Tuesday, December 15, 2009

End of the Semester

At long last, this semester has ended. It was a rather stressful one! Next semester will be my last on the east coast... and then we're headed to California. I have so much to be thankful for as the holidays draw closer. Most of all, and I'd like to thank my friends and family for their support over the last 14 weeks. Between travel, moving, and car accidents, I had my hands full. Thank you all for your care and support... I was fed when I was sick. I was comforted when I was alone. I was listened to on many a late night phone call. And so many of you prayed for me and my family during these past weeks. Thank you.

I was recently asked by a friend in Spain for a good latke recipe. Not only is this one good, but it's healthier than traditional latkes because they are baked, not fried. Leaving plenty of room to indulge in a Christmas cookie or two this season. Happy Holidays everyone! May the new year bring you happiness, health and wealth!!

Baked Sweet Potato Latkes (Russet potatoes may be used as well if you're the traditional type.)

Nonstick spray
2 large egg whites
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
t tsp minced onion
2 1/2 lbs (about 3) sweet potatoes, peeled
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Shred potatoes using a food process (or a box grater if you want a workout), place in a colander in a sink and press out any excess moisture. In a large bowl, mix egg whites, flour, lemon juice,onion, potatoes, and salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Put mixture on cookie sheet in about 12 mounds, pressing down with a spoon to make a patty.

Bake 15 minutes, flip latkes and bake 15 minutes more or until your pancakes are brown and crispy. Serve with thick greek yogurt for dipping (instead of sour cream).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School for Fall... the Blog is back!

The leaves are turning. The mornings are cooler. The market has more apples than peaches... yep folks, it's fall. And since today is the first day of September (and I've listened to the demands of my adoring public), posts to the blog will begin again.

We've had a very busy summer. The husband and I are relocating to California, so I'll be enrolling in a new school after this semester. Our little blue house sold in just two short weeks, so I'll be moving to another kitchen. We've been busy packing, planning, selling, buying, disposing and gathering! And secretly, its been a relief not being in classes-- I've got my hands full, and in the much relished down time, gotten my nose stuck in more than one book lately that's NOT about food.

Classes begin tomorrow. I'll be working on my last few credits. Taking a grant writing class, an education practicum and a food safety course. Be ready to learn about HACCP! In preparation, I've begun reading Marion Nestle's "Safe Food." It's a interesting read thus far, and my husband was amused to learn about the complex system of food regulation in America. Did you know the USDA regulates hot dogs in pastry dough, but the FDA regulates hot dogs in bagel dough? In total, nearly 16 government agencies all have a hand in our food monitoring systems. It's no wonder things can sometimes go wrong.

I'll leave my readers with one summer recipe that I've had a few requests for-- Aji Verde Sauce. This delicious condiment is native to Peru. My own concoction probably does no justice to its Peruvian original, but it's great on chicken nonetheless! Also great as a dip for carrots or baked tortilla chips. Delightfully green and fresh!

Aji Verde Sauce

1 can diced green chilies, drained
1 tbsp light mayonnaise
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp diced garlic
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, washed, dried and stems removed
1 tbsp olive oil or more
salt, pepper and Tobasco sauce.

In a food processor, combine chilies, mayo, lime juice, garlic and parsley. Pulse a few minutes, streaming in olive oil until mixture is creamy. Add salt, pepper and a few drops of Tobasco to taste. Continue to blend until smooth.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Summer Squeeze

Ok, so just when I thought Spring was coming to an end and I'd get a little breathing room, I decided to pick up a couple courses over the summer. Not a problem, except I am taking Chemistry from another school. Who's summer semester starts before my school's Spring session ends. So for the next couple of weeks, I will be double booked, running from one campus to the next, trying in vain to finish up and also begin. Crazy? yes. Worth it? totally. I will be finished with classes by June 25. And hopefully graduate before Shiloh Jolie-Pitt does.

Chem 101. Not much to say about this class. It's your basic old fashioned chemistry class, and it hasn't changed much since high school (Thanks, Mr. Rupert.) Atoms are still atoms. Haven't willfully tried to drink the hydrochloric acid just yet, but we're only in week 1 of 7.

Also on my plate this summer is Nutrition 192. I know, very descriptive title. Class begin mid-May, so more on that later.

