Chicken Salad…YUM!

21 Mar

Spring is here! Well, sort of. It sure didn’t feel like spring this morning when I woke up to 45 degree weather. One of my favorite dishes to kick off the warmer season is chicken salad. It’s great because you can make it in bulk and eat off of it for a few days, making it convenient for all of you that dread cooking every day. My favorite recipe is actually from my parents restaurant they used to own. It is refreshing, delicious and so easy to make! To add some flare (and added nutrition!) I scooped my serving onto an avocado I sliced in half, but you can always have a traditional chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat bread or put it on top of a salad.Image I always add ingredients and do a taste test, so the following is a rough estimate. Bon Appetit!

In a large bowl, combine:
1 pound chopped chicken breast (I use rotisserie chickens a lot for added convenience!)
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon green onion
1/4 cup red grapes
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt/pepper to taste

 

Cucumber Feta Dip

3 Feb

cucumer feta dip

Are you heading out to a Super Bowl party this afternoon and don’t have a clue what to make? This cucumber feta dip is easy, quick and delicious!

Mix the following ingredients together:

  • 2 cups Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely chopped, and squeezed dry in a kitchen towel
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Serve with toasted pita, crackers or fresh veggies. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Oat Energy Bites

15 Jul peanut butter bites

I was recently visiting a friend in Boston who is a new mommy. We spent the weekend catching up, laughing, and of course admiring her handsome little boy. During one of our conversations about her new life with a newborn, she mentioned how much she would enjoy a simple recipe for a snack she could have ready to go for those days when she needs a little boost of energy.  These no-cook peanut butter and oat energy bars that I found on The Cilantropist came to mind and they are A-mazing! Loaded with protein, whole grains, and just enough sugar to give you that punch of energy to get you through your day, these little bites of goodness are sure to please your grumbling tummy. Try them out – they take no time to make and the entire family will love them!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (or more) dried cranberries, roughly chopped*
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure to evenly distribute all the ingredients.  Take some of the dough and press it together between your hands – if it sticks together well, it is ready to go, if it feels too dry then add a bit more peanut butter or honey.  Likewise, if it is too ‘wet,’ add some extra oats or flax.  

To form the dough into a small bite, use a spoon or a cookie scoop to portion out the dough, squeeze it between your hands, and then gently roll it into a ball.  This amount of dough makes 12 bites that are about 2 inches in diameter.  Store the bites in an airtight container, and keep them refrigerated until eating.  Bites will keep for 1-2 weeks refrigerated.

UPDATE (1/22/13)
***My Grandmother stumbled across a better way to make these! Instead of forming them into bite sized balls, press the mixture into a square pan (I line mine with wax paper so they won’t stick), refrigerated, then cut them into squares. A lot less mess!!***

Intense Fitness Training

8 May video

Back in February, my colleagues and I spent about 6 hours doing a fitness video shoot (check out the picture above to see what it looked like behind the scenes!). Trust me when I say it was a LONG day! The result was worth it though and it is finally ready! We hope it inspires you to take your fitness to the next level and to get out there a sweat a little bit every day.

Check it out HERE

Let me know what you think!

Cocoa Fudge Cookies

5 Feb Cocoa Fudge Cookies

Don’t head off to your Super Bowl party today without first making these! Weighing in at 78 calories per cookie (recipe makes 24 cookies), these will satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt.  Have a great time wherever you are headed to watch the game today!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Super Bowl Appetizer – Bean Dip!

1 Feb photo(4)

Looking for a dip for Super Bowl Sunday that’s not going to make your jeans bust at the seams? Cooking Light never lets me down – This “opposing sides” bean dip is delicious, easy, and might even steal the show!

Ingredients:
1 (16-ounce) can Great Northern beans, drained

1/2 cup chopped onion, divided

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 small garlic cloves, divided

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1/4 cup sliced green onion tops

  1. Combine the Great Northern beans, 1/4 cup chopped onion, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 garlic clove in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon white bean mixture into a bowl on one side; set aside.
  2. Combine the black beans, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 garlic clove, chiles, and cumin in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon black bean mixture into other side of bowl containing white bean mixture.
  3. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and green onions between 2 bean dips.

I’m going to serve this with whole wheat pita chips – cut a whole wheat pita into triangles, sprinkle a little bit of salt and pop it under the broil for a couple of minutes.

