Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancakes {gluten-free, lactose-free}

A healthier alternative to plain-old flapjacks, these oatmeal cottage cheese pancakes are light, protein-packed, fiber-rich, and way more satisfying than your typical white-flour stack. Oh, and they’re quick and easy.
I ate them before taking a picture…so there’s no “after” beauty shot. But honestly these guys aren’t lookers. So you didn’t miss a whole lot ;)
The batter comes together in minutes, and before you know it, you’ll be sitting down to a wholesome breakfast that’s crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. I devoured them with real maple syrup and wasn’t hungry again for hours. You could also spread a little nut butter or preserves on top, or load them up with fresh berries and banana slices.
These are easily made gluten-free by using gluten-free oats, and lactose-free by using a lactose-free cottage cheese.
Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancakes:
Makes approximately 7 small pancakes or 2 large ones
Calories: 332; 9g fat (3.2g saturated); 4g fiber; 1.6g sugar; 26g protein; 15% DV Iron

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup reduced fat 2% cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Lightly coat a non-stick pan with extra light olive oil or vegetable oil and heat on medium-high. Add pancake batter to make small or large pancakes as desired. Once batter starts bubbling in a few minutes, flip and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
Note: While I love the texture of rolled oats in these pancakes, you can also blend the ingredients in a small cusinart so it more closely resembles pancake batter. For me, that’s just an extra step and another thing to clean! :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

This week, I got to do something I LOVE - work at a health fair! I always have a fun time at health fairs because I love getting to talk to lots of people, face-to-face, about food and lifestyle behaviors that can make eating healthy a whole lot easier.

This time, it was all about healthy snacks. And freshly blended tropical green smoothies. People were really diggin' the smoothie - and some even came back for seconds. So obviously, I had to post the recipe up here to share the green goodness!

As I've mentioned, I love a healthy shortcut, and this smoothie's got them in spades. You don't need to prep ANYTHING. And you don't even need a knife. There's basically no clean-up except the blender and two measuring cups. I use pre-washed spinach, which is a good time-saver, and the frozen fruit makes it cold (so you don't need to make ice)!

Here's what you'll need in the order you need it: (Makes 2 servings) 
  • 1-1/2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh spinach
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/3 cup soft calcium-set tofu (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  1. Blend the almond milk and spinach together. Start on a low speed, then up to medium, and then high. Blend until you can't see any little green bits anymore (see photo below)
  2. Add the mango, banana, tofu, and honey. Blend together starting at a low speed and working up to high.
  3. Since this makes two servings, you can drink one immediately and freeze for another day. You can freeze them in an ice-cube tray or silicon muffin pan and then toss in an air-tight container! (Check out this article from TheKitchn about freezing smoothies).
The smoothie I made for the health fair was a simple fruit and vegetable blend (it didn't have the tofu). But, I recommended people add some of their favorite protein and/or healthy fat to help them feel full if they were going to drink this alone. Some examples are protein powder, spirulina powder, nut or seed butter, flax seed, Greek yogurt, or calcium-set tofu.

Blend the almond milk and greens until you can't see bits of spinach anymore. That the secret to making your smoothie nice and well, smooth.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Secret to Self-Control + A Giveaway with Hint Water

What I’m about to tell you can change your life.

Self-control (also called self-regulation) is your ability to stop yourself from doing what that immediate, dominant voice in your head wants you to do. When you delay immediate gratification, you exert self-control.

That immediate, dominant voice can also be expressed as desire, urge, temptation, or that “I’d rather go out with my friends than do homework tonight” feeling. Remember that one?

A lot of us feel like we don’t have much self-control. That’s a draining feeling, not an energizing one. We sit on the couch instead of exercising, even though we know exercising would make us feel better. We let dishes pile up in the sink, hoping the dish fairy will clean them. We let mail pile up on the counter instead of putting it away – which only takes seconds. Or we eat too much junk food, daydream instead of work, spend money impulsively, over-spend, lose our tempers and miss appointments.

