is what I know for sure:
      • Who: The Sierra Club, 213-387-4287
      • Where: Meet at the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr Los Angeles, CA 90027
      • When: 6:45 p.m. (don't be late), Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
      • What: Night Hike, silly
      I will definitely upload pix when I finally make it to the hike; thus far I have been curtailed by high winds, strep throat, a fender bender, and a number of other random, but minor tragedies.  Enjoy!

      Tuesday, March 2, 2010

      HOTSPOTS: Honolulu for the Healthy

      How many times has one of your traveling companions urged you to indulge in some not-so-healthy habits (typically some serious dessert or pasta) because, "you're on vacation".  Don't fall into this trap my friends - moobs, and muffin-tops never, ever go on vacation, and your diet shouldn't either.  Here are some healthy-spots/ideas worth considering in and around Honolulu:
      • Food
        • Breakfast/Lunch
          • Whole Foods
            • 4211 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816-5340 
          • Ruffage Natural Foods
            • 2443 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 922-2042
          • Marie's Health Foods - Organic Cafe 
            • 2155 Kalakaua Ave, Ste 110, Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 926-3900
          •  The Cheesecake Factory
            • I know this place is notoriously bad news for the healthy, but make your own omelet (I recommend all egg whites, mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes, and avocados)
            • 2301 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 924-5001
        • Dinner 
          • Tokkuri-Tei
            • You'll see way more locals here than tourists - amazing sushi
            • 611 Kapahulu Ave, Ste 102, Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 739-2800
          • Duke's 
            • You can't go wrong with their salad bar (included with all entrees - stay away from the fresh caesar and go straight for their fresh veggies), grilled fish, steak, or poultry
            • 2335 Kalakaua Ave, Ste 116, Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 922-2268
          •  Roy's
            • Stick with their grilled poultry, fish, or steak (make sure you get a lean cut)
            • 226 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815, (808) 923-7697
      • Activities
        • Surfing Lessons
          •  DCX Surf School
            • Supposedly the best - it's right on Waikiki beach and it's a great deal - $35 
            • 2410 Koa Ave, Honolulu, HI 96805, (808) 926-1414
        • Hikes
          • Manoa Falls Hike 
            • Amazing, and you're under full shade for the majority of the hike
          • Diamond Head State Monument 
            • Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816, (808) 587-0300
          • Mariner's Ridge Hike   
            • Kaluanui Road, Honolulu, HI 96825
        • Kayaking
          • Kailua Beach Park
            • Great kayaking and the beach is gorgeous
            • Rent a kayak and head to the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar (miniature dissapearing island) or a nearby bird sanctuary
              • Twogood Kayaks - highly recommended 
                • 345 Hahani St, Kailua, HI 96734, (808) 262-5656

      Wednesday, February 24, 2010

      BEAUTY: Organic Tanning

      As many of you know, I am a stranger to the sun.  I wear large sunglasses, church-lady hats, and never leave the house without at least SPF 70 sunblock.  I'm seriously considering purchasing driving gloves and the welder mask-like contraption donned by many of the older Asian women in my neighborhood.

      What does a girl like me have to do to get some serious color?  Call Kelsey at Lavish Tan in Venice.  They specialize in organic, sprayless tanning. The "tan" lasts for at least a week and more likely closer to two weeks.  Kelsey is super sweet, and professional (she even texts your appointment confirmations), and has made quite a name for herself amongst those of us who fear the sun (it doesn't hurt that she has experience with Sports Illustrated models and some well-known actresses). The cost? About $45 bucks a pop - think about all the money you'll save on Botox, Restylane, and chemical peels later on in life to repair your sun-ravaged skin :)

