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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Find something healthy AND delicious!

One meal I really try to be conscious about what I’m eating is lunch. For me, lunch is an easy meal to just eat junk or graze through random leftovers. It is also an easy meal for me to get some servings of vegetables in, if I make a conscious effort.

I’ve found lots of easy ways of putting veggies in my lunch.

-Having carrot and celery sticks for dipping in peanut butter or ranch ready to go.
-Throwing leftovers on top of a bed of greens for a salad.
-Microwaving some spinach down and mixing that into whatever else I’m eating.
-Mixing some microwaved frozen mixed veggies into my noodles or soup.

However, over time, I’ve realized something very important. It has to taste good! If it doesn’t, I won’t eat it. Today, I mixed a random assortment of stuff from my fridge onto some lettuce. I was trying to clean out my fridge, so it was an odd mix. Usually that works out ok. Today, not so much. And guess what? I ate about half and threw the rest away.

My point is: don’t buy a bunch of food you don’t like just because it is healthy. Find the “healthy” foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains) that you enjoy and focus on those. Eating healthy should still be delicious and enjoyable!

Happy eating!

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Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Frittata

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a couple months. I’ve had several projects taking up my time, including a nutrition project I’m hoping to share with you all very soon.

Whenever I think about frittatas, I picture Harrison Ford in the movie Morning Glory. If you haven’t seen it, he plays a crusty old man who drives a young TV producer crazy with several antics, including making a frittata.

Making this frittata shouldn’t drive you crazy. Frittata are actually quite easy. And it’s a one pan dinner. Cook up your veggies in a skillet, add you eggs, then slide that same skillet into the oven. So make sure your skillet is oven safe before you start, or you might be very sad. And as Harrison tells us in the movie, you can eat frittata warm or cold.

You can mix up any assortment of vegetables, meat, and/or cheeses. I liked these spring inspired flavors. Enjoy!

Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Frittata (Serves 4-6)

Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Frittata

1 bunch asparagus, chopped (12-16 oz)
¼ onion, chopped
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
2 ounces ham, diced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped spinach
6 eggs
2 tbsp skim milk
⅛ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1. Coat a large oven safe skillet (cast iron works well here) with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Heat skillet over medium high heat. When hot, saute aspragus, onion and ham until vegetables begin to get tender (about 3-5 minutes). Add in garlic and spinach. Saute, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until spinach starts to wilt.

3. In a bowl, whisk together, eggs milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture into skillet with vegetable mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until edges of eggs begin to set.

4. Sprinkle goat chese over top of eggs. Put skillet in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until eggs are set. Let cool slightly before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 186
Protein: 16 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 289 mg
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 566 mg

Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

Recipe notes: The best part of frittata is you can throw in whatever you have on hand. This is a great way to use up any leftover meat, veggies, and cheese you may have floating around your fridge. And if they are leftovers, you won’t need to “cook” them, just reheat as you cook the eggs.

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