Giving into temptations in the short term puts a lot of stress on our future selves. They have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Have you ever sat on the couch when you know you should be working out? You’re trying to enjoy yourself but it’s 
like there’s a little guilt cloud hovering over you. You’re not even enjoying the thing you supposedly want to do!

Here’s the secret: Self-control is like a muscle. And the more you use it, the more self-control you’ll have, and the easier it will be to exert it.

Secret to Self Control

How can you build that muscle? It’s much easier than you think.

All you have to do is pick one thing you know is good for you but you’d rather put off, and do it consistently.

Doing that one thing consistently will make it easier for you to do other healthy things consistently. Isn’t that amazing?

Here are some behaviors you could choose:
  1. Go the gym or an exercise class 3 times a week
  2. Take a 30 minute walk five times a week
  3. Drink at least 5 glasses of water each day (pick a realistic goal amount for yourself)
  4. Start a happiness journal where you write down three things that made you happy every day before you go to bed
  5. Meditate every day for 10 minutes. (Headspace is a great phone app with daily 10-minute guided meditations)
  6. Do the dishes as you dirty them, or clean them every night before bed
  7. Put the mail away instead of on the counter
Let’s say you haven’t been going to the gym and you start lifting. At first, your biceps will be pretty weak and fatigue easily. You’ll do a bicep exercise and deplete your muscle strength. You won’t be able to do another heavy bicep exercise that day. But, if you keep doing bicep exercises and strengthen the muscle, it will take a lot more effort to deplete your muscle strength, and you’ll be able to do a lot more bicep work.

Self-control works in the same way, according to a 2000 study in Psychological Bulletin, the journal of the American Psychological Association. In 2006, researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney Australia had 24 undergraduates participate in a regular exercise program and do lab tests that tested their self-control. Over the course of the experiment, the students who consistently exercised did better on the self-control tests than when they started (and better than the control group that didn’t exercise), and started reporting healthy changes in other parts of their life. The researchers hadn’t asked them to do anything but exercise – this was not a lifestyle intervention. But the benefits of the small act of consistently exercising trickled into their other behaviors. They found a statistically significant decrease in cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, junk food consumption, impulse spending, over-spending, going out with friends instead of studying, watching TV instead of studying, putting things off until later, and leaving dishes in the sink. They also reported a decrease in perceived stress and emotional stress. The researchers said the data suggested it wasn’t the exercise specifically, but just regularly exerting self-control.

In other words. they became happier and healthier just because they started exerting self-control on one thing.

So tell me, in the comments or the Rafflecopter below (if you use comments, you must leave your e-mail address so I can reach you!): What's one thing you can do to build your self-control?

THE GIVEAWAY: Hint Water is generously giving away a gift package of Hint Fizz to one reader. The idea behind Hint is simple: purified water + a splash of natural flavor. No sugar, no diet sweeteners, and no preservatives or additives. You can get it still or fizzy! (I’m a big fan of Hint Fizz, which is a super refreshing sparkling drink in a pretty bottle!) You can now buy direct from Hint (click here).
Hint Fizz Giveaway
[Disclosure: Hint is sending me a package of Hint water plus one for the giveaway winner. I was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own.]
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My 10 Favorite Pinterest Dinner Recipes

I use Pinterest as a virtual recipe book. Instead of tearing out sheets of paper from magazines and taping them into an oversized notebook organized by course (yup, that type A), I just click a button and magically zap them into place online. When I'm deciding what to make, it's the first place I go.

I want to share 10 of my favorite recipes with you - the ones that both my husband and I happily declared "make agains" as we enjoyed our first few bites.

1. Easy Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas by Ellie Krieger for The Food Network
(This photo is actually of Iowa Girl Eats' BBQ Chicken Quesadilla because I apparently devoured Ellie's before I could snap a photo - whoops!)
We LOVE the flavor of Ellie's quesadillas, and how quickly they come together. If you have leftover cooked chicken breast (or prep it on sunday for the week), this is a great meal for you.

