Pear Cinnamon Smoothie

Starting about a year ago, I finally joined the breakfast smoothie band wagon. I would make them off and on before that. But I wasn’t a huge fan. I always felt hungry soon after or wanted more food. Something finally clicked with me though, and I’ve loved them. I think it helps that I can drink it as part of my cool down from exercising. And I can sip as I go about my morning mom duties – grabbing breakfast for kids, cleaning up, making beds, etc. It feels less time consuming.

I’ll admit that the a berry-banana-chocolate protein powder smoothie is my go to, since I always keep the ingredients around. But it is nice to liven things up sometimes. This pear cinnamon smoothie is really easy to throw together and is yummy and satisfying. Enjoy!

Pear Cinnamon Smoothie (Makes 2 servings)

Pear Cinnamon Smoothie

2 pears
1 cup vanila nonfat greek ygourt
1 banana
¼ – ½ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
ice, as needed for desired consistency

1. Blend ingredients until smooth.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 272
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 57 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 54 mg

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Mashed Potatoes – a showdown with a nemesis

Back when my husband and I were first married, we basically stopped eating regular potatoes. Our apartment had a VERY warm kitchen, where they always seemed to rot. And sweet potatoes were less expensive at our local produce market. We made the switch and didn’t look back for several years.

In the past three years, I’ve started moving back into the realm of regular potatoes more. My kids really like them. I have run across a problem though – mashed potatoes. They seem to be my nemesis. The only way I could make edible mashed potatoes was turn off my dietitian brain and add so much salt, butter, sour cream, cheese, etc. They were delicious, but I knew I needed a compromise.

I found this recipe and LOVED it. I will say, I don’t know that they are a good stand in for ALL uses of mashed potatoes. For a holiday dinner, I would still go for regular and just turn off my dietitian brain. It’s the holidays. It’s ok. But for a regular weeknight, these are quick and delicious!

Mashed Potatoes with Turnips and Apples (Serves 4)

Mashed Potatoes with Turnips and Apple

2-3 large turnips, chopped (1½ cups)
1 large yukon gold potato, chopped
1 fuji apple, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼ cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. Place turnips, potato, apple, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Discard bay leaf.

2. Return vegetable mixture to pan. Add remaining ingredients; mash to desired consistency.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:
Protein:
Fat:
Saturated Fat:
Cholesterol:
Carbohydrates:
Fiber:
Sodium:

Recipe notes: I have subbed russet potatoes here, although I did peel it then. I’ve also subbed gala and red delicious apples. All worked fine. If you are concerned, you can flip the turnip to potato ratio and gradually play with the amounts over time to find the taste that best suits your family. I’ll post the recipe that includes the gravy pictures soon!

Source: Cooking Light

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Chili Sauce Salmon

Lent season is coming soon, which for many people means Fish Fridays. We like fish at my house. Even my kids eat it well, which surprises me literally every time I make it. As a kid, I only ate fish sticks. But the mild flavor of salmon really appeals to my kids. Which I think is a win.

This salmon is super simple to grill or bake in the oven. Chili sauce is kind of a random ingredient, but I’ve never had trouble finding it in the condiment section at the grocery store. Enjoy!

Chili Sauce Salmon (Serves 4)

Chili Sauce Salmon

4 (6-7 ounce) salmon fillets
¼ cup chili sauce
¼ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1. Combine chili sauce thorugh soy sauce. Place in a resealable bag. Toss salmon to coat in marinade. Refrigerate and marinade for at least 30 minutes, up to 4-6 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Bake salmon 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees.

OR Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill salmon 5-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees.

Recipe notes: You have a couple options on the marinade. It is delicious just marinated and cooked. If you want sauce (like picture), you can save the marinade and boil it and use it as a sauce. Or make a second batch of the marinade after. I did the later to have something to picture, but I halved the amount which was plenty.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 287
Protein: 36 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 79 mg
Carbohdyrates: 18 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 623 mg

Source: original recipe

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Mu Shu Pork Burritos

Growing up, my family ate the same few things from Chinese restaurants: sweet and sour pork, cashew chicken, and beef and broccoli. Don’t get me wrong. Those are delicious and easy crowd pleasers with kids. But as an adult, I’ve branched out a bit more and discovered and AMAZING world of options. One of those: mu shu.

These mu shu pork “burritos” simplify homemade Chinese by subbing easy access flour tortillas for the delicious little pancakes you get at restaurants. These are super simple to throw together and delicious! Have a great weekend!

Mu Shu Pork Burritos (Serves 4)

Mu Shu Pork Burritos

1 lb pulled pork
8 small whole wheat flour tortillas or 4 regular tortillas
3 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¼ head green cabbage, thinly sliced
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vineagr
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
sriracha, to taste
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Wrap tortillas in foil. Place in a 300 degree oven to warm (5-10 minutes at most).
2. Heat a large nostick skillet over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Add eggs and scramble. Remove to a plate/bowl and set aside.
3. Add cabbage, onion, carrot, and garlic to skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
4. Mix vinegar through sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour over vegetables. Stir until thickened. Stir in eggs and pork until all combined.
5. To serve, make “burritoes” of pork/vegetable mixture and top with green onions.

Recipe Notes: You could sub ground pork for the pulled pork. I would brown it first, then remove it from the skillet to scramble the eggs.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 445
Protein: 26 gm
Fat: 21 gm
Saturated fat: 6 gm
Cholesterol: 197 mg
Carbohydrates: 38 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 878 mg

Source: adapted from Keeping Up Cookbook

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Q&A: Keto diet

Q: Is the ketogenic diet safe? Does it work?

A: Thank you as always for the question. I always enjoy responding to reader questions.

