Tag Archives: holidays

Chinese New Year – 3 recipes

This coming Saturday (January 25th) is Chinese New Year.  I love celebrating holidays like this in even a small way with my family.  Food is a great way to introduce our families to other cultures.  It gives our children even a small insight into how people might live differently than us.  They have different food, clothes, holidays, traditions, etc.  This variety is what makes life and the world interesting.

Today I have 3 recipes that make for a fun asian inspired dinner.  Sweet and sour is my kids’ favorite thing.  So I knew I needed to find a way to make this at home.  They don’t eat most of the vegetables when we get sweet and sour from a restaurant, so I put a spin on broccoli that I knew they would like.  If you are doing keto or lo carb, this zoodle lo mein is a really quick and tasty option.  Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Chicken (serves 4)

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Soy Ginger Broccoli

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, 6 tablespoons of juice saved
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
red food coloring, optional

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces. Cook until cooked through (about 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces).

2. While chicken cooks, mix remaining ingredients minus pineapple chunks together well. Whisk to remove clumps of cornstarch. Add red food coloring if desired to get that traditional bright red color.

3. When chicken is done, stir in pineapple. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 1-2 minutes, just to heat through. Add sauce mixture. Cook, stirring until desired thickness, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 296
Protein: 31 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 100 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 180 mg

Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Soy Ginger Broccoli (serves 4)

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets (about 4 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium high heat.

2. Add broccoli. Cook stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Cook stirring frequently for 1 more minute.

3. Stir in soy sauce. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Source: own recipe

Nutrition information:

Calories: 45
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 158 mg

Zoodle Lo Mein (serves 4)

Zoodle Lo Mein

3 zucchini
½ tablespoon canola oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup chopped cauliflower
½ cup water
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1. Create “zoodles” with a spiralizer.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion through cauliflower. Saute about 5 minutes. Add water, cover, and cook until water is evaporated and vegetables are tender.

3. Add zoodles. Saute 2-3 minutes until all ingredients combined.

4. Add hoisin sauce and soy sauce. Stir to coat and cook until heated through. Serve immediately.

Recipe notes: You need medium-large zucchini. You are better off with more zucchini than less, so err on the side of more if your zucchini are smallish. You can make zucchini ribbons with a veggie peeler if you don’t have a spiralizer. They might take a minute or two longer to cook. Lo mein is great for cleaning out the fridge of vegetable odds and ends, Sub in 2-3 cups of whatever you like for the carrots and cauliflower. If the hoisin has too much carbs for your diet, you could do all low sodium soy sauce instead.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 90
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: less than 1 g
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 428 mg

Source: own recipe

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Gingerbread Pancakes

Breakfast is a nutritionally important meal of the day. But I also find it to be an emotionally important meal. When I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I need a good breakfast to help me turn my day around. And it really works. No bowls of cold cereal. I need warm food that makes me feel happy. I love easy ways to make breakfast seem special, since I usually don’t have much time on those days.

These gingerbread pancakes fit that bill. If you tried my gingerbread pancakes last year, these are even better.  Lighter and more fluffy.  Still great gingerbread flavor without being overpowering.  And no sugar in the batter besides molasses!  Hooray!

Gingerbread Pancakes (Makes 10-15 pancakes)

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 large egg
1 ½ cups skim milk
5 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ⅓ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, molasses, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

2. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan to medium-high heat (350 if electric). Lightly spray pan with cooking spray. Pour about ¼-⅓ cup batter onto griddle for each cake. Cook until they start to bubble and bottom looks set. Flip and cook until browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per pancake):

Calories: 110
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 2 gm
Sodium: 138 mg

Notes: I prefer white whole wheat flour, but “regular” whole wheat flour also works here. As with all pancake batters, I find the amount of liquid is a little bit tricky. You can add more milk if you need a thinner batter.

Source: Children’s Museum Denver

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Cheeseburgers for health?

I promise I am not affiliated with Freakonomics in any way. But they had another podcast recently about health and nutrition that I found very interesting. It was the antithesis of Super Size Me and fits within my philosophy pretty well, too.

The podcast, titled “The Cheeseburger Diet”, follows the story of a women who was determined to find the best cheeseburger in Louisville, Kentucky. She determined to eat two cheeseburgers for a week for an entire year. Since that logically raises some health concerns, she monitored her weight throughout the year as well as testing her cholesterol before and after. After a year, her weight was exactly the same. Her total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol had increased but not to concerning levels. Her HDL (“good”) cholesterol had actually increased to a better level. Surprising, yes?