2. Sneaky Meatball Subs and Sneaky Meatballs on Spaghetti Squash by Kristin Porter at Iowa Girl Eats
Sneaky Meatballs on Spaghetti Squash
Kristin Porter, the girl behind Iowa Girl Eats, is a recipe genius - you'll see a bunch of our favorite Pinterest meals come from her blog. Her lean turkey meatballs are super flavorful and anything-but-dry because of the shredded zucchini she sneaks inside. It's a hearty dinner whether served in a sub roll or on top of spaghetti squash.

3. Lighter Sesame Chicken by by Kristin Porter at Iowa Girl Eats
Photo Credit: Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats
Photo Credit: Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats
I love this healthier version of a high-cal Chinese food favorite. I've also breaded the chicken with almond flour, which gave it a great flavor although less crispy texture.

4. Mediterranean Smothered Chicken by Kristin Porter at Iowa Girl Eats
Photo Credit: Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats
Photo Credit: Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats
This is one of my husband's all-time favorite meals. The little bit of cream gives it a decadent flavor, but there's really hardly any in there! The combo of briny capers and artichokes with savory tomatoes and fresh basil is beyond.

5. Twenty-Minute Chili by Cooking Light
20 Minute Turkey Chili
This has been a family favorite for years. When I visit with my parents, they often request it! It's an easy, quick dinner staple.

6. Lively Yourself Up Lentil Soup by Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks
Lentil Soup
One of my FAVORITE meals.  Heidi adds a dollop of saffron-infused Greek yogurt to the top of each bowl - come ON! It's also fantastic with poached eggs on top or chunks of ripe avocado)

7. Chicken and Brown Rice by Martha Stewart 
Chicken and Rice
A one-pot wonder. Shortcuts include frozen peas and jarred roasted red peppers. This meal is just plain cozy. We've also enjoyed it with basmati rice, which stays soft after refrigerating...leftover heaven!

8. Chickpea Burgers and Tahini Sauce by Eating Well
Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers on Salad
While I eat them warm at dinner, I turn the leftovers into Mediterranean sandwiches or salads, like you see above. For a sandwich, I layer spinach, chopped tomatoes, and sliced chickpea burgers on one side. On the other side, I smash up some stuffed grape leaves and drizzle tart tzatziki (cucumber yogurt) on the top.

9. Engagement Chicken by Glamour
Engagement Chicken
A beautiful basic chicken recipe that can easily become a household staple. It relies heavily on lemon juice and herbs for flavor, and you pour the special lemon "marry me juice" on top at the end. Rumor has it, people get engaged after making it for their boyfriends/girlfriends. This photo is from the night I got engaged :-)

10. Spinach, Herb & Goat Cheese Frittata by Ellie Krieger
Goat Cheese Fritata
Another hit from Ellie Krieger. Easy to assemble and quick cooking. It's a light dish and pairs really well with roasted potatoes, like her parsley potatoes from her Weeknight Wonders cookbook (where I originally found this frittata recipe).

Question: What are your favorite recipes? Please share recipe links in the comments below! (Don't be shy - it can be your own!)

Follow me on Pinterest for MANY more recipes - I have boards for dinners, snacks, breakfasts, healthy appetizers, salads, seafood, cooking with herbs, cooking with berries, kid-friendly meals, plus home decor, soothing spaces, style...and cute puppies!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Top 10 Ways to Control Your IBS Symptoms With Diet & Exercise

Happy Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month! I know, it’s not a fun topic; I mean, who wants to talk about bowel discomfort? It can be embarrassing to talk about your stomach problems, and you might even think the pain and bloating are normal because it’s all that you know. But don’t let shyness get in the way of healing. You’re bloated, you’re uncomfortable, your stomach is in pain, and maybe you’re worried about going out because you need to quickly find bathrooms. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you have symptoms, talk to your primary care physician or health care provider. The good news is that you can help control your symptoms through diet and nutrition.

