I bought this fresh parsley while living in Vienna, Austria last fall, to flavor soups & salads.
Fresh Herbs Taste Great!
I speak from experience when I say that fresh herbs taste great! I use them frequently and generously in many tried-and-true, homemade recipes and I add them into first-time recipes, too. I grow fresh herbs in my sunny North Carolina garden so that I can cut, wash and toss them, immediately, into my cooking pot. Even now, in February, I have some fresh mint and fresh rosemary ready for harvest!
Fresh Herbs are Full of Good Nutrition!
There is every good reason to add a pinch or handful of fresh herbs to your next soup, chili, spaghetti sauce or salad. Why? Because of the concentrated flavor and the concentrated nutrition. In specific herbs, there are specific nutrients like vitamins A, C, K. And, in addition, there are a host of health-promoting phytochemicals. Here is a nice article about how to choose herbs for your health.
Take a Step Toward Healthier Nutrition in Your Kitchen!
Experimenting with a variety of fresh herbs in your recipes and meals is taking a step forward in creating a healthier home kitchen. So is learning about other simple and delicious ways to feed yourself and the entire family for good health – forever. Please LIKE my facebook page and join our lively discussion of fun, easy, healthy recipes and every day meal planning. Also, take a look at my menu and recipe booklets that come in a very affordable, 3-book bundle.
Ready to roast: sweet potatoes, parsnips, red and green Bell peppers and red onions.
Choose Any Veggies!
The first time I ate roasted veggies, it was a mix of sweet Bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. So, I repeated this combination with delicious results. Next, I branched out and started experimenting with other flavors, textures and colors. Now, I basically cut into chunks whatever I have on hand when the mood strikes for a tasty meal or side item of roasted veggies. You can do the same.
Roasted Rainbow Veggies Recipe!
This recipe offers sweet flavors of healthy vegetables. Kids can help by washing the veggies, stirring them up with oil and seasonings and scattering them on the pan, with supervision.
Makes 6 servings
2 medium Sweet potatoes, washed, skin left on
1 medium Onion, any kind
2 medium Yellow squash or zucchini squash, or one of each
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Wash all vegetables. Peel off outer skin of onion.
Preheat conventional oven to 425 degrees.
With a cutting board and knife, cut up vegetables into bite-size chunks. The onion may be cut in half and then sliced.
Place cut vegetables into a large bowl, add oil, salt and pepper. Stir so that everything becomes coated.
Scatter vegetables in a large baking pan or cookie sheet with sides, about 17 x 11 inches. Spread out in one layer.
Cook for 15 minutes. Using a spatula, turn over vegetables.
Cook another 10-15 minutes, until tender when poked with a fork. Do not overcook or veggies may become mushy.
Nutrition per serving: 90 calories; 4.5 gm fat; 0.5 gm saturated fat; 0 trans fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 40 mg sodium; 12 gm carbohydrates; 2 gm fiber; 2 gm protein; 150% DV vitamin A; 35% DV vitamin C; 22% DV calcium; 4% DV iron
Money Saving Tip: Use other vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus and butternut squash, when they are on sale.
In Vienna, Austria, even a tiny grocery store sells lots of healthy produce!
New Year’s Resolution Time!
Are you someone who makes a New Year’s Resolution? Me, too! I try to make positive improvements to myself and my lifestyle an ongoing process. January is a perfect time to start fresh & healthier eating is a worthwhile goal for your resolution! Here are some inspiring stories from real people for you to think about.
Need a Resolution? Try One of These!
1. I will eat one piece of fruit with my breakfast, every day.
2. I will drink low fat 1% or skim milk, or water, with my meals.
3. I will plan at least 3 home-cooked dinners every week, and I will follow through on my plans at the grocery store and in my kitchen.
3 Tips to Make Your Healthy Eating Resolution Stick!
1. Come up with a realistic goal. Make it specific. Write it down.
2. Keep track of your goal and how you are doing to achieve it. Use sticky notes around the house if it helps. Keep a daily record of your progress.
3. Think positively. You can reach your goal, gradually, with a positive attitude and determination to succeed. When you reach your goal, celebrate by telling your friends and family, then set a new goal.