      Tuesday, February 23, 2010

      LUNCH / DINNER: Tofu and Kale Delight

      Servings: 4

      Ingredients:
      • 1 pack (Trader Joe's Firm Tofu), chopped
      • 1 bunch, Kale or Spinach, chopped
      • 4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
      • 1/2 tsp ginger, chopped
      • 1 onion, chopped
      • 1 tbsp soy sauce
      • 1 tbsp liquid aminos (optional, but this stuff is amazing)
      • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
      • 1/4 tsp black pepper
      • 1 tsp crushed red chili
      • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
      Instuctions:
      • In a medium size pot, saute the onion in olive oil until slightly golden
      • Add in ginger and garlic and continue to saute for a few minutes
      • Add in spices, saute for another few minutes
      • Add in tofu, continue to saute (a few minutes should do)
      • Add in kale or spinach, and cover pot and let simmer for approximately ten minutes or until done
      • Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered in order to let the flavors marry 
      • Serve over couscous, quinoa, or brown rice

      BEAUTY: Oatmeal-Honey Mask

      I love buying masks.   The thought of deep dermal cleansing really appeals to my OCD side. In the last few months alone, I purchased a Tar Mask at Raya Spa, a Suki Clay Mask, and an Organic Apoteke Detox Mask.  While mask shopping is always fun, they don't always work.  This oatmeal mask is especially effective because of the fact that you are utilizing the saponins in the oats which are extremely effective at cleaning pores; the honey works to do the same in addition to calming and revitalizing the skin.  Try this mask to clean and calm your skin (didn't know you could do both at the same time did you):

      Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup of oats (any kind will do)
      • 1/2 cup of hot water
      • 1/4 cup of honey
      Instructions:
      • Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender (I tried to use the hand blender, but the oats wouldn't break down, and who wants a lumpy mask)
      • Let the mixture cool
      • Apply to skin
      • Wait ten minutes
      • Rinse

      Saturday, February 20, 2010

      Contact Us

      Please contact us via Kontactr. Our apologies for this rudimentary link, but Blogspot does not offer a contact us form!

      DINNER: Pasta-Free Eggplant-Chicken Lasagna

      Servings: 3-4

      Ingredients:
      • 1 pound of lean chicken breast filets, sliced
        •  keep the chicken filet width and length as is, just thinly slice the chicken breasts as these will serve as layers for your dish
      • 1 large eggplant, sliced
        • the goal here is to get long and wide slices of eggplant that you will eventually use to serve as the layers of your lasagna - so you want to cut from the top of the eggplant to the bottom 
        • slice pieces that are no more than 1/8" inch thick - your pieces should be about 6-8" long x 3-4" wide x 1/8" thick - remember the bigger the eggplant, the larger your layers
      • 1/2 cup - 1 cup shredded mozzarella or cheese blend (try the Trader Joe's bagged shredded, skim mozzarella or the mexican cheese blend)
      • Spinach, leaves (try the Trader Joe's bagged spinach)
      • Pepper
      • Cayenne Pepper
      • Oregano
      • Optional: Arrabiata Sauce (Trader Joe's has a great one)
      Instructions:
      • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
      • Sprinkle chicken with oregano, pepper, cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt (remember, the cheese has salt - don't over do it) - set aside
      • Lightly oil a casserole dish (you may need two depending on the size of your eggplant slices)
      • Lay your first level of eggplant slices across the entire bottom of your dish (keep your direction consistent)
      • Layer your chicken immediately above the eggplant
      • Layer on spinach immediately over the chicken
      • Add another layer of eggplant slices
      • Layer on spinach
      • OPTIONAL: you may add a light layer of arrabiata sauce - don't be afraid to let it spill over the sides
      • Layer on cheese
      • Dash black pepper across the cheese (optional if using arrabiata sauce)
      • Repeat in second dish if you have eggplant and chicken left over
      • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes

      BEAUTY: It's all about the Almondoco

      As many of you know, I have a head of unruly, curly hair.  While I am mostly able to maintain it via the typical curly hair styling products (Aveda, Pravana (sulfite and sulfate-free), and a wide variety of other elixirs), my undisciplined hair does enjoy freaking out now and then. 