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal tract disorder. That means the symptoms are caused by changes in how the GI tract works (read: it’s not working properly). Symptoms include abdominal pain or discomfort, cramping, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. While it may be painful, IBS does not damage your organs or lead to disease. IBS affects an estimated 24 million Americans, according to a report from Harvard Medical School. It’s more commonly found in people under age 45, and is twice as common in women than men.

Top 10 Ways to Control Your IBS Symptoms With Diet & Exercise

1. Exercise regularly. A 2011 study of IBS patients found that 20-30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity coupled with supportive phone calls from a physiotherapist resulted in a significant improvement of symptoms compared with those who just had phone calls. 

2. Avoid high-gas food. If you suffer from bloating and gas, you may find relief by reducing or avoiding high-gas foods like carbonated beverages, salads and raw fruits and vegetables — especially crucifers like broccoli and cauliflower.

3. Consider the FODMAP Elimination Diet. Some researchers propose that people with IBS have a hard time digesting and absorbing certain sugars called FODMAPS (fermentable oligio-di-monosaccharides and polyols). When they eat a sugar their body can’t properly break down, it contributes to their symptoms. The FODMAP approach is an elimination diet that helps you determine which sugars you are sensitive to, and what foods to avoid.

4. Increase fiber slowly. Quickly adding fiber to your diet may cause gas and trigger other symptoms, so increase intake slowly by 2-3 grams per day to reduce the risk.

5. Try peppermint oil.* Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may help reduce symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating and gas.

6. Take a probiotic.* Probiotics are live micro-organisms similar to the ones in our digestive tract. Taking probiotics has been associated with improved IBS symptoms — especially abdominal pain, bloating and gas.

7. Drink lots of water. 

8. Eat smaller meals instead of three big meals every day, recommends the American Academy of Family Physicians.

9. Start a food log. Record what and when you eat, your symptoms and bowel movements. This will help you determine which foods worsen your IBS.

10. Keep an eye on common “trigger foods” like milk products, alcohol, chocolate, beans, cabbage, red peppers, green onions, high-fat foods, artificial sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol (often found in sugarless candy and gum), wheat and caffeine (in coffee, tea, soda and some medications like Excedrin and Midol). *Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any herbs or supplements.

American Academy of Family Physicians: Fiber: How to Increase the Amount In Your Diet. Updated December, 2010.
American Academy of Family Physicians: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Treatment. Updated August, 2012.
Cleveland Clinic: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Reviewed January, 2011.
Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School: Understanding and treating an irritable bowel. Mayo Clinic: Irritable Bowel Syndrome: treatments and drugs. July, 2011
Medline Plus: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Reviewed June, 2013
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Complementary Health Practices. Updated February, 2012.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Updated October, 2013
University of Gothenburg. Physical activity improves symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. (January, 2011).
ScienceDaily. Exercise improve symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Retrieved March, 2014. WebMD: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Reviewed January, 2011.
WebMD: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center: IBS, Constipation, and Laxatives. October, 2012

This blog post was originally published on Food & Nutrition Magazine's Stone Soup blog on 4/1/2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Confessions of a (non)yogi & a recipe for homemade fruit leather