Get On-Board for Healthy Nutrition & Feeling Great!
Now is the time — a New Year is the milestone – your personal nutrition & health is the reason! If you make a healthy eating resolution and stick to it, you will never look back. Trust me! For ongoing tips, recipe ideas and inspiration about your healthy eating resolution, join me on facebook or take a bold new step and purchase my ebook bundle for family-friendly menus, shopping lists and a handy collection of delicious and nutritious recipes. Happy New Year!
What is your secret to creating a healthier kitchen at home?
This colorful market in Vienna, Austria features cabbage, sweet peppers & spinach.
Thanksgiving is near and dear to my heart, and to my stomach. I adore the family focus of this all-American feast and the tasty foods it brings to the dinner table. In my family, before eating our feast, we go around the table and everyone says what they are thankful for. For me, this sets the mood for a wonderful evening together!
The Healthy Vegetables of Thanksgiving!
Vegetables make a great Thanksgiving even better. The colors, flavors and good nutrition add up to a feast for the eyes and a healthy body. Here are a few ideas for you, 2 per vegetable:
Cabbage: 1. Boil it in 1-2 inch wedges until tender, season with a little oil and caraway seeds; 2. Finely shred it, mix with shredded carrots and dress lightly with oil/vinegar/salt/pepper.
Sweet Peppers: 1. Remove seeds and roast in the oven at 400 degrees, in chunks, with a drizzle of oil and a favorite dry herb until tender; 2. Remove seeds and cut into thin strips, then toss with oil/vinegar/salt/pepper.
Spinach: 1. Trim off stems. Steam leaves on stovetop, drain excess water and sprinkle with grated lemon zest; 2. Trim stems. Make a salad with torn leaves plus one-bite tomatoes and capers. Dress with choice of light dressing.
The Giving Spirit of Thanksgiving!
While many of us will be eating a Thanksgiving feast this Thursday, many others will not. There are ways to give to those less fortunate at Thanksgiving, and getting kids involved with giving is also something to consider.
What vegetables will be at your healthy Thanksgiving feast?
Adding nuts to your shopping cart and your kitchen pantry is a smart idea for everyone, unless there are allergies in the family. When you buy nuts, think about other healthy pantry items, too. Join me on Facebook, subscribe to my E-newsletter and invest in my e-books for a healthier kitchen and a healthier life!
A colorful & fresh stirfry can be tomorrow's leftover dinner!
Make Leftovers Part of Your Plan
Planning meals will save you time and money and make it easier to eat healthy. You will probably feel less stress, too, as you drive home from work and know what’s for dinner. If you’ve never planned a leftover meal, then here’s how:
2. Write down the ingredients you need for the recipe, after checking your dry pantry, fridge and freezer to see what’s on-hand already.
3. Buy twice as much of each ingredient as you will need to serve your family the recipe for dinner.
4. Make a double-batch of your simple recipe.
5. Enjoy dinner and then put the leftovers into a covered container in your fridge. Enjoy your leftover dinner, gently reheated, 2 days later.
Grocery List for Spring Stir-Fry - shown above
Frozen uncooked shrimp; fresh asparagus; fresh zucchini; fresh red Bell pepper; onion; brown rice; stir-fry sauce made by mixing soy sauce with a small amount of sesame oil, minced fresh garlic and a pinch of brown sugar.
Kale is full of flavor and good nutrition and it's low in cost!
Get to Know Kale
Since mid-March, spring greens are popping out of the ground for us in the Southeast. I used to think kale was just a pretty, green garnish that showed up on my plate in a restaurant. But now I know – kale is nutritious, easy to cook, full of flavor and it fits perfectly into my homemade meals.
Kale Saute – Easy as 1,2,3
1. Buy a bunch of fresh kale, wash it in your sink and cut out the thick stems halfway up each leaf. Chop roughly.
2. Add 1 Tbsp oil and 1 tsp minced fresh garlic to a large pan on the stove. Pile the still-wet kale on top. Sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes and salt. Cover pan with a lid.
3. Turn stove burner on to medium heat. Listen for a little sizzle after 2-3 minutes and then set timer for 8-10 min. Using tongs, gently turn over kale every 2-3 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp water if it sticks. Enjoy with your meal.
