Sunday, December 21, 2014

Potluck Dishes Fit for a Celiac Part II

These delicious stuffed squashes made a nice accessory to our pre-finals dinner of turkey, dressing, cooked kale and multitudes of baked goods. And did I mention they're gluten-free?

4 small acorn squash
1 1/2 lbs of sage bulk sausage, crumbled
1 cup onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, cubed
Non-stick cooking spray
Fresh black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick spray.

Trim a thin slice from both ends of each acorn squash, then cut them in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and bake until very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Turn the squash halves cut side up and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

While the squash bakes, saute the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a spatula as finely as possible as it cooks. Once the sausage is cooked through, transfer it to paper towel-lined platter. Discard most of the fat remaining in the pan, retaining about 1 tablespoon.

Add the onion to the pan and saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking until the celery and onion are lightly caramelized. Add the apple, cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, then return the sausage to the pan and combine well. Taste and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Divide the sausage mixture between the squash halves and return them to the oven. Bake until the apples are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 10 to 12 minutes. Plate and serve immediately.

Allergens: None
Nutrition (1/4 recipe): 400 calories, 24 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 72 mg cholesterol, 651 mg sodium, 864 mg potassium, 31 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 17 g protein, 15% vitamin A, 44% vitamin C, 9% iron, 8% calcium, 18% vitamin B-6, 11% folate, 18% magnesium, 20% manganese, 21% thiamine
Cost (1/4 recipe): $3.42

Adapted from:

Potluck Dishes Fit for a Celiac Part I

In a master's program of over 275 people, there is always someone hosting a dinner, a party or a happy hour. I may be a reluctant cook when I'm home by myself, but I love to cook for others when I get the opportunity! And all the better when I can use my dietitian super powers to feed someone special! 
One of my good friends is a celiac, and when I know she is attending, I am sure to bring something gluten-free! This time the theme was Mexican - a great potluck theme for anyone going gluten-free. Corn tortillas can easily replace flour tortillas in any recipe, and the rest of the fixings tend to be naturally gluten-free. For this enchilada recipe, I just made sure to check the ingredients label to make sure the sauce was safe too.

4 Gluten-free Corn tortillas
4 oz Grilled chicken, sliced
1 1/2 cups Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
2-3 Scallions, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
1 packet Enchilada sauce, Frontera Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap tortillas in plastic wrap. Microwave until steamy, about 30 seconds. Roll 1/4 cup cheese into each warm tortilla. Place side-by-side in small baking dish or pie dish, seam-side down. Cover completely with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, scallions, and olives. Bake 15 minutes.

Allergens: Milk
Nutrition (1 Enchilada): 310 calories, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 64 mg cholesterol, 835 mg sodium, 31 mg potassium, 20 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 19 g protein, 11% vitamin A, 4% vitamin C, 2% iron, 31% calcium
Approximate Cost (1 recipe): $4.87

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cooking Demo Lessons: Mexican Skillet Rice

I just finished testing this recipe to prepare for my demo tomorrow - it actually turned out really well, I would even say it exceeded my expectations!

I learned about the "Simply Cook" online cookbook from a fellow dietitian, and former classmate. The cookbook is kind of like a dietitian's dream come true - it includes cooking basics, nutrition education, food safety and storage information, and most importantly, recipes! The recipes are even designed to focus on food staples found in many food pantries!

I chose the Mexican Skillet Rice for the demonstration for tomorrow because previous participants asked for one-pot meals that were affordable and easy to make. This recipe was a little vague on some details, so I added amounts for the tomato and cheese. I also recommend cooking the onions prior to adding the turkey if you want them to brown well. I estimated that the recipe would produce four portions, but they are very large portions, and are proportionately higher in calories in fat. A more healthy option may be to decrease the portion size. Additionally, half the portion size means half the cost - it would be only $1.75 for 1/8 recipe. I am still getting the hang of combining education and discussion during the demonstrations, but I hope to talk about:
- Use of beans to replace some or all of meat in a recipe
- Rinsing off canned beans to reduce sodium
- Trying to replace white rice with brown rice in recipes
- Cooking rice and chopping onion the night before to speed up the cooking process 
1 lb ground turkey
1 medium chopped onion
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
3 cups cooked rice (I used Texmati Brown Rice)
16 oz can drained pinto beans
2 4 oz cans of diced green chiles
2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheese


In a large skillet cook 1 lb. ground turkey, 1 medium chopped onion and 2 tbsp. taco seasoning for 5 minutes, or until onions are softened. Mix in 3 cups cooked rice, 1 (16-oz.) can drained pinto beans, and 2 (4-oz.) cans diced green chiles. Cook for 5 minutes or until heated through. Top with chopped tomato and shredded cheese.

P.S. After preparing this recipe again, I think it makes closer to six servings, so I included both divisions for the nutrition information below.