Not really, when she further examined her life during that year. Since she new that she was going to be eating cheeseburgers regularly, she focused on healthier items the rest of the week. She also exercised more to help offset any effects of the cheeseburger. She even said once the experiment was over, she ate less healthy because she wasn’t monitoring her “junk” intake as much.

While I don’t recommend eating fast food twice a week every week for a healthy life, I think her experiment highlights something important. You don’t have to never eat junk food, fast food, or the food you love. The trick is to eat it sparingly, and be healthier the rest of the time to compensate for it.

What does that look like in real life? Here are a couple other examples, a few which may be helpful as we continue with the busy holiday eating season and as you are considering your New Year’s resolutions.

– Once a week, we eat breakfast for dinner. Often, that means we have less vegetables for dinner than we normally would. On that day, I focus on eating extra vegetables for lunch to make sure I get enough in for the day.

– I’ve known several friends who limit themselves to treats only one day per week. If they cheat, they have to pay money to a “fund” that goes to any participants who don’t cheat.

I hope you have a wonderful, delicious holiday season filled with moderation as needed but enjoyment of your favorite Christmas treats!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Gingerbread Pancakes

Christmas is coming. Gingerbread is an integral part of most families’ traditions, although rarely for eating. Most of us make gingerbread houses, but do we make gingerbread to eat? Not generally.

I’ve been experimenting with different gingerbreads for breakfast, and my family has been loving it. It’s such a flavor boost. I’m hooked. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Pancakes (Makes about 10 pancakes)

Gingerbread pancakes

1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (9.4 ounces)
½ tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons molasses
1 ½ cups skim milk or nonfat buttermilk

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add milk gradually, adding just until it reaches the right consistency.

2. Heat a griddle to 350 degrees or a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information (Amount per pancake):

Calories: 144
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: .5 g
Cholesterol: 38 mg
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 318 mg

Recipe Notes: I find most pancake recipes underestimate the amount of liquid needed. Add milk to the consistency you like for pancakes. I prefer thin pancake batter. These pancakes are kind of “hefty” as it is, so I don’t need the batter to be thicker than necessary.

Source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma

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Healthy Cooking Christmas Gift Ideas

I kind of hate thinking about Christmas too much before Thanksgiving. But many of us do our Christmas shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. And I will be busy with family over the holiday, so here we are. Here are some of my favorite cooking gadgets or healthy resources. Hope they give you some ideas for people on your Christmas list. (I am not receiving any compensation for mentioning any of these products. These are just things I use and love.)

-Spiralizer. While I might be a year or two behind the trend on zoodles, I recently got a spiralizer and I love it. We have loved eating spiralized hash browns A LOT. You can buy really expensive or really cheap ones. I opted for a less expensive, handheld model and love it. (The one I got doesn’t seem to be available on Amazon, but this one is like it.)

Spiralizer Hashbrowns

-Kitchen Scale. While this seems like a rude, diet-oriented gift, it is actually quite useful. Especially for any bakers out there, exact measurements are very helpful. I recently got this one, because it was the top rated item on Amazon. It does work well.

-Spices or herbs. This isn’t a joke. Fun or exotic spices can be expensive but really open up doors in cooking. Plus it is important to have fresh, quality products. While I don’t purchase them all the time, Penzey’s Spices have great products. I love the curry powder, chipotle chile powder, garam masala, and cocoa powder I have gotten from there. I know many people love their cinnamon as well. They also have great gift box options.

-Magazine Subscription. My favorite cooking magazines are Cooking Light and Cook’s Illustrated. While Cook’s Illustrated doesn’t only have “healthy” recipes, their analysis of the science behind cooking makes you a better cook for reading it.

-Lasagna Pan. I registered for this when I got married, and I kind of felt frivolous. It’s a 9×13 pan, right? WRONG. I love my pan. It is just a bit bigger than a traditional 9×13 pan, which is great for lasagna, enchiladas, and all sorts of casseroles. I just discovered that mine was recalled over 2 years ago (oops!), but there are plenty of options out there.

Happy shopping!

