Dec 31, 2009

Updated Game Day App

We all love a good Chip Buffet, but if you're looking to add some culinary flare to your New Years Day, try these delicious stuffed dates.  People will pop them in their mouths like popcorn!

Stuffed & Wrapped Dates
Medjool Dates (the big ones--CA dates are too tedious to work with, even if already pitted)
Mascarpone Cheese
Blue cheese
Toasted Pecan Halves
Prosciutto di Parma (optional)

Leave cheeses at room temperature for 30 minutes so they're softer and easier to work with.  Scoop some Mascarpone cheese into a bowl, then crumble desired amount of blue cheese into the Mascarpone and mix together with a small spatula.  I usually use about 1-2 tbsp blue cheese for 1/4 cup Mascarpone (this amount stuffs at least 20 dates), but use however much you want depending on how strong of a blue cheese taste you like.  (If you're not a blue cheese fan, you can do half Mascarpone and half goat cheese),

Remove pits from dates by slicing one side open enough to pull the pit out.  Using a small spoon, small icing spatula, or butter knife, stuff a small amount of the cheese into each date.  Then stuff a pecan half into the cheese and set date aside.

Take a thin slice of prosciutto and cut it lengthwise into 3 long strips.  Place a date at one end of one of the strips and roll it up in the prosciutto.  Repeat with remaining dates & prosciutto slices.  (To make vegetarian, just omit the prosciutto.  Or, wrap date in a large basil leaf and stick a toothpick in it so it holds).


Dec 30, 2009

A Healthy & Enjoyable January

This is the time of year when we've all indulged a little too much, and have our sights set on January 1st as "the day" when we'll get our act together eating-wise (or maybe the Monday after, for those who want to eat nachos while watching bowl games).

While goals to eat less, drink less and work out more, etc, are good goals theoretically, they probably won't last, because temptation will pop up again before too long.  So instead of thinking of January as the time when you'll start being good to your body, I propose that you start NOW.  Not with a strict diet, a fast, a cleanse, or anything unpleasant.  Instead, with some small but specific goals that will eventually help you reach your larger goals.

Small, realistic, specific goals are great because you can start on them this very minute, without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated, and they're clear enough so you know exactly what to do.  Some examples:
  • When eating out, put half of your meal into a to-go box before you even start eating.  Save the leftovers for a future meal.
  • Put a post-it note on your refrigerator door that lists 3 activity ideas you can do when you're about to eat out of boredom.  (e.g. organize desk drawer, walk to drugstore to buy newest US Weekly, put on favorite song/sit down/close eyes/regain focus, read an interesting article on
  • Stop buying ______ (insert your favorite junk food), so that the temptation is not within arms reach.
  • Make a grocery list and meal plan every Sunday, taking into account your schedule for the week, and how many times you'll realistically eat in.
  • Keep individually-portioned bags of nuts & dried fruits in your purse, glove compartment, gym bag, etc, for healthy snacks between meals.  (If you're ravenous at mealtime, you'll overeat). 
  • Order drip coffee at Starbucks, instead of the usual latte/mocha/frappuccino.  Add milk or sugar yourself, to save on calories.
  • Don't drink on weeknights.  Save a glass of wine or a beer for a weekend treat (big time calorie saver)
  • Replace one serving of bread/meat/cheese/sweets each day with a fruit or vegetable.
  • Weigh yourself once a week (on the same day) to keep yourself aware of how your habits are affecting your body.
  • Whatever goals are relevant to you & your lifestyle
These may seem like insignificant steps when you're desperate to shed your holiday pounds, but if you start with one, add another in a couple weeks, another a few weeks after that, and so on, you'll be losing weight and/or getting healthier faster than you think.  To boot, you won't be feeling deprived or depressed....which means you may actually stick with these.  And that would be an enormous feat, in the world of weight loss.

Dec 16, 2009

Find what you're looking for!

I just added a "search" feature to my blog, so that when you come looking for a specific recipe or idea you remember liking, but can't remember when it was posted, you can just put it in the search bar (appears on the right side) and boom!  There it is.  Hope it's helpful!

