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Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is coming up this weekend so I thought I would post some recipes I have found from around the web that would be both a delicious and nutritious addition to your holiday festivities. Enjoy!

Socal Guacamole Burger; Cooking Light

This burger, made with lean ground sirloin is topped with guacamole and alfalfa sprouts. Findings from a pilot study at UCLA have indicated that eating 1/2 a medium haas avocado with a hamburger may decrease certain inflammatory markers when compared to eating a hamburger alone despite the increase in fat and calories that the avocado contributed.

Spicy Grilled Sweet Potatoes; Cooking Light

Full of vitamin a and flavor, these grilled potatoes are a much better choice then deep fried French fries.

Grilled Sweet Chili Lime Chicken; The Recipe Critic

Grilled chicken breasts is a great healthy option. Use a reduced sodium soy sauce to help cut down on the sodium.

Blue Cheese Portobello Burgers; Eating Well

For all those vegetarians out there, portobello caps make a great burger substitute.

Fruit kebobs are always a healthy and refreshing treat. The flag pattern makes it extra fun!

Fourth of July Mini Berry Cheesecakes; Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

Super cute dessert! Reduced fat dairy products along with the pre-portion size helps to decrease calories and saturated fat.

Savory Buckwheat Crepes with Spinach, Tomatoes and Mushrooms

This super easy crepe recipe is made up of whole grains and vegetables to help start your day off right. The whole grains and vegetables can help you feel full because of their fiber content, and the vegetables I used also help provide essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium and iron. These are important for things such as vision, wound healing, bone health, heart health, and delivering oxygen to different parts of our body.

When trying to formulate my recipe, I did find quite a few crepe recipes that said it was best to refrigerate the batter for at least an hour before cooking to help decrease the risk of tearing the crepes. Therefore, I decided to make the batter the night before so I could start making crepes as soon as I woke up. I didn’t have any issues with the crepes tearing or sticking to the pan so I think I will continue to use that method in the future.

For the Batter:

1 Cup Buckwheat Flour

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

3 Large Eggs

1 Cup Skim Milk

2 Tablespoons Water

For the Veggie Filling:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 8oz Package of Raw Sliced Mushrooms

1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic

2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme

2 Large Tomatoes

2 1/2 Cups Ā Packed Fresh Baby Spinach

Nonfat or Reduced Fat Cheese to Top (if desired)

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl or tupperware. Add milk, eggs and water and whisk until blended well. Cover and refrigerate over night or for at least an hour. Heat a skillet (approximately 10″) over medium high heat and lightly spray with cooking oil. Add crepe batter (a little less than 1/4 cup at a time) and tilt pan around to spread batter mixture. Flip with a large metal spatula after the edges look slightly browned and are starting to curl up (about 30 seconds). Cook on the opposite side forĀ about another 30 seconds and then remove from heat. Stack crepes on a wire cooling rack, use wax or parchment paper to separate them if sticking to each other. Continue to repeat until all the batter is used. Makes approximately 12 crepes that are 6″ in diameter.

To make the filling add olive oil to skillet and heat to medium/low. Add mushrooms, garlic and thyme once skillet is hot. Stir. While the mushroom mixture is cooking, chop tomatoes and then add to skillet. Mix and continue cooking until tomatoes are warm. Turn skillet to low and add spinach, stirring until spinach is warm and slightly wilted. Remove from heat. The vegetable mixture may be a little watery depending on the kind of tomatoes you use. If it is watery, just use a slotted spoon or fork to scoop out the vegetables so your crepes do not get soggy.

Put topping in the center of crepes and sprinkleĀ with reduced fat or nonfat cheese if desired. (I used nonfat feta cheese) Fold crepes over veggies and serve.

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Whole Grain Pasta with Spicy Peanut Sauce

If you are bored of tomato sauce on your pasta this is a great and very different alternative. Cook your pasta (whole grain of course), throw in some cooked veggies and top with an easy flavorful sauce that is full of heart healthy peanuts. If you like, you can add in some left over chicken from the previous nights meal or if you are a vegetarian, tofu would also be great in this dish. Personally, I like to just sprinkle a few peanuts over the top to give it a little bit of crunch, and maybe a little piece or two of chicken.

Serves 6


12 oz Whole Grain Pasta (long pasta such as spaghetti, fettuccine or capellini works best)

Cooking Oil Spray

Florets Chopped from 1 Head of Broccoli or approximately 3.5 Cups of Broccoli Florets

1 Cup Shredded Carrots

1 8oz package of sliced Mushrooms

1 8oz package of Mung Bean Sprouts

5 Tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter

4-5 Tablespoons of Hot Water

1/4 Cup Reduced Sodium Soy or Tamari Sauce

2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger

2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

1 Teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat and spray lightly with cooking oil. Add broccoli florets and carrots. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the ginger and 1 teaspoon of the garlic. Stir to coat. Continue cooking for a few minutes until warm and slightly cooked but still firm. Mix in mushrooms followed by bean sprouts. Stir and cook for a few more minutes until vegetables are almost as desired and then turn stove top to a medium low. Add peanut butter to a small mixing bowl and add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time while mixing with peanut butter in order to make it a thinner consistency. (The water must be hot to help melt the peanut butter and make itĀ easier to stir) Add soy sauce and mix until uniform. Add 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon garlic and 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce and mix. Turn off heat on the stove top if vegetables are cooked as desired. If not, continue cooking until desired and then turn off heat. Add peanut sauce to veggies and mix to coat. Add cooked pasta and mix until well blended.