The ketogenic is a popular low carb diet right now. Different from Atkins or South Beach diet, the keto diet focuses on high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs. The diet has been used for years in neurological settings, helping with uncontrollable seizures.

The idea behind the diet is a bit complicated, but, similar to intermittent fasting, focuses on burning fat and lowering insulin. Our body wants carbs for energy. When we don’t consume them or have anymore stored, the body will break down fats into products called ketones (the source of the name ketogenic). The body then uses these ketones somewhat like carbohydrates. (This is an oversimplification, but works for our purposes). Since the body is burning fat (consumed and stored), insulin isn’t triggered.

There are some risks with this diet, like any.

-It could be lacking in vitamins and minerals. Over a very short term period, this isn’t as concerning as in the long term. Fruits and vegetables are often the most diverse sorts of micronutrients in our diets, so restricting these as strictly as many keto diets recommend could be dangerous.

-If you have liver or kidney problems, a diet very high in fat could exacerbate these problems and would not be recommended.

-This diet is low in fiber. The benefits of fullness seem to be covered by the full feeling provided by fatty foods. But you could become constipated.

-High ketones in the blood can alter neurological functions. This can be good in the case of epilepsy, and possibly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (there is promising research here). But for normal, healthy adults, it could lead to difficulties in memory and fuzzy thinking.

-Risks for heart health and diabetes. The keto diet is often very high in saturated fat. Some studies have even shown increases in LDL or bad cholesterol with heart health. Experts have mixed thoughts on diabetes. Very low carb diets are not recommended for those with diabetes. And people with diabetes are at increased risk of heart disease, so our previous discussion on saturated fat applies. However, some carb restriction could lead to lowered insulin. Just likely not as low as keto diets recommend.

There are not enough long term studies yet to know if the keto diet is safe and effective in the long term. Short term studies do show it is very effective at weight loss.

Personally, I would not recommend this. I doubt it is sustainable in the long term, and question it would be healthy to do so. A more mild approach would likely be fine.

Hope that helps!

Do you have a question? Comment here, on Facebook, or email me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com.

Sources: Harvard Health, US News, Cleveland Clinic

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Chicken Fajitas, two ways

I love making big spreads of Mexican food. Much of it is easy to prepare and not incredibly time consuming. Mexican food is also a crowd pleaser – people can choose their own toppings to make everything customized. And let’s be honest, it’s delicious.

A friend told me recently about oven baking her fajita mix. I tried it, and it worked really well. Time wise, I think it takes about the same amount of time. But it is less hands on if you that helps in these hectic dinner times. Who knew winter could be so busy?

Chicken Fajitas (Serves 4)

Chicken Fajitas

½ tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
½ jalapeno, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, sliced
3 large chicken breast, cut in strips
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 large whole wheat flour tortillas

Stove top:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil. When hot, add chicken. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until done. Remove to a plate.

2. Return skillet to heat. Add onion and peppers, cook until beginning to soften. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook, stirring until fragrant 1-2 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes and chicken. Cook until most of moisture is gone from tomatoes. Serve on tortillas with cheese.

Oven:

1. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Combine vegetables, chicken, oil, and seasonings in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

3. Spread in one layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

4. Serve on tortillas with cheese.

Nutritional information (amount per serving):

Calories: 489 kcal
Protein: 59 g
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 163 mg
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 501 mg

Recipe notes: You can obviously mixup the toppings here. I just kept it simple. You could also increase the amounts of peppers and tomatoes if you like them. Mixing up the colors of you peppers is fun, too.

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Q&A: Intermittent fasting

Q: Many people I know are using “intermittent fasting” to lose weight. Is it effective? Are there health benefits? Should I try it?

A: Thank you for your questions as always. I actually have a few family members who follow an intermittent fasting “diet”, so I was very interested to research some more about this.

Intermittent fasting is followed in various forms by different people. The basics are that you limit your eating to a set number of hours per day. Most people it seems go with an 8-10 hour period, but I’ve heard of some restrict it down to only 2 hours per day.

What results are we seeing in scientific studies? Studies have shown that people have as good weight loss as just restricting their overall intake without a time restriction. But studies also indicate there may be benefits in relation to blood glucose and fat levels, which is good news for those at risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Why? This article from Harvard Health goes in much greater detail if you are interested. But in short, when we eat carbohydrates, one of two things can happen. First, those carbs are used for energy, which requires insulin (insulin levels are high). Second, they can be stored as fat. In between meals, when the body needs carbs but there aren’t any available (insulin is LOW), the body breaks down the fat for energy. This is good. We want the body to do this. But if we are CONSTANTLY eating, insulin levels stay high and we never break down that fat. Also, constantly overload of insulin can lead to our body not responding well to insulin, which can lead to diabetes.

But isn’t fasting hard? For some people, it can be. The Harvard article mentions some research that shows putting your eating period earlier in the day makes it easier rather than later (so 7 am-3 pm vs 12 pm – 8 pm). I think the timing of your fasting period is likely to be very individualized based on your preference and schedule. If you already aren’t a morning eater, don’t start just because of fasting.

Don’t want to fast? Me either. But there are some good take aways for EVERYONE, even if you aren’t intermittent fasting.

-Stop eating ALL the time. Allow insulin levels drop and you can burn some fat.

-“Hunger” in and of itself isn’t a horrible thing. Letting it get out of control so you eat out of control can be bad, but a little bit of hunger between meals is ok.

-Don’t eat late at night. This is likely to be just junk foods and shortens the periods of low insulin levels at night.

-Find what works for you. Fasters need to find the 8 hours that work best for them. Find what “schedule” of eating works best for you, be it 1, 2, or 3 meals a day. There is not a generic diet that will be perfect for everyone. You have to make it work for you!

Hope that helps!

Send questions to kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com.

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