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Easy Weeknight Dinners with O Organics

25 Oct

Easy Weeknight Dinners with O Organics

Fall has befallen us! As the cooler weather sets in, our minds start migrating to warm, comforting foods that taste best when cooked at home.

Last week I had the chance to partner with O Organics on Palm Springs’ Desert Living show to bring you some super easy ways to make weeknight dinners in a snap.

 

 

Did you know that 60 years ago the typical American family dinnertime lasted 90 minutes. Fast forward to today where families spend 12 minutes eating their evening meal together!

Even though we have less time, we don’t have to compromise on taste, quality or health – and O Organics makes it incredibly easy to add organic items into everyday meals without a lot of time, money or effort.

In the Southern California area, O Organics is available at Albertsons and Vons. They feature more than 300 items for every occasion throughout the grocery store: from fresh fruits and vegetables, to wholesome dairy and meats, cereals, snacks and more.

Below are just a few of my favorite O Organics recipes. I love their ideas for making main courses in muffin tins. They’re perfect for portioning and you can batch cook ahead of time and freeze for fast weeknight meals.

And while you’re dabbling in dinner prep, it never hurts to sneak in a dessert and even throw together something for tomorrow’s breakfast. These German Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are no-bake and a huge hit in my house. And O Organics PB&J Overnight Oats are so easy and delicious, I’m tempted to eat them before morning comes!

 

Muffin Tin Meatloaves by O Organics

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Ingredients

  • 1 O Organics egg
  • 1/2 cup O Organics salsa, plus more
  • 1 pound O Organics lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 9 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, add egg, salsa, chili powder and salt; whisking with a fork to combine. Stir in oats. Fold in ground beef gently until all ingredients are evenly incorporated into the beef.
  • Coat a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Divide ground beef mixture among 9 of the muffin tins, pressing the beef down slightly in the center.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and add a teaspoon of salsa to the center of each meatloaf, and top each with a tablespoon of cheddar cheese. Put meatloaves back into the oven for another 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  • Remove from oven and let cool 2-3 minutes, then remove mini meatloaves from muffin tin and serve!

 

3 Cheese Muffin Tin Pasta by O Organics

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked O Organics penne pasta
  • 3 O Organics eggs
  • 2 cups half-moon slices of zuchini
  • 2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk eggs for 1 minute. Stir in Colby Jack cheese and garlic powder. Add pasta and veggies, and stir to coat noodles in mixture. Add Parmesan, and stir again to coat fully.
  • In a 12-cound muffin tin sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, divide mixture equally among each muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each with a teaspoon of crumbled feta.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees F, until fully cooked through but not overdone. Remove and let cool 5 minutes. Remove pasta from muffin tins (if needed, take a butter knife along the edges to loosen the pasta – it should remove easily), and serve.

 

German Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup O Organics creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup pecan chips, toasted
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeed

Directions

  • In a bowl, stir together peanut butter, oats, coconut, pecan chips, honey, cocoa powder and flaxseed. If mixture is too sticky, add another teaspoon or so of ground flaxseed until it reaches a good consistency.
  • Roll into balls about 2 tablespoons each. Top with extra coconut flakes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

PB&J Overnight Oats

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon O Organics strawberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons O Organics creamy or crunchy peanut butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Directions

  • In a small clear jar, spread strawberry preserves and 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter on the sides of the jar. In another cup, mix together oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, and almond milk. Pour oat mixture into clear jar. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  • In the morning, top oats with chopped apple. Slightly warm maple syrup with 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Drizzle on top of apple and enjoy!

For the full Desert Living Easy Weeknight Dinners segment with O Organics, please click here.

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with the products mentioned in this post; I was not paid to write this post but I was paid for the product mentions in the TV segment appearing in the post.

Not so Fat Tuesday Tips

9 Feb

Not so Fat Tuesday Tips

Fat Tuesday has arrived! It’s the hedonistic last hurrah before Lent begins tomorrow.

Today I had the opportunity to go on the San Diego Living show to demonstrate ways to celebrate Fat Tuesday without sacrificing your figure. (Click here for the link) Check out some my Mardi Gras diet makeover tips:

 

Get Your Good Fats On

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  • Not all fats are created equal. A study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that corn oil, like Mazola, helps lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil
  • I love cooking with corn oil because of both its taste and nutrition benefits: corn oil has a very mild flavor profile and it also contains more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils (4 times ore than olive oil and 40% more than canola oil!)
  • This Orange Rosemary Skillet Chicken Thighs with Wilted Kale recipe from Mazola.com is a great way to incorporate these good fats and to dress up a weeknight dinner just in time for Mardi Gras

 

Ply Your Guests with Pomegranate Juice

POM Wonderful

  • Forget those boozy, slushy Hurricane drinks that will pack on the pounds. This year I’m serving my drinks with a pomegranate juice base
  • Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice is 100% pomegranate juice, with no fillers or additives, no added sugar or preservatives and plus it’s gluten free
  • An 8 oz serving of 100% pomegranate juice contains juice from 2 whole pomegranates. Serve it up with alcohol, or without: check out the Pomtini recipe here or the Spiced Pom Cider recipe for a nonalcoholic offering

 

Practice the Pistachio Principle

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  • Snack calories can creep up on you, which is why I prefer to serve pistachios at my parties. Two preliminary studies suggest that eating in-shell pistachios may offer a visual cue about how much has been eaten, potentially curbing calorie intake.
  • Pistachios are one of the lowest-fat, lowest-calorie snack nuts. There are 49 pistachios in a 160 calorie serving (1/2 cup in shell or 1/4 cup out of shell), not to mention these guys are a good source of protein and fiber, tasty on their own, roasted and salted, or in delicious flavors like sweet chili and salt and pepper.