Peppermint Brownies

Before I give you this recipe, I'll give a disclaimer: Make these when you're going somewhere and need to bring something, NOT when you're bored at home and want a treat around the house. They are too good to stop, so you should arrange sharing them asap.

Peppermint Brownies -- Shortcut Version
1 package Ghiradelli Chocolate Brownie Mix
Eggs -- however many it says on the box
Oil -- however much it says on the box
Peppermint Schnapps -- replace half the water it calls for with Peppermint Schnapps
2 oz mint chocolate chips or chunks, melted (Trader Joe's has good mint dark chocolate chips)
2 (approx) Tbsp milk, half & half, or cream
1/2 cup Candy Canes pieces (smashed into little bits)

Prepare brownies according to package directions, only sub Peppermint Schnapps for 1/2 the water.  (To make without alcohol, just add 1 tsp peppermint extract and do everything else the package instructions say).  Grease a baking pan, pour in batter, and bake for 1/2 the baking time.  

Meanwhile, melt mint chocolate with 1-2 Tbsp milk in microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring in between.  Every 20 seconds, add a little more milk, half & half, or cream if necessary, and gently stir in until smooth.  Chocolate should become a sauce consistency: runny enough so you can pour it, but still thick like hot fudge.  After the brownies have baked for 1/2 the time, pull them out, drizzle the chocolate sauce over them, then sprinkle them with the candy cane shavings.  Return to oven for the remaining bake time.  (They may take a bit longer to cook, so put them in for more time if necessary but check often so they don't overcook).

If you want the non-shortcut version of this recipe, email me and I'll be happy to provide.

Dec 12, 2009

Christmas Party Idea

A client of mine has these porcelain gingerbread houses that light up, so for her Christmas party last night we built a plot of "snow" with icing and coconut, and created a village of gingerbread figures.  It turned out so cute!

Dec 9, 2009

Quinoa with Latin Flavors

Super tasty side dish from Eating Well magazine.  Turn this into a complete meal by adding 1 can black beans, 2 cups thawed frozen corn, 1 diced avocado, and 1 pint halved cherry tomatoes.

Dec 6, 2009

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

Making your own bread sounds hard, but it's not.  In fact, it's the perfect activity for a weekend when you're catching up on stuff around the house.  This is my favorite bread recipe of the moment, given to me by my friend Kathy, and based on the recipe by the Hell's Backbone Grill in Utah.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread
1 cup organic rolled oats
2 cups hot water
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
5 1/2 cups bread flour

Pour the hot water over the oats and in a large bread bowl and let stand for 15 min.  Add melted butter, salt and molasses (1/2 cup).  In separate bowl, add 1 tablespoon yeast to 1/2 cup lukewarm water with the tsp of sugar.  Let the yeast get foamy and then add to the oats mixture.  Mix in flour until tacky but not sticky texture.  Knead dough well for about 10 minutes or so.  If on the dry side, knead on oiled surface.  If too sticky, add more flour.

Oil the bowl and top of dough, cover with damp kitchen towel.  Let rise in warm place for two hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down and shape into loaves (2 regular size) and place in buttered pan.  Let rest for at least another 30 minutes or until doubled in size. 

Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook another 35 minutes or so until done - sound hollow when tapped (although I use 350 degree oven and it is just fine).  Remove from pan and cool on rack or towel.


Dec 3, 2009

Mushroom Barley Soup

A hearty, healthy go-to -- this soup will warm you from the inside out and keep you satisfied!

Dec 1, 2009

Weight Loss Secret: Get Enough Sleep!

Lack of sleep may be sabotaging your healthy eating efforts, since people who sleep less seem to snack more...probably because they're reaching for a boost of energy that they didn't get from a good night's sleep.

If you find yourself reaching for food during the late afternoon slump or when watching TV at night, make a plan to give yourself more nighttime hours for sleep.  It could be as simple as turning off the TV a 1/2 hour earlier, skipping a weekday social event, or just making a pact with yourself to be in bed by a certain time every night when you know you have to wake up early.

Feeling rested is not only good for your waistline - it's also good for your mood, your relationships, and for staying well during flu season.  So stop reading this blog post, and head off for a snooze!