Kale for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
1. Add sauteed kale to your breakfast omelet.
2. Enjoy a bowl of vegetable soup (homemade or not) with some added sauteed kale for lunch.
3. Include a generous portion of sauteed kale on your dinner plate.
Tomatoes, tomato puree or tomato paste add flavor and color to homemade soup!
Warming Up with Soup!
When I want to warm up, my ‘go to’ is soup. What about you? There are childhood favorites like chicken-noodle or beef and barley. There are more adult flavors like lentil soup or mushroom soup. But, no matter what meal or snack, soup can be your healthy and delicious solution!
January is Soup Month!
January is Soup Month and that means it’s time to get out your pot and ladle. Soup can come in a can, but it can also be made easily with a few basic staple foods on hand. It’s a great time to step out, armed with your soup staples and reap the tasty, warm benefits.
Citrus Tops the List!
There are some truly fresh flavors that cost little and go a long way to perk up home cooked meals. In my kitchen, citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes top the list.
Citrus & Good Nutrition!
You might know that one big nutritional feature of citrus fruits is its vitamin C. What you might not know is that citrus fruits are an excellent source of fiber, potassium and they are low in calories. One orange, for example, has about 80 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 150% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C. The same orange also has about as much potassium as a banana. Now, that’s what I call a healthy choice!
Citrus & Meal Solutions! Breakfast – Cut or peel a sweet citrus fruit such as a pink grapefruit, orange, tangelo or Clementine and add it to any breakfast. Or, squeeze any sweet citrus fruit for a delightful glass of juice. Lunch – Squeeze a tart citrus fruit onto a leafy green salad, Chef’s salad or tuna salad at lunch time. Dinner – Grate the zest (outer skin) of your favorite citrus fruit into an oil/vinegar/soy sauce marinade and use it on fish, poultry or lean beef, then grill, for dinner.
Growing Citrus at Home!
There’s nothing more satisfying and delicious than eating your own home-grown citrus. Meyer lemon trees can be grown in a container or the ground, depending on climate. In North Carolina, the container is a practical solution ~ place your tree in the sunshine from spring through fall, then bring it inside for the winter months. What fun!
The color green comes to mind when I think about salad. What about you? Do you start a salad with Romaine, spinach or leaf lettuce? Do you use shredded green cabbage? Typically, crispy greens are at the center of my tossed salad, so I was surprised by this All American Salad recipe. Who knew there could be such an interesting variety of colors, textures and flavors?
Exploring the Possibilities
Salads are easy to put together in the kitchen. Kids, teens and adults can put their own ‘spin’ on their salad creations. And, if eaten the next day, salads are tasty leftovers. Keep an open mind when you’re preparing a salad because sometimes the most weird combinations are the most successful – for good nutrition, fresh flavors and eye appeal.
Salad Combinations to Try
1. Shredded carrots with raisins, shredded almonds, fresh chopped parsley and a splash of vinaigrette dressing.
2. Cooked and cut-up potatoes, chopped celery, chopped red Bell pepper, chopped fresh dill and a creamy yogurt dressing.
3. Sliced fennel, chopped sweet onions, chopped fresh basil (or dried Italian herbs) and a fresh lemon + olive oil dressing.
Help for a Healthier Kitchen
Everyday tips and ideas for your meals, snacks and kitchen pantry are easy to find. Simply LIKE my facebook page and join the conversation. You’ll be glad you did!
Appetizers are a fun start to any holiday meal. Tasty and light are the best choices because they whet the appetite without going overboard in calories that fill you up. The simplest appetizer is a colorful, crunchy and fresh platter of veggies or fruits that satisfies everyone’s hunger as the turkey finishes cooking.
Kids of all ages love to dip and opting for easy and homemade dips is a smart strategy. This is because dips that are pre-made typically are fatty and loaded down with calories. Here is a cucumber-yogurt dip, a guacamole dip and a creamy herb dip. Try them for a ton of flavor and healthier ingredients.
Whatever your tradition, be sure to take time, slow down and savor the flavors of your meal plate at Thanksgiving. In case you’re wondering, there are advantages to eating more slowly – at a holiday meal and everyday.