Let me know what you think, and check back for another great recipe for the big game!

Greek Yogurt Dip/Spread

20 Jan yogurt dipping sauce

Lucky for me, my husband Scott is an amazing cook. The other day I was looking for something in the fridge to spice up my sandwich and he whipped up this delicious (and super easy) Greek yogurt sauce. It. Is. AWESOME! I made a pita (shown in the picture) with turkey, the yogurt sauce, hummus, green peppers, spinach, and avocado. We had some leftover so today I added it to the leftover chicken from last night to make chicken salad (I’ll post that recipe next week!) It is even great as a dip for veggies if you need a mid afternoon snack or a dish to bring to a party this weekend. Trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed!

Mix the following ingredients together and enjoy!
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tblsp chopped parsley
1 tblsp chopped mint
1 clove minced garlic
2 tblsp chopped cucumber
1 tspn lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Hot sauce (optional)

Cure Your Cold, Naturally

16 Jan Hot tea

We’re in the midst of the dreaded cold and flu season. There is nothing worse – runny nose, throbbing head, sore throat, coughing and chills….but this year don’t let it get the best of you. I found 10 natural ways to cure my cold here, and they are sure to help the symptoms associated with the common cold. Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Zinc
This essential mineral boosts the immune system and has been linked to a decrease in viral activity. In fact, a landmark 1996 study of 100 adults at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, found that people who sucked 6-8 zinc lozenges a day felt relief from their colds in 4.4 days, compared with 7.6 days for those taking a placebo.

How to use it: Take 15-30 milligrams in lozenge form at the first sign of a tickly throat, runny nose or fatigue, says Fred Pescatore, M.D., an integrative physician and president of the International and American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists. “The lozenge works better than a pill form because it’s at the site of the viral action,” he says. “Suck on one every couple of hours until you feel better.” Stay away from zinc-based nasal sprays, which could damage sensitive olfactory nerves and cause a loss in your sense of smell.

2. Echinacea
Derived from the purple coneflower family, this herb is a powerful cold fighter, according to a 2007 University of Connecticut study. In a review of 14 clinical trials involving about 3,000 people, researchers found that echinacea cut the risk of catching a cold by 58% and reduced the cold’s stay by almost 1-1/2 days. However, you should only use it for prevention because once you have the cold or flu, you’re out of luck.

3. Vitamin C
Found in many fruits and vegetables (such as oranges, red peppers and broccoli), vitamin C has long been thought to reduce risk of illness.

A 2007 review by the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit organization that analyzes health care studies, found that vitamin C taken after a cold had started didn’t make a difference: The cold lasted as long and was as severe. But if taken both before and during a cold, it shortened the viral illness’s duration in adults by 8%.

The powdered drink Emergen-C is a great choice. Each packet has 1,000 mg of vitamin C, plus electrolytes. Drink it daily over the course of the cold or flu.

4.  Honey
Honey, made from flower pollen and enzymes in bee saliva, has antioxidants and antiviral and antibacterial properties – all of which make it a top cold-fighter. Antioxidants in honey – all kinds – may also boost the immune system.

A 2007 Pennsylvania State University study found that in 105 children with upper respiratory infections, those taking honey had a 40% improvement in their coughs and restless sleep compared to untreated children.

Try adding two tablespoons of honey to a cup of warm, boiled water or green tea, Klimenko says. Add a squirt or two of lemon for a boost of vitamin C. 

5.  Chicken soup
It’s soup the way your grandmother made it: golden broth, chicken, carrots and onions. Its effectiveness isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Both the chicken and vegetables inhibit inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which causes coughs and congestion, according to a 2000 study at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Also, chicken soup contains an amino acid that acts like the drug acetylcysteine, which is used to treat bronchitis and other lung ailments. 

6. Ginger tea
The gnarly root of the ginger plant contains compounds called gingerols that attack pain, inflammation, germs and viruses.  When you have a cold or flu, you need fluids, and ginger tea is a nice way of getting them without a lot of added sugar.

How to use it: To soothe a sore throat, steep two teaspoons of shredded ginger in a cup of hot water (if you prefer something cool, use a cup of sparkling water). Drink 2-3 cups a day.