Whole Grain Pasta with Spicy Peanut Sauce 007

Summer Grilling

Summer is a great time to be outside with family and fire up the grill for some quick and easy meals. But before you start charring your meats there are a few things you should know. Some studies based on food frequency questionnaires have found an association with certain cancers and a high consumption of meats that are fried, well done, or barbecued. Additionally, animal studies show that when heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (produced from meats cooked at high temperatures or over an open flame) are supplemented in the diet of rodents, several types of tumors or cancers could form. Of note, the amount supplemented in the rodents diets were very high. There are a few things you can do to help decrease your intake of the carcinogens that can form during the grilling process:

1. Avoid charring your meats. If there is a burnt spot, cut it off.

2. Choose leaner meats to help prevent the dripping of grease into the open flame.

3. Don’t reuse the drippings for gravy or sauces.

4. Continually turn meat over.

5. Don’t just eat a pile of meat, throw some veggies or pineapple on the grill.

6. Don’t grill your meat everyday, but if you do find yourself grilling a lot, try cooking your meat in the oven for a little bit first to reduce the cooking time on the grill.

Have a safe and healthy summer!

Strawberry Dessert Bites

For Memorial Day I wanted to make a quick, easy and healthy bite size dessert. I found a lot of recipes for stawberries filled with a cheesecake type filling that looked delicious, but had entirely too much saturated fat, calories and sugar for my liking. But I loved the idea of filling a strawberry to make a bite sized treat. Strawberries are full of fiber, vitamin C, and multiple other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Research shows that eating strawberries may decrease cancer risk, improve cardiovascular health and boost cognitive functioning so you can definitely feel good about eating these tasty treats! For my filing I decided to useĀ neufchatel cheese (like cream cheese but with 1/3 less fat), nonfat plain greek yogurt to cut the fat and calorie content further, a small amount of sugar (1 teaspoon) and pure vanilla extract. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and they were so simple and easy to make.

1 -16 oz box of Fresh Strawberries (approx 20 berries)
4 oz Neufchatel Cheese
1/4 Cup Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Clean the strawberries and remove the center of each strawberry with a small paring knife to make a hole for the filling. See picture below. Combine remaining ingredients (cheese, yogurt, sugar and vanilla extract) together in a bowl and mix well. Once well blended, scoop filling into each berry with a small spoon. If you want it to look more professional and fancy you can try using a cake decorator or icing bag. (I just scooped the filling in with a spoon because I was in a rush…. that is why mine look a little messy) Refrigerate until ready to serve. Super easy!
Ā Strawberry Dessert Bites 003Strawberry Dessert Bites 010
Nutrition Info
Serving Size: Approx 4 Strawberries
Calories: 95
Carbohydrates: 7.6 g
Protein: 3.7 g
Fat: 5.4 g
Saturated Fat: 2.9 g
Fiber: 1.4 g

Greek Yogurt

I love greek yogurt. The first time I tried it, I remember thinking it was very different. Growing up we mostly ate the flavored yogurt that was sweet and creamy. I remember putting lemon and strawberry yogurt in the freezer and waiting eagerly for it to freeze. Then I could have a special treat that my brothers and sister would be jealous of and wished they thought of my good frozen treat idea. šŸ˜›

Both regular nonfat or low fat yogurt as well as regular nonfat or low fat greek yogurt are both low in calories and chock full of calcium as well as live bacteria cultures making them both healthy choices. Studies have shown that dairy products can help with weight loss and live bacteria cultures are important for a healthy gut and immune system. Greek yogurt does have a slight edge over conventional yogurt, it is thicker and has more protein which can help you feel fuller longer and also has less sugar due to the straining process. Extra sugar can be added during processing for flavor so make sure you check your labels and avoid the ones with lots of added sugar. I prefer to just go plain so I buy the nonfat greek yogurt without any flavorings or additives. Here are some of my favorite choices:

greek yogurt 004

The Dannon Oikos Greek Nonfat Plain Yogurt (5.3oz container) has 80 Calories, 15g Protein, 6g Carbohydrates, 0g Fat and 15% of your daily Calcium needs.

The Fage Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt (6ozs) contains 100 Calories, 18g Protein, 7g Carbohydrates, 0g Fat, and 20% of your daily Calcium needs.

The Chobani Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt (5.3oz) has 90 Calories, 15g Protein, 7g Carbohydrates, 0g Fat, and 15% of your daily Calcium needs.

I do like a little bit of sweetness in my greek yogurt so I usually like to add some fruit and a little drizzle of honey. I prefer adding my own flavorings because I can use fresh fruit and control the amount of sugar. Here is a recipe that is only 135-155 calories to get you started:

1 container Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt (5.3-6oz)

1/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries

1/4 Cup Fresh Sliced Strawberries

1 Teaspoon of Honey

Scoop yogurt in a bowl or parfait glass. Top yogurt with blueberries, strawberries and honey. Enjoy!

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