      A friend of mine recommended that I mix almond oil and coconut oil (1:1 ratio) and apply that to my hair at least one hour prior to washing.  I was very skeptical as I have tried tons of salon brand deep conditioners, oils (including the ultra FOBy Dabur Amla), and even Ojon, but my hair always fought back with even more frizz post-treatment.  I gave in, and bought the ingredients at my local Whole Foods store (also be sure to try your local Indian store).

      I have to say, this mixture is a miracle! The combination of the proteins in the almond oil and the natural humectants in the coconut oil work wonders on dry hair.   Additionally, the "almondoco" mixture also makes a great post-shower body moisturizer.  Happy hair and skin conditioning!

      Thursday, February 18, 2010

      HOTSPOTS: Pasadena for Cold-Dessertaholics

      I know its only February, but we have had our fair share of warm days, as such, I thought I'd share some of my favorite cold-treat spots in my favorite little town of Pasadena:
      • 21 Choices - an old classic, but the fact that they let you request flavors, like almond pistachio, (at least a day in advance) makes driving to Pasadena totally worth it...I know there's one near USC, but this location reminds me of my youth
      • Tutti Gelati - while I've tried one of the more mainstream gelato joints on Colorado; this one is a real treat because of the fact that they use totally pure ingredients 

      HOTSPOTS: Amazing new coffee house in LA

      I just found out about this really unique new coffee house called Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea.  They have a few locations in Chicago, Silver Lake, NYC, and Venice (Los Angeles).  Checking it out tomorrow...apparently they are starting some new locations in Pasadena (according to the LA Times Food section).  The unique thing about this coffee house is that they make extremely high quality teas and coffee, and you literally walk right up to your own barista stand to order.  I am hoping that the coffee will be similar in taste and quality to Illy, and other high quality European coffees.

      Here's a link to the Abbot Kinney/Venice location: http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/locations/view/Venice+Coffeebar

      Update: I visited Intelligentsia for coffee and dessert post a great dinner at Monsoon, and while their baked goods were running low, I did try the espresso over vanilla bean gelato (I think they call it an exlato) and had a great macchiato.  The space was positively amazing, and while it's very bare and minimalist, it's definitely much more cozy than your neighborhood chain coffee shop.

      Wednesday, February 17, 2010

      FITNESS: LA: Great Local Hikes

      Two hikes I recommend for beginner/intermediate level hikers are Topanga Canyon (stick to the Eagle Rock trail to start) in the Santa Monica Mountains and Temescal Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades.  Both are relatively challenging, have clean trails, and are easily accessible.  Here are a few links to both:
      Enjoy!

      DINNER: Meatballs with Parsley and Parmesan

      Ingredients:
      • 1 egg
      • 1/4 cup of fresh French breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs
      • 3 tbs of grated fresh grated Parmesan cheese
      • 1 1/2 tbs of olive oil
      • 1 1/2 tbs of fresh chopped parsley
      • 2 garlic cloves minced
      • salt and pepper to taste
      • 1 pound of lean ground beef
      Instructions:
      • Stir egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend.
      • Add ground beef and mix thoroughly.
      • Form mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
      • Pour enough olive oil into skillet to cover bottom and heat on medium-low heat.
      • Add meatballs and pan fry until cooked through.
      • Serve on top of whole wheat spaghetti or mix in sauce and serve.
      • Delicious!

      Monday, February 15, 2010

      BUILDING BLOCK: All Purpose Dough

      Serving Size: Varies on Use

      Ingredients:
      • 2 cups whole wheat flour
      • 2 tbsp olive oil
      • 1 cup water
      • 2.5 tsp yeast (optional)
      • Flax seeds (optional)
      Instructions:
      • Mix flour, and olive oil (yeast and flax as well if you like) in a mixing bowl
      • Add in water and hand knead or use mixer
      • Ensure that you allow the dough to sit for at least 20-30 minutes before using - preferably, allow the dough to chill for a few hours (and you can leave this in the freezer for future use)