There are awesome advantages to cooking from simple and nutritious ingredients in your own kitchen. For example, the flavors are tasty, the nutrition reflects your ingredients and everyone appreciates a meal together. Here’s an easy recipe for you!
Peppers & Lean Beef Recipe
Ingredients: 1-1/2 lb round steak (beef or venison); 2 T. oil; 1 green pepper; 1 large can diced tomatoes; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/2 t. garlic powder; 1/2 t. black pepper; 1/2 t. ground ginger; 1 cup beef broth or water; 2 T. cornstarch
Directions: Trim fat from steak. Slice into thin, 2-3 inch strips. Wash green pepper, remove core and seeds, slice into thin, 2-3 inch strips. Add oil to a large, heated skillet over medium high heat. Add meat and cook, stirring, for 5-7 min. until medium-rare. Add green pepper and cook 3-4 min. longer, stirring. Reduce heat and add all remaining ingredients except broth (or water) and cornstarch. Simmer with a lid for 10 min. With a whisk, mix together broth (or water) and cornstarch well. Add to pepper & beef mixture, stirring to make a smooth sauce. Simmer 10 more minutes to thicken, stirring a few times.
A Balanced Meal: Serve Peppers & Lean Beef over cooked brown rice with a leafy green salad on the side and cut-up fruit for dessert.
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Power-up with good nutrition for a successful year!
Good Nutrition Essentials for Back-to-School
Kids’ bodies run best on nutritious foods – as do adult’s. Kids feel better when they are pleasantly full – as do adults. Kids like to eat with family and friends – as do adults. Get the point? We all thrive on good nutrition in moderate portions eaten with those we care about.
2. Get the family together for meals at home – Put a quick breakfast and home-cooked dinner on the meal table as often as you can. Simple combinations of basic foods will nourish everyone best and keep cleanup reasonable.
3. Be a healthy-eater role model – Lead by example, every day and every meal. It’s as easy as sharing an apple while helping your child with homework or pouring a glass of 1% low fat milk for everyone at the dinner table.
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Can you believe that 1/3 of all Americans skip breakfast? Are you one of them? Are your kids? If breakfast is a hard meal to ‘muster’ in your household then listen up for some nutritious and delicious options. Because…breakfast is a most important meal of the day!
Thinking out of the (cereal) box is a good starting point for breakfast. There are many, many options and no rules about what to put on your plate. Maybe traditional morning foods don’t excite your taste buds and that’s OK. Choose what’s appealing with good nutrition to power you, and yours, every morning.
Breakfast Combinations to Try
1. Black beans with ready-to-serve brown rice + sliced tomato and/or avocado + fresh peach + 1% milk
2. Ready-to-serve brown rice + scrambled or fried egg + fresh apple + 1% milk
3. Walnuts and diced peach or nectarine + low fat yogurt + ‘light’ or homemade granola + tea/coffee
4. Hard boiled egg + black beans + cabbage-tomato salad + 1% milk
5. Cottage cheese + pineapple tidbits + crunchy granola bar + 1% milk or yogurt
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Do you set expectations for meals and snacks that are too high? Does your grocery cart overflow with foods that are perishable and/or require a lot of fancy preparation? Too often, do you end up throwing away half your perishables and not making that special recipe, wasting food and money?
Get Simple. Eat Well. Save Money.
1. Focus your menu. Build a week’s menu around 5 simple foods like cantaloupe, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, skinless chicken thighs and instant brown rice. Remember, grocery shopping can be fun!
2. Plan to eat well. Make whole chicken thighs on the grill with a pinch of mixed dried herbs and garlic powder. Or, stir them in a skillet with the fresh peas, a splash of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. Get the rice cooking so that it will be done on time. Cut up the cuke and drizzle it with oil and vinegar.
3. Save money. Plan very carefully before buying perishables like meat, chicken, fish, milk, fruits and vegetables. Write down when and how you will use them up – before they spoil. Thin out other foods you keep in the kitchen. Buy simple foods and store brands every shopping trip.
