Thursday, January 03, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  If you’re anything like me, you’re still in a fog of parties, over-consumption and sleeping in. My email inbox is bursting at the seams, much like my pants.

Starting today I’m going to try and work off the five pounds I gained the past month or so and I plan to do a lot of new cooking! I’ll probably start with a detox. Yes, a detox. That’s a scary word in the nutrition community, but there are lots of recommendations on how to detox the healthy way!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress but I want to recommend a great article I came across for those of you also looking for a post-party detox.

Good luck to us!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Healthier Holiday Cookie Recipes

Happy Holidays! 

It's my absolute favorite time of the year. I love the crisp cold air, the smell of pine and the anticipation of seeing my crazy family all in one place. I've turned my apartment into a one-stop-shop for DIY holiday gifts, and I can't stop baking. It’s gotten so bad that my sister refuses to stop by anymore. She claims that she'll gain 20 pounds BEFORE the holiday feast. I saw she should bake more.

In an effort to indulge in my holiday baking obsession WHILE staying healthy, I thought I'd share some of the recipes I found for healthy holiday cookies! I've made them all and they are absolutely delicious. My sister has even agreed to stop by for some of these :)

Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies
1/4 cup reduced-fat margarine (8 grams of fat per tablespoon), melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
Streusel glaze topping:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water (you can add a teaspoon more, if needed)
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat melted margarine and brown sugar on low speed until combined. Add egg and applesauce; continue to beat till blended (about 2 minutes).
2.   Stop mixer and add oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to bowl with margarine mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl. Stir in cranberries or chosen dried fruit pieces.
3.   Using a cookie scoop, drop dough scoops (about 1/8 cup of dough) onto jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake just until set (about 12 minutes). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
4.   To make icing: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, water and maple flavoring, stirring until smooth. Add another 1/2 teaspoon or two of water for desired drizzling consistency. Put cooled cookies side by side in jellyroll pan and, using a teaspoon, drizzle glaze over cookies.

Yield: Makes about 24 cookies

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 125 calories, 2 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 75 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 14%.

Almond Streusel Cookies
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine (with 8 grams fat per tablespoon)
1/4 cup almond paste, broken up into pieces (do this by rubbing between your fingers)
2 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons water
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (2.25 ounces)
1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan or cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.   In large mixing bowl, cream margarine and almond paste until blended. Beat in half-and-half, sugar, and almond extract.
3.   In medium bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, white flour, baking powder and salt with whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to margarine mixture, beating on low speed just until blended.
4.   Use a leveled cookie scoop of dough (1/8 cup) for each cookie; place scoops 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Pour about 1/4 cup granulated sugar or colored sugar crystals (red and green look festive) into a small, shallow bowl. Coat bottom of a glass with canola cooking spray, dip in the sugar, and then gently flatten cookie balls. Re-dip glass in sugar as needed.
5.   Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until edges are just starting to brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.
6.   For glaze: In small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract, and about 2 teaspoons water (or amount needed for desired consistency). With a teaspoon, drizzle glaze evenly over the cookies and generously top with sliced almonds.

Yield: Makes about 22 cookies
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 140 calories, 2.2 g protein, 19.5 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 0.1 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 74 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 35%.

Tropical Treasure Cookies

The walnuts in these cookies contain healthy plant omega-3s, monounsaturated fat, and important phytochemicals. They also have dark chocolate, which in small amounts may be good for the heart and arteries and may help lower blood pressure (thanks to the flavonoids in cocoa).
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine (with 8 grams fat per tablespoon and no trans fat)
1/4 cup light cream cheese or low-fat yogurt (vanilla or any fruit flavor)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg (use a higher omega-3 brand, if available)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (like Hershey's Special Dark Chips)
2/3 cup flaked coconut
1 cup walnut pieces (or pecan pieces)
1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan or cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.   In medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt with whisk; set aside.
3.   In large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, light cream cheese or low-fat yogurt, and brown sugar on medium speed until blended and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat on medium to blend. Gradually beat in dry ingredients.
4.   Stir the chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts into the dough with a wooden spoon.
5.   Using a cookie scoop level with dough (1/8 cup of dough), place scoops of dough about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 114 calories, 2 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 6.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 91 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 50%.

All of these recipes are provided by Elaine Magee, and can be found here.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Feel free to comment on which recipe you liked best. I also love reading baking stories (the good and the bad) so feel free to share!


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Picture this: Chocolate + Yoga

Now that the title of this blog post has your attention, let me tell you the good news! There is indeed such a thing as CHOCOLATE YOGA.  A woman’s dream come true, right? I’d have to agree with you on that.

I first came across this article while browsing through Twitter one evening. I’ll admit that I did a double take. You don’t normally come across the words “yoga” and “chocolate” together. When I picture yoga, I see sweaty woman holding intense poses while trying not to pass out (maybe that’s just me). I’ll admit that I’ve gotten better at it, but eating chocolate during the session?! This I head to read about.

"The chocolate associated with this type of yoga practice is of the highest quality, find and exotic so that the flavors stand out and intensify the experience.. After the yoga class is concluded different types of chocolate are introduced while you are still on your mat to immediately deepen the sensation."

If this sounds like heaven to you, check out the article I saw here.

And if you try this type of yoga, PLEASE let me know how it goes. 

Thanks! (and good luck)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Autumn Health Tip, Just For You


Can I just say how obsessed I am with this cold weather? There is honestly nothing better than unpacking my scarves from the giant cardboard box in my closet! I know I'm not the only one ;)  Anyway, I'm not here to brag about my extensive scarf collection. Instead, I thought I'd share some helpful information about cholesterol, being that September is National Cholesterol Education Month!