Allergens: Milk, Soy? (taco seasoning) 

Nutrition (1/4 recipe): 665 calories, 21 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 130 mg cholesterol, 875 mg sodium, 720 mg potassium, 71 g carbohydrate, 13 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 48 g protein, 32% vitamin A, 22% vitamin C, 33% iron, 28% calcium
Approximate Cost (1/4 recipe): $3.50

Nutrition (1/6 recipe): 445 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 87 mg cholesterol, 584 mg sodium, 481 mg potassium, 48 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 9 g fiber, 32 g protein, 21% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 22% iron, 19% calcium
Approximate Cost (1/6 recipe): $2.33

Recipe From

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Smoothies

Banana, Kale, and Almond Milk Smoothie
In a blender, puree 1 medium banana, 1 cup chopped kale, and 1 cup almond milk until smooth.

201 calories | 5 g fiber | 5 g protein | 4 g fat

We made these smoothies at work on Monday as part of an Employee Health Fair during Commitment Week. It generated a lot of great discussion, but people were not too eager to try it because of the strong kale smell and the bright green color. 

We also used 2% milk because we didn't have almond milk, and a lot of people were hesitant to try it because they were lactose intolerant. Next time we make smoothies, I want experiment with almond milk or soy milk, try using spinach and experiment with a combination of fruits. 

Magic Fruit-and-Veggies "Cupcakes"

I think the "Cupcakes" turned out pretty well, but they really look and taste more like muffins. They would be great for a quick breakfast and are a lot better than some of those oatmeal breakfast bar recipes I've tried. I ended up doubling the recipe, which made 26 muffins.

I ended up using almost an entire zucchini, two small apples, shredded carrots and chopped raisins, and I definitely recommend using some kind of dried fruit to add some sweetness. It seems like a lot of people just use the leftover fruits and vegetables from their juice smoothies, which I think is a great idea! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's National Nutrition Month, hooray?!?

In case you didn't know, it's National Nutrition Month! Every year, RD's spend the month of March making posters and handouts, cooking up delicious food for others to sample, and devoting their time to educating the public and their fellow employees through health fairs and lunch and learns. 

Please tell me what other health profession invests so much time and effort into helping others during the month they should be celebrated? Ahh.. to be a dietitian

So naturally, we dietitians will be at the employee health fair next week... our focus will be fiber and we're planning on baking high fiber cupcakes for everyone to try. Because after all who doesn't want to feel full and poop on the regular?

I plan to test them this week, so I'll keep y'all posted!

Magic Fruit-and-Veggie Cupcakes

Cooking spray (optional)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon soy flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, plus more for topping (optional)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
3/4 cup grated or finely chopped vegetables (carrots, zucchini and/or spinach)
3/4 cup grated or finely chopped fresh or dried fruit (apples, pears, pineapple and/or raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners or mist with cooking spray.

Whisk the flours, wheat germ, pats, flax seeds, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat the egg and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the olive oil, vanilla, milk, vegetables and fruit and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir just until blended

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup about three-quarters of the way. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, egg, milk, soy
Nutrition (1/12 batch): 136 calories, 4.5 g protein, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 164 mg sodium, 119 mg potassium, 23 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 4 g protein, 11% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 6% calcium, 6% iron 

Adapted from:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Making Asparagus A-peeling

I always tell my patients, the worst thing that can happen to their diet is complacence. When you stop working to improve your diet, it will inevitably go in the opposite direction. So I recently set some goals for myself to improve my own diet.

1) Eat more meals at home
2) Cook more meals at home
3) Use more home-cooked meats, rather than processed/packaged meats
4) Bulk up on vegetables at lunch and dinner
5) Use only whole grain products at home

A lot of this has to do with finding products and recipes I enjoy, but also making time to prepare meals ahead of time. At first, this meant using a lot of frozen vegetables and microwaveable rice, and cooking meat in large batches for several days. But eating 90-second brown rice and frozen broccoli everyday can get a little boring, even if it does help me meet my goals. So now that I have a regimen that I am comfortable and happy with, it's time to shake it up a bit.

Asparagus is going to be in season in Maryland soon (this asparagus was from Mexico), so I recently was looking up recipes to use at the produce market at work. We planned to hand out recipes, and have a recipe prepared to taste test. I found a recipe that used uncooked, peeled asparagus in a salad, but I was concerned with how labor intensive it might be. So, I tried peeling zucchini yesterday for my shrimp scampi, and today I bought asparagus to peel and added in some grape tomatoes to my leftover shrimp. Both were delicious!

Peeled asparagus or zucchini are perfect for a saute, in a pasta dish to substitute for some of the noodles, or cold in a salad! I hope this inspires you to try something new, whether it involves asparagus or not!