Basque Pork Pasta

Summer officially ends tomorrow. It’s still pretty warm at my house, and my garden is still going crazy. Tomatoes out my ears. In a good way.

However, I was looking for a dinner that had tomatoes, but didn’t scream “trying to get rid of a counter full of tomatoes”. Enter this pasta dish. It was perfect for a warm late summer/early fall evening with lots of bright flavors. Enjoy!

Basque Pork Pasta (Serves 4-6)

Basque Pork Pasta

2 pork loin chops, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup parmesan
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
8 ounces vegetable spaghetti
1 lemon, zested
juice of 1 lemon
2 tomatoes, diced

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions, without oil or salt. Add broccoli for last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, garlic, italian seasoning, and lemon zest. Cook 7-10 minutes, or until pork is cooked through. Deglaze pan with lemon juice.

3. Add pork mixture to pasta and broccoli. Toss with parmesan and tomatoes.

Nutrient Analysis (Amount per serving):

Calories: 748
Protein: 44 gm
Fat: 23 gm
Saturated Fat: 8 gm
Cholesterol: 88 mg
Carbohydrates: 67 gm
Fiber: 10 gm
Sodium: 227 mg

Recipe notes: If you can’t find a vegetable spaghetti, you could use all whole wheat. My mom made a similar dish to this growing up and always used spinach linguine.

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Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie

Who has eaten dessert for breakfast? Cake, cookies, pie? I certainly have. Apple crisp is my personal favorite, because it is the easiest to “justify” – it’s just fruit with “granola” on top, right. We’ve all been there (I think). It reminds me of this Bill Cosby skit about chocolate cake.

Well, this smoothie is as close to a healthy dessert as I’ve found for breakfast. It is my new go-to. With the end of summer heat sticking around, I find myself wanting something cold after my morning workouts. This is good for you and SUPER delicious. I really feel like I’m drinking a milkshake. Enjoy!

(Sorry for my continued lack of pictures. Life and my desire to eat seem to be getting the better of me lately.)

Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie (Serves 2)

3 pitted dates
1 cup skim milk
½ cup raspberries, chilled/frzoen
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup vanilla fat free greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced, chilled/frozen
1 cup ice (preferably crushed)

1. Place fruit in freezer for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Can use fresh raspberries that you chill/freeze or storebought frozen raspberries.

2. Soak dates in hot water (enough to cover the dates) for 5-10 minutes. Drain water.

3. Blend dates and milk until dates are broken up. Add in remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 312
Protein: 17 gm
Fat: 2 gm
Saturated Fat: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 67 gm
Fiber: 10 gm
Sodium: 90 mg

Recipe notes: I have had success making this without the soaked dates as well. I sub in a a teaspoon or two of honey for sweetener. That brings down the fiber quite a bit. Just for mornings when I forget to soak some dates.

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End of Summer Pizza

Summer is over, or at least it seems to be now that Labor Day has come and gone. However, my garden is just starting to come into it’s own with tomatoes and zucchini. Anyone else?

I saw this trick of shredding zucchini in with cheese on smitten kitchen awhile ago. I loved it in the original grilled cheese sandwich, and I have taken to trying it in other “cheesy” foods like quesadillas. Pizza seemed like a no brainer.

Full disclosure: I thought this was delicious. It tasted fresh and just like late summer/early fall. My kids definitely picked out all the zucchini they could. BUT, I have tried the zucchini/cheese trick with older kids (8 years old) and they liked it; even the kids who said they hated vegetables generally.

End of Summer Pizza (Serves 4)

(Sorry, I was too busy eating to take a picture. Oops!)

½ recipe pizza dough
½ cup marinara sauce
1 zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped or torn into large pieces

1. Heat oven to 400. Prepare pizza dough through parbake.
2. Spread sauce over dough.
3. Squeeze zucchini between towels to remove much of the moisture. Toss the zucchini with the cheese. Sprinkle over the pizza. Top with tomatoes.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness. Finish with basil before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 147
Protein: 9 gm
Fat: 7 gm
Saturated Fat: 3 gm
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 13 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 246 mg

Notes: I’m writing the recipe here for one large pizza. For a quick dinner, we actually ate this on naan breads, which was great. English muffins would also work. Sometimes fun “dough” makes it more interesting to kids, too.