      DESSERT: Lean, Mean Apple Cobbler

      Servings:9-12

      Ingredients:
      • 4 apples, peeled and diced 
      • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (whole wheat works just fine)
      • 4 tbsp agave sweetener (substitute: 1/2 cup brown sugar)
      • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
      • 4 tbsp lemon juice 
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
      • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (substitute: use the powder or allspice powder)
      •  Two sheets of rolled out all purpose dough
       Instructions:
      • Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
      • Put the apples in a large mixing bowl 
      • Mix one ingredient in at a time into the apples - be sure to mix in the flour last
      • Lay out 1st sheet dough at the bottom of a baking pan - ensure that it is thin
      • Layer apples over the first layer of dough - this layer should be about 1/2" thick
      • Layer second sheet of dough over the apples
      • Bake @400 degrees for 25 minutes
      • Remove from oven, cool, and serve alone, with low-fat whipped cream, or low-fat ice cream

      SNACKS: Peanut Butter Yogurt with Bananas

      Servings: 1

      Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt (try Trader Joe's non-fat, French Village yogurt)
        • Remember - flavored yogurts contain excess sugars, artificial flavors, and sometimes low amounts of cultures
      • 1 tbsp unsweetened peanut butter (crunchy or smooth work, try Trader Joe's Organic Peanut Butters or blend your own at your local health food store or Whole Foods)
      • 1/2 to 1 banana sliced horizontally (substitute: pineapple chunks, berries, or any other fruit)
      Instructions:
      • Blend the peanut butter and yogurt - it takes a minute or two, but stirring with a fork or spoon works 
      • Top with bananas or alternative fruit topping

      Sunday, February 14, 2010

      DESSERT: Easy Cake/Cupcake Cocoa Frosting

      Servings: Frosts 12 cupcakes or 1 small cake

      Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
      • 4 tbsp corn starch
      • 1/2 - 1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered)
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 2 cups non-fat/low-fat milk
      • 1 tbsp butter
      • 2 tsp vanilla extract
      Instructions:
      • Mix together cocoa, corn starch, sugar and salt
      • Add milk slowly and stir
      • Cook until thick (stovetop) stirring continuously
      • Add butter and vanilla
      • Cool, then spread
      • TIP: Use royal frosting over this smooth frosting to create designs, etc

      DESSERT: Low-Fat Cupcakes

      Servings: 12 cupcakes

      Ingredients:
      • 2 cups white flour
      • 1 cup white sugar or sugar substitute
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • ½ tsp salt
      • 1/2 cup skim milk
      • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
      • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (substitute: 1/2 cup of low-fat butter and you can omit the oil as well)
      • 1 egg
      • 2 egg whites (substitute: use three normal eggs instead of just egg whites - also, when you start mixing ingredients, you can beat in egg yolks first and add in beaten and peaked egg whites at the end to ensure a fluffy cupcake)
      • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
      Instructions:
      • Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
      • Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
      • Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
      • Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
      • Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
      • Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

      Saturday, February 13, 2010

      DINNER: Baked Parmesan Chicken

      Ingredients:
      • 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
      • 1/4 cup of light mayonnaise
      • salt and pepper to taste
      • 1 cups of breadcrumbs
      • 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
      • 1 tsp of garlic powder
      • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
      • 1 tsp of dried basil (optional)
      Instructions:
      • Lightly coat chicken with light mayo
      • Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, dried basil, salt and pepper together.
      • Coat chicken with breadcrumbs.
      • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until chicken is done.
      • Serve with pasta or salad or brown rice and steamed veggies.
      • Enjoy!