7. Steam and Eucalyptus Oil

Ever drain a pot of pasta and feel your nose drip? Steam is a surefire way to clear a stuffy nose. Although it doesn’t kill cold or flu viruses, “steam opens the sinuses and airways so you can breathe better,” Klimenko says. For an added bonus, add 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil to the steaming water, make a tent over your head with a towel and inhale the steam for 5 minutes. A 2009 study by the University of Heidelberg in Germany found that eucalyptus oil reduced viral infection — the source of colds and flu — in a test tube by 96% by deactivating virus particles.

You can also set up a humidifier in your bedroom, which may help you sleep better, or fill your bathroom with steam by running a hot shower or bath, she says.

The information contained here is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for advice from your doctor or healthcare professional. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition. Information and statements provided by this site about dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk.

Exercising When Sick: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

10 Jan sick

Have you finally committed to your new exercise routine and are now feeling set back by a cold or the flu? What should you do?

The answer depends on what ails you.  For example, exercising with a cold may be OK, but if you’ve got a fever, hitting the gym is a definite no-no. Raising your internal body temperature if you already have a fever can put you at risk for a more serious illness.

A general guide for exercise and illness is exercise is usually OK if your signs and symptoms are all above the neck (runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, minor sore throat). Exercising with these symptoms may help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion. However, consider reducing the intensity and length of your workout or you may feel worse (instead of going for a run, take a brisk walk) and be sure to stay hydrated.  If your symptoms are below the neck (chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach) or you have a fever, widespread muscle aches, or feel fatigued, skip the workout and get some rest.

Let your body be your guide. If you have a cold and feel miserable, take a break. Scaling back or taking a few days off from exercise when you’re sick won’t be a huge set back. Resume your normal workout routine gradually as you begin to feel better. If you’re not sure if it’s safe to exercise, ask your doctor.

If you’re still having trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym, keep this in mind. Exercise in general can help boost your body’s natural defenses against illness and infection, and often can cut the number of days you feel sick in half!

Stay tuned for natural cold and flu remedies!

Happy New Year!

31 Dec new year

I’m sure many of you are finalizing your plans for one of the biggest holiday parties of the year and deciding what this year’s New Year’s resolution will be, and I’d venture to say the majority of resolutions are to lose weight. Keep your goals in mind tonight and remember that with a little planning, you can avoid diet disaster!

It is so easy to overdo it with alcohol and we often forget how many calories are in just one drink. Take, for instance, a screwdriver. The orange juice alone has about 84 calories (and a lot of sugar) and when you add a shot vodka, the calories more than double. 3 or 4 of those and you’ve had almost half of your allotted daily calories. Calories aren’t the only reason to take it easy on alcohol. The lower our inhibitions, the more likely we are to mindlessly indulge in the sweets on the dessert table, that extra slice of pizza or any food that is within striking distance.

So how do you keep those calories in alcoholic drinks from adding up so quickly? Here are five tips from the experts.

1. Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. The savvy dieter finishes one cocktail, glass of wine or beer, then has a “mocktail” — a nonalcoholic, preferably zero-calorie beverage (like sparkling water with a lime) that looks like the real thing. This strategy not only reduces the risk of over-consuming calories and alcohol, but it also helps you stay hydrated so your head will thank you in the morning!

2. Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers. Just as you might order your salad with dressing on the side, don’t be shy about asking for your cocktail your way. You can save 100 calories if you have a club or diet soda as your mixer. Remember using juice mixers adds extra sugar to your drink!

3. Skip the mixer altogether. Try ordering your favorite spirit or one of the new flavored liquors on the rocks. Infused vodkas are infused with flavors, not sweetened, keeping any extra calories at bay.

4. Dilute your drink. Another option is diluting your drink with club soda or water. If you usually drink vodka and cranberry, for example, try it with club soda, just a splash of cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime.

5. Have a game plan. Before heading out, make sure you have a game plan. Decide in advance the number of cocktails you are going to drink and cut back on calories during the day in anticipation. But eat a light snack before you go so you won’t get tipsy with the first drink and it will be less tempting to dive into the food. Always be aware of your own personal limits. Don’t drink too much, and please don’t drink and drive.

IF YOU NEED A RIDE HOME TONIGHT, 1-800-AAA-HELP WILL TAKE YOU AND YOUR CAR HOME SAFELY (FL, GA and PARTS OF TN)!! IT’S FREE AND NO MEMBERSHIP IS REQUIRED!!

Have a safe and happy New Year and I’ll talk to you in 2012!

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