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To comfort or not to comfort

Truth: sometimes we all have bad days. Today was one for me. Most people I know turn to comfort foods when times are tough. Desserts, ice cream, and candy are common. Or maybe it is take-out chinese food for you. I know someone whose comfort food is chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. I sometimes find a Big Mac comforting. We all have our food.

But does that food actually make us feel better? I can’t find the reference now, but I recently heard about some research done that indicates the answer is no. Eating a healthy food had the same effect as the comfort food. Some research has shown that not eating has the same effect.

I’m curious if this rings true for any of you readers out there. I have mixed thoughts on this.

1) I’m not convinced that a lab stimulated “depressed” mood from watching a sad movie is the same as how we feel after a bad day.

2) Not all comfort foods are created equal. No one food is the right answer every time (or any time if you believe the research).

3) I will admit that sometimes eating something healthy gives me enough of a positive boost (Hey look, I did something good for myself) to get through. And exercising can have the same effect as well.

4) Most of the time, the effects of anything, comfort food or otherwise, are fairly short lived on your overall mood for the day.

I’ll admit without shame that I ate some ice cream to help me through my rough day.

Let me know in the comments what your comfort foods are and if this research rings true for you or not!

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Coke Zero Sugar

Last week, there was an announcement that Coke Zero would be going away and a new product, Coke Zero Sugar, would be taking its place. Based on conversations I’ve had with several groups, there has been a lot of confusion about this upcoming change. So I thought I’d outline the facts.

-The old Coke Zero had no sugar or calories. This is simply a name change to better reflect that.

-The same sweetener will be used in Coke Zero Sugar as Coke Zero.

-The only change in the product is a new recipe to improve the taste of Coke Zero Sugar.

-There will be a label change to make it look more like original Coca-Cola, which is what the product is aiming to taste like.

Hope this helps as you make decisions about your no and low calorie beverages. Happy eating everyone!

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Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Nothing screams summer to me like watermelon. But I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to watermelon. I see recipes for grilling it or combining it in salads all the time, and I’m skeptical. How could that even taste good?

Well, I finally broke down and tried one. And…it was delicious! I was shocked, I’m not going to lie. I really only tried it to prove a point that these recipes are gross. So, believe me when I say this is worth trying, even if you are skeptical. Hope you give it a try!

Watermelon and Tomato Salad (Serves 4-6)

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup arugula
2 green onions, chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups seedless watermelon, sliced thin
1 ounce feta cheese

1. Combine first four ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 86
Protein: 2 gm
Fat: 5 gm
Saturated Fat: 2 gm
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 9 gm
Fiber: 1 gm
Sodium: 217 mg

Recipe notes: Everything about this salad saves well except the arugula. So, if you anticipate leftovers, maybe put in less arugula and add in more as you eat it.

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Chicken Kebabs with Blueberry Salsa

I hope you had a great Fourth of July, full of food, family, fireworks, and fun.

When you hear “barbecue” what do you think of? Smoked meat? Burgers? Grilled meats? I find all of the above come to my mine in different ways.

These kebabs were some of the best “barbecue” I’ve made in a while. I was so busy making and then eating them, I forgot to take a picture. Sorry. I threw some veggies on other kebabs and had dinner ready with very few dishes. Win!

Chicken Kebabs with Blueberry Salsa (Serves 4)

1 clove garlic
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 pint blueberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons finey chopped red onion
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (or to taste)

1. Combine garlic, parsley, cilatnro, oil, lemon rind, lmeon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor until well chopped. Combine mixture with chicken in a resealable bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Combine ½ of the blueberries, vinegar, and honey in a small pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally pressing on blueberries with a spoon to break them up. Place in a medium bowl.

3. Place remaining blueberries in a food processor; pulse 5 times. Add to cooked berries along with onion and jalapeno.

4. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Thread chicken pieces onto skewers, not packing them in tightly. Grill for 10 minutes, turning occasioally. Serve with blueberry salsa.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 268
Protein: 31 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 102 mg
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 202 mg

Adapted from Cooking Light

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