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French Onion Soup + Lightened up Grilled Cheese

I asked my husband what his favorite vegetable was once.   He thought for a long time and said, “Peas, corn, and maybe carrots.”  This is the man that has NEVER eaten a dish that he thought had too many onions, and believe me I have tried. I would guess that most of us forget that onions are even a vegetable, and yet, many of us eat more onions in a year than about any other vegetable.

Onions add to the rainbow of color I mentioned last week.  High in vitamin C, fiber, and several phytochemicals, onions are nutritionally beneficial beyond the flavor they add to your food.

I know onions can be strong, but caramelizing onions takes away the strong onion flavor and enhances the natural sweetness.  Caramelized onions are great on sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs as well as in chili and some pasta dishes.  This french onion soup is the perfect soup for a multi-course holiday dinner – full of flavor but very light.  You could serve this with a more traditional cheesy toast on top, but I prefer a grilled cheese.

Enjoy!

French Onion Soup  (Serves 4-6)

IMG_5977label

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 cups low sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. In large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until beginning to lightly brown. Add salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until they are a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.

2. When onions are sufficiently caramelized, add garlic powder. Sauté for about a minute, until fragrant.

2. Add broths, water, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaf. Scrap bottom of pot when adding broths to get any brown bits off the bottom. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in vinegar. Serve warm. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 161
Protein: 7 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 268 mg

Recipe Notes: I’m including a process shot for those who haven’t caramelized onions before. This took at least 20 minutes, and I’d keep going. Caramelizing onions takes patience. Take deep breaths, and give them time. It kind of looks like a watery mess at some points. That is just the water coming out of the onions, which is good. I know this seems like a lot of onions. But they are kind of like leafy greens – they shrink a lot when cooked.

IMG_6096label

I would be fibbing if I said this was my favorite soup ever. It was very tasty. I’m just more of a soup-as-a-meal rather than soup-as-a-course person.

Source: Adapted from Keeping Up Cookbook

Lightened Grilled Cheese (Makes 4 sandwiches)

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
8 slices whole wheat bread
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1. Combine cream cheese and shredded cheese. Divide evenly between 4 bread slices. Top with remaining bread for sandwiches.

2. Heat a skillet to medium to medium-high heat. Place ¼ teaspoon of olive oil on skillet and place 1 sandwich on top, swirling sandwich a bit to coat with oil. Repeat for remaining sandwiches. When browned, flip sandwich, putting another ¼ teaspoon of olive oil under each sandwich mid-flip. Brown second side.

Nutritional Information (Amount per sandwich):

Calories: 341
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Carbohydrates: 31 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 412 mg

Recipe Notes: You could use whatever shredded cheese you prefer. Swiss cheese and french onion soup are a classic combo. These are a little more intense than traditional grilled cheese, I know. But they are very good and cut quite a bit of fat.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Q&A: Holiday Eating

IMG_0942

Q: During the holidays, I eat at other people’s homes frequently. How do I eat healthy and control my weight when I am not planning the menu?

A: Great question! The holidays are often a difficult time for making healthy choices. Treats are everywhere, and big meals become the norm. Here are a few tips for eating healthy when you are eating at someone else’s home.

-Make sure your other meals are very healthy. If you know you are eating at a party for dinner, make sure you eat extra fruits and veggies at breakfast and lunch. Then your daily total will still be adequate.

-Eat light at other meals to balance overall intake. However, make sure you aren’t making yourself go hungry. Excessive hunger will just lead to overeating.

-Try and focus on any healthy dishes that are available.

-If you can, stick to one plateful. If this will leave a bad impression with your hostess, take a second helping before you finish your first. I know that seems strange. But, if you add just a little bit of a second helping to what remains of your first, your plate will look more full and you will eat less food.

-Spread food out on your plate. Avoid tall mounds of potatoes. By making food a thinner layer, it looks like your plate is full when you have less food on it.

-If the event is potluck, bring something healthy yourself.

-If you are hosting a holiday event, try to focus on health when planning your menu. Make it easier for others to keep their goals. If we all try to help each other out, everyone’s holiday eating will be healthier.

I hope that helps. The most important thing to remember is that a little splurging here and there in the holidays isn’t horrible. But being conscious of your choices and trying to minimize the splurges will make for healthier and happier holiday season.

Happy holidays and holiday eating!

Also, I just found a new online resource for healthy recipes. Check it out: https://aloha.com/shop/recipes/

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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