 

Sweet Scarletts to Seal the Meal Deal

Sweet Scarletts

  • I have a nasty sweet tooth, but I’ve found these wonderful Sweet Scarletts Texas Red Grapefruits can curb my cravings with their incredible flavor
  • Half of a medium grapefruit gives me 100% of my daily vitamin C, and they’re naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium-free in just 60 delectable calories
  • Tonight at my Mardi Gras party I’ll be wrapping up the festivities with bruleed Sweet Scarlett grapefruits with brown sugar for dessert.

 

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with the brands featured in this post and the segment.

Auld Lang Fiber Snacks

29 Dec

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, you may be banging your head on the kitchen counter deciding what to serve family & friends for the final festivities.

But don’t fret just yet – I’ve teamed up with Kohnstamm Communications to bring you a quick rundown of some high fiber foods that will blow your guests’ mind this New Year’s Eve:

Among Friends Baking Mixes

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Looking for a homemade treat without the hassle? Among Friends hand-crafted baking mixes include gluten-free brownie, cookie and cake mixes that are loaded with whole grains and great flavor. Check out ‘Liv it Up Chocolate Cake Mix with its brown rice flour, gluten-free whole grain oat flour and 3 grams dietary fiber per delicious serving.

 

Angie’s Boomchickapop

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Fiber and fun collide in Angie’s Boomchickapop – an addicting, gluten-free, non-GMO popcorn snack. With flavors like Holidrizzle and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, you’ll love the way these simple ingredient snacks grace your plate. Check out the Lightly Sweet Popcorn flavor for 3 grams of fiber per 120 calorie serving.

 

Biena Foods

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Craving a crunch but over nuts? Biena Foods‘ protein-packed chickpea snacks are the answer. My personal favorite is the Cinnamon Crunch flavor, slightly sweet but super savory – and 5 grams protein, 6 grams fiber per 120 calorie serving to boot!

 

Grainful

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Are you seeking a smarter side? Grainful makes mouthwatering entrees and sides made with 100% whole grain steel cut oats.  Whip up one of these heart-healthy dishes like Tomato Risotto, Cheesy Oats, Jambalaya or Madras Curry (with 5g fiber!) that will torque your tastebuds.

 

Way Better Snacks

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Sprouted grains are going to be all the rage in 2016! Why not get a head start with Way Better Snacks’ delicious gluten-free chips in fantastic flavor profiles such as Sweet Chili, Sweet Potato and the special holiday edition Oh My Sweet Punkin’ Cranberry? Not only are sprouted grains easier to digest and increase nutrient availability, but these Way Better Snack chips also pack 3 g dietary fiber or more per serving.

 

For more tips on holiday entertaining, check out my “Give Guests What They Need – And Want” post available here.

 

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with Biena Foods and Way Better Snacks; I was not paid for any product mentions in this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post. 

The Science of Comfort Food

30 Nov

The Science of Comfort Food

As we hit the height of holiday celebrations, comfort food plays an increasingly prominent role in some people’s lives. But there’s an actual science behind why we perceive certain foods to be more “comforting” than others.

Food psychology expert and Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think author Brian Wansink describes comfort foods as “high calorie foods people consume when stressed and that are believed to relieve negative moods and evoke a state of pleasure.”

Last week I had the opportunity to appear on the San Diego PBS show Mid-Day to discuss the science behind comfort food. I was interviewed alongside Jordan Troisi, a psychology professor from Sewanee. Dr. Troisi’s research on comfort food was recently published in the journal Appetite, and his most recent paper found that:

  • Comfort food provides us with “social utility”
  • Our social needs are important in driving non-social factors (such as eating)
  • We have a need to exhibit social connection and can do so by choosing foods with certain associations

Although most comfort foods are of the higher-calorie, higher-fat nature, there are a few tips for keeping comfort foods in check this upcoming holiday season:

  • Eat unhealthy comfort foods less often or in smaller portions
  • Balance intake of less-than-healthy comfort foods with increases in physical activity
  • Make healthier swaps to lighten up comfort foods that preserve the integrity of the dish

Some ideas for healthier comfort food swaps this season:

  • If you’re a mashed potato maven – try subbing cauliflower for half of the mashed potato to cut calories without compromising taste
  • Mac & cheese your comfort food of choice? – use whole wheat pasta and reduced fat cheese or lower fat dairy ingredients in your home-made dish
  • For chilis and stews that warm your heart – swap in extra lean ground meat, bulk up with the beans and serve over whole grain pasta or brown rice for a nutritious bump

For more information on healthy comfort foods, check out these great comfort food recipes from Cooking Light and the PBS interview on the science behind comfort foods available here.

 

National Healthy Lunch Day

17 Nov

National Healthy Lunch Day

There’s a lot happening on the diabetes front this month – it’s American Diabetes Month and today is National Healthy Lunch Day, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.

The intent of National Healthy Lunch day is to ignite a dialogue about the importance of healthy eating and moving the country towards healthier lunch habits – both today, and beyond.

One of the key tenets of good health and weight management is preparing more of your food yourself…while eating less food from restaurants and other prepared food establishments.

When you cook at home – YOU are in ultimate control. In fact, a study presented just last week at the American Heart Association’s 2015 scientific sessions found that eating more homemade meals may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In this study of 58,000 females from the Nurses Health Study and 41,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were followed for 36 years found that:

  • People who ate about two homemade lunches or dinners each day — or about 11-14 meals a week — had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to people who ate less than six homemade lunches or dinners a week.

Preparing foods at home helps you contain cost, contain calories, boost fiber intake and minimize unwanted weight gain.

So this National Healthy Lunch Day – get packing your own lunch with some easy-to-use tools available for download from the American Heart Association here.