Visit Skinnytaste.com for my guest post!

 

(photo credit: Sarah Fennel)

Good morning. I’ve got HUGE news! My recipe, Enchilada Chicken Roll-Ups (see above), is featured on the Skinnytaste blog TODAY! CHECK IT OUT!

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had the absolute honor and privilege of working with Skinnytaste author Gina Homolka (and advising dietitian Heather K. Jones, RD) for the past few years.  I help with nutrition analysis, recipe proof reading and meal planning for the cookbooks and do some recipe development for the Skinnytaste blog.  Crazy, right?!?!

I absolutely love Gina and her blog.  For those who aren’t familiar, her motto is, “Delicious healthy recipes from my family to yours”.  And boy is she right.  Her recipes are healthy and delicious.  They appeal to kids and adults alike.  She has a magic touch when it comes to packing in flavor and nutrition without making you feel deprived or like you’re eating “diet” food.

Her recipes work because they are easy to follow, use easy-to-find ingredients and promote portion control (though if you need a higher calorie meal, you can double the recipes ;)).  She incorporates her culture, tradition and travels into her recipes all while keeping things familiar and family friendly.  Oh, and her photographs will leave you wiping drool off your face.

Don’t just take it from me.  Both cookbooks are NY Times Best Sellers and her most recent book, Fast and Slow, was nominated for a James Beard Award!

So add her to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest feeds, email, etc. to get her latest recipes and updates.  I promise, you’ll love it.  And you may just see something that I helped create.

If you don’t have the Skinnytaste Cookbooks yet, you can get them on Amazon:

  • The original Skinnytaste Cookbook HERE.
  • Skinnytaste Fast and Slow HERE

She also has a Meal-Planner which you can get HERE

Cooking Tool Thursday: OXO Pineapple Corer

​I love pineapple.  It’s beautiful flesh provides the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It can be eaten straight up, grilled, in a salsa, in cake, muffins, and more.  Plus, it’s loaded with Vitamin C and (trace mineral) Manganese, both of which are potent antioxidants. It also contains an enzyme that may help reduce inflammation and aid in digestion. Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am.

The one somewhat annoying thing about pineapple is it can be a pain in to cut.  Yes, I could buy it pre-cut but it costs more ($5 vs. $3 at my local Vons, for example), quality can be iffy and frankly, I’m just not a fan of pre-cut produce.  I could buy it canned but like all canned fruit, it’s mushy and tastes a bit tinny.

Enter the OXO Pineapple Corer.

It is the coolest thing since sliced bread.  Better yet, it has drastically increased the amount of pineapple we eat. It takes less than a minute to pry the luscious yellow flesh out of it’s spiky skin and even less time to get into your mouth.  Check out my amateur video to see how this baby works!  Then see my tip below on how to buy and store pineapple.

Blown away? Buy the OXO Pineapple Corer HERE!

How to buy and store pineapple: Pick one that is already ripe (fresh, sweet scent, bright green leaves and some yellowing of the skin) because it will not continue to ripen once picked.  If you aren’t planning on eating it for a couple days, put it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Once cut, store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

 

 

 

 

Sundays with Samantha: Ice Cream in a Bag


A few years ago, my kids and I did a 3 day summer “adventure” class together.  Mondays we went to a local park, Wednesdays we went on a field trip and Fridays we went to a local beach.  It was awesome.

On one of the “park” days, our teacher taught us how to make ice cream.  She gave us the ingredients (cream, milk, sugar, salt, ice), materials (Ziploc bags), and instructions, and we were churning homemade ice cream in no time.  It was such a blast, for both the kids AND adults. And the best part was…we got to eat ice cream.  That we made.  In a bag.  At the park.

What’s the point of this story?.?.?

Well…THIS video and recipe called “Ice Cream in a Bag” (from Tastemade) recently showed up in my feed.  I, of course, had to share it with you. Check it out HERE.

Favorite Recipe Friday: Dutch Baby

Dutch babies hold a special place in my heart ♥.  My mom used to make them for us as a kid and any day that started with a Dutch baby was a good day.  These fluffy, souffle-like pancakes are so simple to make (kids can do it), require few ingredients, 1 bowl, and a whisk.  That’s it.   These babies are beautiful, delicious and the perfect vehicle for a mound of fresh fruit.

When I started making them for my kids, I initially used this NYTimes Food recipe.  It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I thought it had a bit too much butter and I wanted to add a little more flavor.  The great thing about Dutch babies is they are versatile like that.  Feel free to play around with it yourself.  They’re pretty forgiving.

Here is my version of the amazing, the beautiful…Dutch Baby.  Make it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Heck, make it as a snack.  These babies don’t discriminate.

Dutch Baby

Serves 4

Adapted from: NYTimes Food

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh mixed berries (or any other fresh fruit)

Juice from ¼ lemon

Powdered sugar, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and starting to foam.  Add flour, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.  Whisk until just combined.

Place butter in a medium oven-proof skillet or metal pie dish.  Place in oven and allow butter to melt (keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn).  Pour batter into skillet/dish, return to oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes.