      DESSERT: Chocolate Mousse-Pudding (Salmonella safe)

      Serving Size: 4-6

      Ingredients:
      • 8 eggs
      • 1 tbsp sugar
      • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate (try the Trader Joe's 1 lb bar of dark chocolate)
      • 1 cup extra strong hot coffee (3 tsp of coffee per cup)
      • Orange peels or berries to garnish
      Instructions:
      • Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites
      • Beat the egg yolks
      • Break up chocolate and place it in a small oven-proof dish
      • Pour the coffee over the chocolate and put it in a hot oven to allow the chocolate to melt
      • Remove the chocolate from the oven and mix the chocolate and coffee until you have a smooth mixture
      • Whip the egg whites until they are foamy and hold soft peaks - add sugar half early on in your whipping process
      • Slowly add in the egg whites to the chocolate mixture
      • Stick the mousse back in the oven for 30 minutes @250 - this is a new step in the traditional mousse process to prevent salmonella
      • Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least a few hours in your bake-ware or in individual serving dishes

        DINNER: Almond-Crusted Tilapia

        Serving Size: 2-3

        Ingredients:
        • 1 cup almonds - cut into thin pieces
        • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
        • 2 tbsp brown sugar
        • 1 tablespoon ground bay leaves
        • 2 teaspoons celery salt
        • 1/2 tsp spice mix
          • ground black pepper
          • paprika
          • ground nutmeg
          • ground ginger
          • ground allspice
          • ground cloves
          • crushed red pepper flakes
          • ground cardamom
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 1 large egg 
        • 1 tbsp water
        • 1/4 cup flour
        • 1.5 pounds tilapia filets
        • salt and pepper
        Instructions:
        • Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
        • Lightly oil or coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
        • Combine the almonds, bread crumbs, brown sugar, spice mix, and salt in a shallow bowl. 
        • Beat egg and water in another bowl. 
        • Place the flour on a plate.
        • Season the fish with additional salt and pepper. To bread the fillets, coat both sides with flour and shake off excess. Dip in the egg and then coat evenly with the nut mixture.
        • Place each fillet on the baking sheet
        • Bake at 425 degree until for 15 minutes

        Friday, February 12, 2010

        DINNER: Steak Burritos

        Serving Size: 3-4

        Ingredients:
        • 1 pd sliced steak pieces (can use sirloin, top round, or even stewing beef)
        • 2 tomatoes chopped
        • 2 onions, diced
        • 2 red peppers, chopped
        • 2 green peppers, chopped
        • 2-3 green chiles (any kind will do - stick to the smaller ones: Serrano, Thai, etc), diced
        • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
        • 1 tsp black pepper
        • 1/4 tsp salt
        • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
        • 1 large avocado
        • 1 lemon, juiced
        • Low-Fat sour cream
        • Low-fat refried beans (either make them yourself or try the Trader Joe's Jalapeno Refried Beans)
        • Whole wheat tortillas (again Trader Joes has some great ones, but any whole wheat, lard-free ones will do)
        • Mexican Blend Cheese - try Trader Joe's lite version
        Instructions:
        1. Marinate the beef with 70% of the lemon juice, all of the salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and chile flakes - let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour
        2. Saute 80% of onions, green chiles for 3-5 minutes
        3. Stir in red (only 70% of red) and green peppers and 60% of tomatoes and let simmer for 2-3 minutes
        4. Add in beef and ensure that the mixture is fairly homogenous
        5. While the beef is cooking, prepare fresh guacomole and salsa
        6. Guacomole: blend avocado with red peppers, remaining lemon juice, and add in a dash of salt and pepper
        7. Basic salsa: mix onions, tomato, and a dash of salt and pepper
        8. When the beef is complete, set up a burrito line
        9. Heat tortillas straight over a gas oven or flip over a griddle
        10. Layer on all ingredients - you may want to layer the cheese first (before beef) or immediately after the beef.  Also - you can use the refried beans as a glue to hold the burrito shut

        DRINKS: Detox Juice

        Serving Size: 3-4

        Ingredients:
        • 3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
        • 1 tomato, chopped
        • frozen pineapple chunks - more the merrier
        • juice from 2 lemons
        • 2 oranges, peeled and seeds removed
        • 1/4 to 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
        • 2" x 1/4" piece of ginger, peeled
        • water as needed to thin juice to desired consistency
        Instructions:
        • Blend all ingredients
        • Enjoy

