How to Naturally Sweeten Yougurt & Greek Yogurt

It’s a secret ingredient…and I’m sharing it with you today. I’ve developed this out of a need.. a need to help individuals find the right yogurt. Don’t get me wrong,  yogurt is great source of protein, calcium and probiotics (good for your stomach).  That’s why I love yogurt, devour it daily,  and  recommend it as a fast, casual meal or snack. However,  unless you eat it plain,   finding the right yogurt  is often a daunting task;  many store bought yogurts have as much as 24 grams or about 6 teaspoons of sugar.  So try my secret ingredent, to enjoy the yogurt goodness with less sugar…
Macerated Macerating fruit  increases the flavor, much like marinating meat. The honey draws out the liquid from the fruit, sweetens it and leaves a delicious syrup. Simply add 1/2 cup of fruit to a mason jar and then add 1 teaspon of honey. Let sit for as little as 15 minutes, or do ahead and refrigerate overnight. Add this to 6 oz of plain yogurt or Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoons of honey, to reduced the  added sugar by over half of what’s in most store bought yogurts. Stay tuned for my next post, I’ll  show you how I make a perfect  post recovery snack with Greek yogurt and my macerated grapefruit!IMG_1249

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Nutrition Experts Share the Love vi

Share_the_love_v_1_Today’s share the love post is a double dose! That’s because I’m plugging not one, but two impressive nutrition experts, Liz Weiss, MS,  RD and Janice Bissex, MS, RD.  These lovely ladies have teamed up to help busy families eat nutritious meals and snacks. They have an information packed blog Meal Makeover Moms Kitchen. Check it out for recipes  like this protein power breakfast parfait. They have penned two award winning cook books, No Whine with Dinner : 150 Healthy Kid Tested Recipes from the Makeover Moms ( M3 Press, 2011) and The Moms Guide to Meal Makeovers: Improving the Way your Family Eats one Meal at a Time (Broadway Books, 2004.) They go the extra mile promoting good nutrition with a radio podcast they host bi-weekly, Cooking With the Moms, (nominated By IACP as the best culinary Audio program of 2011).  I especially liked podcast #260 on prediabetes . With nearly 80 million Americans with prediabetes (and the number of individuals seeking nutrition counseling at Cape Fear Nutrition because of this condition), I believe this is the show someone out there is looking for.  Also, since I’ve  been discussing the benefits of distributing protein through out the day and the ten reasons you should care about muscle maintenace  let me  point out this informative podcast  tips for adding more protein to your diet.

I admire how the Makeover Meal Moms share the love and I want to share it with you.  Follow them on Twitter, Pinterest Instagram Facebook

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Savory Partners: Dark Chocolate + Granola with Za’atar

What’s your favorite healthy chocolate companion? According to the Chocolate Lover’s Club, it goes with just about anything and they reference some unusual combinations from seafood and cheese to roasted cauliflower.  Hmm.  Before I reveal my choice, I want to thank the Recipe Redux team for this timely February topic, because I’m using it to multitask (in a time management kinda way):

1. Believe it or not, it’s an inspiration for cleaning out my pantry. Yep, using up chocolate leftover from Valentine’s Day (as well as some other ‘nearly gone’ ingredients; what else can you do with 2 tablespoons of red quinoa anyway?)

2. And yes, I ‘m  trying to make amends for the Valentine’s Day Treat (no bake chocolate mousse) that didn’t score me any brownie points. Geeze.

Maybe ‘the man’ will like this…my favorite chocolate combination…

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dark chocolate + granola .  Here are the dry ingredients I used…

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So 2 tablespoons of this,  and a quater cup of that…. what a thrifty way to polish off small portions of pantry staples.  And at the last minute, I added what I now consider the secret ingredient ..za’atar.  Ever since I used this spice blend  in my Mediterranean Dip   I’ve been yearning to try it in granola. It’s an aromatic blend of sumac, sesame seeds, dried thyme, salt,  and other spices. The label states it goes best with lamb, chicken, fish and veggies. So, what about chocolate? It’s the bomb! Which means.. this month I’m one for one.  I’ll take it.  Ok, so now that I’ve got my family happily munching away on a delicious snack, how about nutrition? This is no more or no less healthier than most other granolas. Really. Close to 100 calories in 2 Tablespoons, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams protein, low in cholesterol , low in sodium and a very good source of manganese. So here’s the bottom line: if you like the taste of dark chocolate, and you want the heart healthy benefits of plant flavanols, please enjoy this one mindfully. Don’t forget to check out the links at the bottom of this post for more healthy chocolate pairings from my friends and colleague members of the Recipe Redux.