Just last week, America was introduced to a new concept of nutritious eating. The Choose My Plate concept replaces My Pyramid and the Food Guide Pyramid. The picture is new, yes, though the importance of putting together a simple plate for good health is not.
Three Simple Tips to Eat Well with Choose My Plate
1. Strive for balance in your meal. This means to include a variety of protein, whole grain carbohydrates and healthful fats.
2. Cover half your meal plate with fruits and vegetables with a goal of staying out of a rut. Be courageous and try everything.
3. Think carefully about your drink. Go for water, 1% milk or a decaffeinated choice.
In NC, strawberry season arrives in May. Just think of all the opportunities to include a sweet treat like fresh, local strawberries in your meals and snacks – it is definitely a long list. Adding strawberries is truly a smart idea, for flavor and great nutrition.
Nutrition Features of Strawberries
The simple truth is that strawberries ‘rock’ for good nutrition. One cup of berries cut into halves provides 3 times the daily requirement for vitamin C + 3 grams of fiber + health-enhancing antioxidants + only 50 calories. By anyone’s standards, this is one very healthy choice.
Meal Planning Opportunities with Strawberries
If you think that including fruits such as strawberries into your weekly meal plan is wise, then you are absolutely correct! In fact, never overlook the opportunity to add fruits and veggies into breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is the simplest way to build a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Go ahead … start today with strawberries!
It is a challenge for most of us to choose nutritious foods day-after-day. Time gets in the way ~ planning, or lack of it, gets in the way ~ life gets in the way.
There are excellent reasons to make nutrition a top priority for you and your busy family. Good health depends on it ~ feeling great depends on it ~ enjoying life depends on it.
A Call to Action…
It’s Nutrition Month and everyone can benefit from making healthy choices in the grocery store and on their meal plate. Make it a family project to write a menu plan, organize that shopping list, create a tasty recipe and put a colorful meal on the family table. You’ll be so glad you did!
It’s time to get it together and eat meals with the family. Think of the fun…the homemade flavors…the time for relaxing. Not only that, but there is solid evidence that families who eat together are eating more nutritiously. And, kids in these families are learning all kinds of positive behaviors — everything from getting better grades in school to respecting the cook and the Earth in their daily lives.
Cookbooks Give You a Plan
Don’t be without a trusted cookbook when you are making your family dinner plan. Two favorite cookbooks of mine are written by my friend, Aviva Goldfarb, and are pictured at the right. I recommend both.
Tips for Successful Family Dinners
A few of Aviva’s tips are these:
1. Take the time to plan dinners for the week before you go to the supermarket.
2. Keep a grocery list somewhere in the kitchen where everyone can reach it so anytime a family member finishes an item they can add it to the list.
3. Keep meals simple and healthy, especially for weeknights when time is very tight. Save more complicated recipes for the weekend or when the kids are grown!
4. Make family dinners a habit and make sure all family members contribute by helping to cook, set the table, plan the menu and/or clean up.
Now, please leave a comment with a tip or two from your experiences at the family meal table!
There are New Year’s resolutions swirling in most of our heads this week. A rigorous, daily exercise routine? An earlier bedtime? A healthier meal plan? What did you choose for 2011? All healthy lifestyle resolutions are great as long as you don’t try to tackle too much. One (1) resolution, carefully selected and in line with your health goals, is plenty. Repeat, one(1) is the best starting point.
Fresh catch = healthy meal
If you choose a healthier meal plan to start the New Year, then my vote goes to adding fish to your family’s table. If you’re afraid to cook fish, then it’s time to confront your fear because the nutrition of fish is really worth it. Take a look at these one-minute, how-to videos about cooking fish from frozen because it’s a snap. Cooking fresh fish is just as easy, by similar methods as on the videos.
Three features of fish nutrition:
Fish is loaded with high quality protein
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna or catfish are loaded with ‘good fat’ called omega-3
Canned fish like tuna and salmon are loaded with calcium(so eat the soft bones)
Fish helps add great variety to a family meal plan. A few of my favorites are canned tuna, frozen tilapia and fresh salmon. But, don’t stop there. Try others like cod, mahi mahi, flounder, snapper, sardines, trout, bass and herring, too.