        SIDES: Garlic/Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

        Serving Size: 6-7

        Ingredients:
        • 2 pds peeled sweet potatoes cut into chunks
        • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
        • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
        • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
        • 2 tbsp olive oil
        • 1 tsp salt
        • 1 tsp black pepper
        Instructions:
        • Coat sweet potatoes with all ingredients except salt & pepper and parsley
        • Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes
        • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley before serving

        DESSERT: Skinny Pumpkin Pie or Mini-Pies

        pumpkin pie, lowfat pie, easy pumpkin pie
        Pumpkin pie is a quintessential fall treat.  For me, Thanksgiving isn't the same without it. This recipe has become a favorite with friends and family; it's incredibly easy to make and tastes great without all of the junk that will end up in your trunk.  One nice modification you can try is to bake the mixture in a muffin pan to create mini-pies.  Also, don't forget to create an easy crust for your pie/s.

        Serving Size: 1 pie + 6 mini-pies or 18 mini-pies

        Ingredients:
        • 1 16 oz can pumpkin (try Libby's - it's pure pumpkin with no added sugars or preservatives)
        • 2 eggs
        • 1-2 tsp vanilla
        • 1.5 tsp spice mix (1 tsp all spice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg) - note: you can omit all spice if you don't have it around
        • 1 tsp salt
        • 1.5 cups of milk
        • 3/4 cups of sugar (you can get away with using 1/2 cup)
        Instructions:
        • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
        • Mix spices and sugar together
        • Mix all additional ingredients together and add in sugar mixture at the end
        • Pour mixture into crust - fill up to crust line
        • Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes

        DESSERT: Easy Graham Cracker or Savory Cracker Pie Crust

        What is there not to like about a nice graham cracker crust?  It is the ideal crust type for pumpkin pies, chocolate mousse pies, and others.  You can easily create this great crust by simply crushing graham crackers and adding melted butter (or applesauce) and water.  Alternatively, you can create a savory crust with regular whole wheat crackers.

        Servings: 1 Pie Crust or 1 Dozen Mini-Pie Crusts

        Ingredients:
        • 1/2 to 3/4 package of graham crackers or regular crackers
        • 1/3 cup low-fat melted butter
        • 1/8 cup of water
        Instructions:
        • Crush graham crackers.  You can either stick the crackers in a food processor or dry blender or by placing the graham crackers in a zip lock back and rolling over the bag with a rolling pin or heavy can.
        • Pour melted butter and water over crumbs 
        • Mold into a uniform ball
        • Roll out into desired pie pan

        DESSERT: Royal Frosting

        Servings: Decorates at least 2 Dozen Cookies

        Ingredients:
        • 2 cups confectioners powdered sugar
        • 4 tbsp water
        • Optional: lemon or rosewater essence
        • Optional: food coloring
        Instructions:
        • Mix
        • Put mixture in pastry bag and decorate
        • Note: this is a fast dry and hard frosting used to do detailed decorating work (for Gingerbread men, etc) - work fast!

        DESSERT: Lean Gingerbread Men


        Servings: 1.5 Dozen Cookies

        Ingredients:
        • 1/4 cup low-fat butter
        • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
        • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or low-fat yogurt - try 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 regular)
        • 1 tsp vanilla
        • 1 egg
        • 1/3 cup dark molasses
        • 3 cups all purpose flour
        • 1 tsp baking soda
        • 2 tsp ground ginger powder (or freshly ground ginger)
        • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
        • 1/2 tsp allspice (if you don't have it, use cinnamon instead)
        • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
        Instructions:
        • Beat butter, brown sugar, applesauce, egg, and molasses together in a large bowl
        • Mix remaining ingredients
        • Pour into butter mixture and mix
        • Divide dough and let chill for 2 hours 
        • Roll out dough to 1/4" or 1/8" thickness
        • Use cookie cutter over rolled out dough and place gingerbread men on greased and floured cooking sheet or non-stick sheet
        • Continue to combine and roll out scraps until all dough is used
        • Bake 10-12 minutes @ 350 degrees
        • Decorate with Royal Frosting when cool