What’s your chocolate philosophy? Do you think it goes with everything?

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Dark Chocolate Granola with Za’atar

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (to make gluten free, gluten free label)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg white (omit for vegan)
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil (or coconut oil for paleo diet)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, broken into bite sized pieces

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Rinse quinoa and add to a medium bowl with the next four dry ingredients.

3. whisk egg white and oil and add to oat mixture along with honey and vanilla. Stir well to combine.

4. Spread oat mixture into a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. 5.Bake, stirring every 10 minutes until golden. (20-25 minutes)

6. Allow to cool completely befoe adding raisins and dark chocolate. Serve or store in an air tight container.

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Coping with Colder Weather: Cabin Fever Cardio Workout

Did you run today? Before the day is over, someone will ask me that. Perhaps wondering how brave  obsessive complusive I really am. After all, here’s what the weather looks like in my neck of the woods..photo-3-1

Yeah, I know this is nothing compared to what YOU  might be experiencing in other parts of the country, but it’s a far cry from the usual around here and it probably set some kind of cold weather record that will be forever documented in the history of this small town. So back to the original question, NO, this DID NOT HAPPEN ..

and look who is unhappyphoto-256… photo-257

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good news, tomorrow it will be 55 degrees F and we’ll be back pounding the pavement. But for today, here’s  my colder weather cardio workout  (in lieu of a routine 5 mile run accompanied by four legged creature above.) Start with light warm up of planks and core exercises like V sit BOSU Core passes . Then jump rope alternating with cycling. I  skip rope for 500 jumps alternating with 5 mintues of cycling on a stationary bike (resistance up) as fast as I can go. Repeat 5 times for a 40 minute cardio workout that should get your heart rate up. Is the weather cramping your style? How are you coping?

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Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

Days I’m out of the house until 7 pm are rare, but when they do occur, I am usually hungry when I walk through the door and want something to eat right away. It’s tempting to  do what I did in my twenties, pour dinner from a cereal box into a bowl, and call it a day. Now that I’m older, I like to think.. I’m wiser. Call it what you want, but honestly,  I’m a bit of a stickler for adhering to a schedule of protein intake that  helps my body maintain rates of protein turnover necessary to aid in the building and repair of tissue, as well as maintenance of muscle protein.  What’s the schedule?  Taking in 25-30 grams of high quality protein at each meal and paying attention to the interaction between protein and exercise (more on that in another post, I promise).

In case you’ve missed it, here’s one of my breakfasts, a savoy Dutch pancake.  And one of my lunches, a 5 minute citrus salad. Today’s post showcases one of my dinners. This slow cooked chicken tangine is prepped early in the day and put into a slow cooker. Vegetables are add in  during the last 30 to 60 minutes to keep from over cooking.   I love it because it packs in the necessary protein (key for my optimal health), and it’s savory good.
IMG_1083What do you think of when you think cinnamon?  I think of toast and lattes. But after making this savory slow cooked chicken tangine, seasoned with cinnamon, I’m seeing it from a different  perspective.
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Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, quatered
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

Instructions

1. Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken thighs and toss to coat evenly.

2. Add tomatoes and chicken broth to slow cooker. Top with seasoned chicken thighs. Cover slow cooker and set to high for 4 hours.

3. After 3 1/2  hours, stir contents in the slow cooker briefly and return lid. Add olive oil to a saute pan and cook shallots with garlic for about 5 minutes or until just turning brown. Add to slow cooker along with butternut squash, and dried apricots. Replace lid and continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

4. After cooking time is complete, place in a large casserole or other serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately with tricolored couscous.

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