Top with fruit and a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Per serving: (1/4 pancake)  Calories: 220  Total Fat: 10.5 g  Saturated Fat: 5.5 g  Cholesterol: 158 mg  Sodium: 85 mg  Carbohydrates: 24 g  Dietary Fiber: 2 g  Total Sugars: 10 g  Protein: 8 g

 

Wild Card Wednesday: 5 ways to improve your eating habits TODAY

Credit: @bexbex6


I am a firm believer in moderation.  Nothing is completely off-limits in my book.  BUT, if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight, lose weight and/or live an overall healthy lifestyle, there are some realistic steps you can take to help you get there and STAY there. And being healthy isn’t just about how much you weigh.  It’s about providing your body with the right fuel it needs to function and limiting the things that do the opposite.

These 5 tips will allow you to splurge more often, feel less guilt when you do and help you make more informed decisions when it comes to food, exercise and healthy living.

  1. Cook.  Yes, I know I sound like a broken record but seriously, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.  It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal.  It can be as simple as  throwing some chicken on the grill, roasting some veggies or scrambling some eggs (all of which require little more than oil, salt and pepper). If you eat at home, you are in control and portion sizes tend to be much more reasonable.  Conversely, if you eat out often, you are without-a-doubt getting far more calories, fat, and salt than you’d get in a homemade version of the same thing (even if you are cooking with butter, salt and/or sugar).  In particular, if you frequently go to chain restaurants (like Chili’s, Applebee’s, Cheesecake Factory, etc.) you can guarantee you’re getting 1,000+ calories and an entire day’s worth of sodium in just 1 entrée.
  2. Make small changes.  Think about your eating habits and where you could use improvement.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations  like cutting entire food groups or swearing off sweets forever (unless you have a medical condition that requires such restrictions). Rather, limit your portions and choose healthier options.  For example, if you love cheese on your sandwich, slice it thin, opt for reduced-fat versions or if you are a frequent sandwich eater, like yours truly, add cheese every OTHER time.  Or, if you must have something sweet after dinner (again, yours truly), save premium ice cream for a special occasion and opt for a small piece of good quality dark chocolate or frozen yogurt. Baby steps people, baby steps.
  3. Read nutrition labels.  You don’t have to be calorie conscious to read labels.  And don’t assume because the front of the label makes health claims like “made with whole grain” or “reduced fat” it’s a slam dunk.  Food companies are smart.  They OFTEN sneak in extra sugar, salt, fillers and other not-so-great ingredients to compensate for the “healthy” upgrades.  And, there are often artificial sweeteners and dyes in products that you would never expect.  For example, did you know that many jarred pickles have artificial dye in them?  Same with Life cereal. Or that whole wheat versions of some English muffins have artificial sweeteners (probably to make it appear healthier)?  Again, these things won’t kill you in moderation but you would NEVER know it’s in there without reading the label.  And, especially now-a-days, when there are SO many food companies competing for your business, it’s so important to be pro-active and read the label before you decide what to purchase.
  4. Move.  You don’t have to kill yourself for hours at the gym, run a marathon or become the next beach body. Though, serious kudos to those who have the time and energy for that.  But, if you are like me, with little time for exercise (unless I wake up at 5 am or work out at 9 pm, both of which aren’t gonna happen) you have to  take any opportunity you’ve got to get up and move.  Aim for at least a 20-30 of moderate exercise, 5 days a week.  If you can do more, by all means, do it.  And if you are trying to loose weight, you will need to increase the intensity and time.  If you sit at a desk all day, set a timer and get up and walk around at least 1 time an hour.
  5. Don’t starve yourself.  Skipping meals can reek havoc on your metabolism.  If it’s not busy digesting food, it starts to slow down.  Which, if your trying to loose weight, is the exact opposite you want to happen.  Not to mention, you are way more likely to make poor decisions at the next meal time, your energy level is low, it’s harder to concentrate AND you’ll probably loose friends because you’re always hangry.  If you are constantly on the go, make sure you keep healthy snacks nearby.  HERE are some of my favorite snacks I like to grab on my way out.

Getting to a healthier you is not limited to these 5 things but you’ve got to start somewhere. Try skipping the quick fix fad diets and incorporate more realistic changes into your daily life.  Change takes time but if you stay patient, keep your eye on the prize and respect your body (after all, it’s the only one we’ve got), you’ll be one step closer to reaching your goals.

Go you! ♥

Cooking Tool Thursday: Casabella Cherry Pitter

Hallelujah!  It’s cherry season!  I love cherries because they are delicious, nutritious (high five for Vitamin C and A) and such a treat.  What I don’t love about cherries though, are the pits that are wedged deep within this glorious fruit.

I have a sooolllution!

THIS Casabella Cherry Pitter.  I love this tool because it seamlessly removes the pits from  cherries with the push of a button.  Even more awesome, the cherry is left beautifully intact (which is a bonus if you want to use them whole in say, a pie or a fruit salad).  Plus, if you are a mom or dad (or anyone who takes care of kids), you know how frustrating it can be to try to pry those suckers out with a knife.  And if you leave them in, then your child inevitably regurgitates the fruit back into your hand in attempt to spit out the pit.  Not awesome.

So, if you want to see how it works, check out my (very first) video HERE.

AND if you want to buy it (which, I know you do), click HERE to get it on Amazon.