If you're over the age of 20, you should have had a cholesterol (lipid) profile done. The best test is a fasting test (I know, I know - but hear me out). You'll receive all 4 numbers if you fast.  If you'd rather not fast, you can still get your cholesterol and HDL (high density lipoprotein) levels. The best plan is to talk to your healthcare provider about ordering these tests.

SO, now that THAT'S out of the way, let's talk about a cholesterol friendly eating plan. Much more fun, right? The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers (NAMM) provides a simple food chart, which I've included here:

FoodsChoose More OftenChoose Less Often
Meat, Poultry, Fish and ShellfishLean cuts of meat with fat trimmed; poultry without skin; fish and shellfish; lean luncheon meat (e.g., turkey)Fatty cuts of meat; bacon and sausage; organ meats; fried chicken, fried fish and shellfish; high-fat luncheon meat (e.g., salami)
Eggs and DairyEgg whites; egg substitutes; skim or 1% milk; low-fat or nonfat cheeses; low-fat or non-fat yogurtEgg yolks; whole milk or 2% milk; whole milk products (example: cheese, yogurt)
Fats and OilsSoft spread margarine; liquid cooking oils; seeds and nuts.Butter, tropical oils; lard; bacon fat; shortening; partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
Breads, Cereals, Pasta, RiceBreads, cereals, pastas and rice made from whole grainsRefined breads and grain products; granola-type cereals
Fruits & VegetablesFresh, frozen, or canned prepared plain or with lemon juice, broth or small amounts of unsaturated oils or margarine spreads; fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit; 100% fruit juiceVegetables prepared with butter, cheese or cream sauce; fried fruit or fruit served with butter or cream sauce


As you can see, there are plenty of delicious options. The key is to realize which foods you should eat more often (like lean cuts of mean, egg whites, soft spread margarine, whole grain pasta, and fresh fruits and eggies), and which foods to eat less often (fatty cuts of meat, whole milk, butter, refined breads, and fried fruit (?!)).

To find more information and helpful ways to stay cholesterol savy, visit the NAMM website at

Happy Autumn!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Beach Snacks

Say it isn't so! Summer is almost over so I'm FINALLY going on my beach vacation! Granted it's only for the weekend, but it's a vacation nonetheless. A few of my relatives from Ireland are making the trip across the pond to join me, so it's going to be a pretty full house. Do you know what that means? I need to do some serious food shopping!

Because I know how hard it is to snack on the beach, I've been researching quick and healthy snacks to bring (especially for a big group of people). I came across this awesome article in Food Network's Healthy Eat section. They recommend the following snacks:

Dried Fruits and Nuts
Fresh fruit
Banana + peanut butter
Raw veggies
Cooler Must-Haves (low-fat string cheese, Greek yogurt)

Yum! My personal favorite? The banana and peanut butter. It reminds me of a candy bar, but without all the guilt :) I think I'll add watermelon to my list too!

I'm looking forward to lots of sun + sand + water, and all of these delicious (and healthy) snacks! I'll let you know how it goes.

Bye for now!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Perfect Treat for a Rainy Day (promise!)

Hey there,

I was just working away on this rainy afternoon and had the biggest craving for something warm and delicious. I came across a recipe I used last fall and thought I'd share. If you love chocolate and bananas, you'll LOVE this treat! You can even eat them guilt free because the ingredients call for healthy substitutions :) 

Once you make these, they'll instantly become a favorite. Let me know what you think!


Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Makes: 16 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes
Floured baking spray
1/4 cup trans fat-free margarine
2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a muffin-tin baking pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract and continue to beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in the bananas and chocolate chips. Batter will yield 16 muffins when each muffin cup is filled two-thirds full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the muffin comes out clean. Loosen and place muffins onto cooling rack.

Created by 

Jenna Christina for Heart Smart and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. 

Analysis per 1 muffin. 

159 calories (23% from fat), 4 grams fat (2 grams sat. fat, 0 
grams trans fat), 27 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 133 mg sodium, 16 mg cholesterol, 23 mg calcium, 1 gram fiber. Food exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1 fat. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Delicious Weekend


I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend, especially Father's Day! I had a great weekend with my Pops, and of course took the opportunity to walk through my recipe book with him. Since I had spent the majority of my Friday night looking up delicious (and heart healthy) recipes for my family's Father's Day party, I figured it was acceptable to take up a few minutes of his day to share :) He loved it as usual and promised he'd look through the rest of the book another day. He's too sweet.

So, let's talk about the party.. and more importantly, about the food! The biggest success of the day was a surprise to me. I thought for sure these buffalo chicken tenders would be the favorite. Sure, they were gobbled down in less time than it took for me to set the table, but another recipe took the prize. It was my starter! I warmed and sliced a couple loaves of french bread, and then placed them in a pretty little pattern around a bowl of this Italian vegetable spread. I figured I'd walk back to the kitchen to get the buffalo chicken tenders ready but before I could get to the door, I heard the comments. "What is this spread? It's delicious!" and "I need to stop eating this before my thighs start complaining" (that last one was from my Mom, who never misses an opportunity to talk about eating healthy and how all of us need to be mindful of what we eat). I smiled, turned around and headed back to my new "fans." I couldn't wait to tell them that the spread was actually healthy!

Long story short, I must have written the recipe down twenty or more times for my guests. They were so impressed that they swore they'd have a party just so they could serve it! As they were leaving, I was waiting for one more opinion - the one that mattered most. My dad came over to me, kissed my cheek and said, "Emma, I loved the buffalo chicken, thank you" .. he winked and followed with, "..but that veggie spread, that was something special." We both laughed and my dad started towards the car. Just as I was about to close the door, I caught my mom's eye. She winked at me and held up her copy of the recipe. I closed the door smiling and decided to help myself to the very last bit of Italian vegetable spread; a tiny dot on a spoon just for me.