Hi friends! I'd like to introduce you to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and writer who is beautiful from the inside out! McKenzie Hall, of NourishRDs brings her positive spirit and "lets get real here" attitude to the blog. I met McKenzie soon after moving to Los Angeles and we've been exploring the city together ever since! Today, she shares her love of yoga clothes, wholesome snacks, and how to find a workout that you like - the only kind that's gonna stick. She's got a wonderful blog too  - so definitely check it out!
McKenzie Hall
Here's McKenzie:
I wish I were more into yoga. Is that a weird way to start to this blog post? I hope not.
It was actually the first thought that came to mind when Caroline and I were brainstorming ideas for this guest blog as we strolled through the Venice canals one lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon.
“You could write about fitness, McKenzie” she said, “That would be great!”
As it just so happens, I absolutely love talking about fitness and nutrition and how the two go hand-in-hand. I love viewing food as fuel; as something that our bodies use to do the things we love to do. And what I love is hiking, dancing, swimming, and hiking some more. But, I’m not the biggest fan of yoga. And I really wish I were. I love the idea of yoga, the principles of yoga and the lifestyle it encourages. And yoga clothes are so amazing. Even my mom is a yoga instructor – you think the yoga gene would be somewhere in my blood! But when it comes right down to it, yoga just isn’t for me.

 How often do we think we should do something, be something, when it just doesn’t fit?

This goes for food, too. What works for some people, doesn’t work for everyone. Our bodies are all different and unique, and we respond to food (and exercise) differently. And what works for us today, may not necessarily work for us tomorrow. Who knows? I could be a full-fledged yogi in 20 years!
So rather than thinking you “should” eat this or do that – I strongly encourage you to find what works best for you –to find healthy habits that work for you and those that you can stick with. I’ve found that finding maintainable, sustainable habits is the secret to health and contentment. So even though yoga may not be for me, I do love being active each day – and I’ve come to embrace the activities I love.
Regardless of what you love to do, here’s a recipe that will fuel you to do the activities you love to do. Prior to exercise, it’s best to eat a snack made up of easily digestible carbohydrates, such as fruit, a low-fat yogurt, or a granola bar. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of fuel; they help you run that extra flight of stairs, climb to the top of the steep hill, or even master tree pose.

What activities do you love to do? I’d love to know!

{DIY 2-Ingredient} Apple Cinnamon Fruit Leather

Keep a few of these fruit leathers on hand to give you the added boost of energy you may need to fuel your next activity.
Homemade DIY Fruit Leather
  • 3 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible. I was able to set my oven to 170 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap or a silpat silicone mat.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix apple sauce and amount of desired cinnamon.
  4. Spread the apple mixture out onto the baking sheet. For best results, spread as evenly and thinly as possible.
  5. Place in the oven and let bake for 6-7 hours.  Fruit leather is done when it is a little bit sticky.
  6. Let cool for approximately 20 minutes. Cut into desired width and roll into wax paper. Store in an air-tight container.
Homemade DIY Fruit Leather
McKenzie Hall is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Los Angeles, and co-founder of Nourish RDs, a nutrition communications and consulting business. McKenzie alongside with her business partner and best friend, Lisa, believe eating well is not about what you can’t eat—it’s about what you can eat. Their best (non) diet advice? Eat real food and share it with those you love! You can follow them on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram and check out their recipes and nutrition tips on the Nourish RDs blog. You can also check out McKenzie’s personal Twitter & Pinterest accounts here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Storming Capitol Hill - Fighting for Health Legislation

Sorry that my blog has been pretty quiet the last few days. I have been at an exciting public policy conference in Washington, DC with over 400 Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, dietetics students and interns, and Dietetic Technicians, Registered.

We stormed Capitol Hill yesterday to talk to our legislators about three very important pieces of legislation that can help improve our nation's health. They included securing funding for meals-on-wheels and congregant meal sites for older Americans, providing more affordable access to evidence-based obesity treatments, and making it easier for legislation focused on PREVENTION to get passed!

Members of the California Dietetic Association at the Public Policy Workshop (I'm fourth from the right)

I am passionate about my work, and I truly want to make it easier for people to be healthy, feel their best, and prevent chronic disease through food and exercise. Yesterday, I made that clear to Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Diane Feinstein, and Representative Henry Waxman of the Great State of California.

(L) Meeting with Representative Henry Waxman's Legislative Assistant, Matthew Connolly. (R) Photo Opp with Joy Bauer, the Keynote Speaker

(This is a long one, so if you skipped to here, here's the bottom line: I'm here for you.)