This Friday I get the opportunity to present my research findings at the state dietetic conference. Very cool. Many, many thanks to all the volunteers who let me interview them, my proofreading husband, and my professors and classmates who's input was so valuable along the way. If you are a participant who requested to see final results, a more detailed report will be sent to you by email in a few weeks. Not a participant but still interested in results? Let me know and I will email them to you as well. Additionally, my professors are encouraging me to try and publish, so we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Adding In"salt" to Injury

Last night I was asked by a family member to answer a tricky question about salt. And in this particular spousal disagreement, the wife was right. I hope she doesn't rub it in too much. There's nothing worse than POURING SALT ON A WOUND! hah!

Anyways, thought I'd share...

Q: I am preparing food for someone on a low sodium diet. I heard
that I can use sea salt in the foods that I prepare for him because sea salt is not sodium chloride, but potassium chloride. What do you think?

A: Sea salt is still sodium chloride. In 1/4 tsp (about one serving), there are 392 mgs of sodium. Some people on low sodium diets prefer to season with sea salt as opposed to table salt because the flavor is more intense, and a little goes a long way. But, salt is salt is salt.

Potassium chloride is a salt substitute, but potassium may also be inappropriate for people with kidney, liver or heart problems. So, ask a doctor before loading up on salt substitutes in meals for anyone on this special diet. "Low sodium" salts still contain sodium as well, so be careful.

In my humble opinion, there's no great "salty" substitute for salt. The best way to stick to a low sodium diet is to flavor with herbs, spices and citrus instead. Skip the seasoning salts, meat tenderizers, BBQ sauces, bouillon cubes and bottled marinades. They are loaded with sodium.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eats Shoots and Leaves?

This week's post is all about vegetables! Be sure you are eating at least 3-5 servings a day (a serving is about 1/2 cup), and eat a variety of colors in your diet to truly benefit from these little wonders. Nearly all vegetables are low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals.

Did you know that vegetables are classified by what part of the plant they come from? And vegetables come from ALL parts of a plant:

Leaves- That's right folks... love 'em and "leaf" 'em. Lettuces, kale, parsley, spinach, bok choy and brussel sprouts are all examples of plants that have edible leaves.

Stems and shoots- Sometimes, the veggie part of plant is the trunk or stem. Examples include fennel, celery and asparagus. Store these vegetables like flowers (upright, with the bottoms submerged in water) in the fridge and they will last a few days longer.

Bulbs- "Head" below ground to harvest chives, leeks, onions, shallots and garlic. HA!

Roots- Also located underground are the root vegetables-- beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, and jicama. A sweet potato is a root veggie, but a potato is not. Read on...

Tubers - Potatoes, sunchokes/Jerusalam artichokes and ginger root are all known as tubers. What's the difference between a tuber and a root? Well, remove the root of the plant, and it dies. Remove the tuber, and the plant can still live. And, the plant will probably produce a new tuber to replace the one you just oh-so-tastily baked up and ate. Tubers also have the ability to sprout new growth. Leave a carrot in water for a week and it will still be a chunk of carrot. Do the same to a potato, and you'll soon have a houseplant.

Seeds- Back above ground, veggies that are seeds mostly look like, well... seeds. Take an ear of corn, peas, lentils or beans, for example. While these foods are all technically vegetables, take note of portion size when eating. They are the highest in fiber and protein, but also the highest in calories. When planning a menu, I often think of these veggies (and potatoes as well) as more of the "starch" componant.

Fruits- Yes, fruits! By strict botanical definition, a fruit contains the reproductive part of a plant. Many of us know the tomato has been having an identity crisis for years, but did you know avocados, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, eggplants, okra and squash all are fruits too? Like most other people (other than botanists, I guess) RDs still consider these vegetables, and we identify fruits more commonly as the sweeter specimens. So don't worry-- Eat up. These "veggie fruits" don't have the same sugar content as "fruit fruits."

Flowers- The next time your sweetheart brings home broccoli, artichokes or cauliflower, they aren't just bringing you produce... they're getting romantic with flowers! And while few girls dream of walking down the aisle with a big bouquet of vitamin C, you should make these veggies your partners for life. Cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, but also cabbage, rutabega and turnips) are thought to have a protective effect against cancer.

Speaking of cancer, please help me reach my goal of raising $1,000 for the American Cancer Society. I am walking in the university's Relay for Life this April. To donate,Click here to visit my personal page.

If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:

Thanks! And happy vegetable eating!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Recipe Week

Whew! Busy week... I am very glad to be home on the couch this Friday night. For some reason, this week was full of cooking. Tuesday's campus bake sale was a success, and since my pumpkin bread got such rave reviews, I figured I'd post the recipe. (I post for selfish reasons too-- I'd love to dispel the myth that I cannot bake. It's not me! It's my ancient oven!)

And speaking of recipes, I also promised two classmates the recipe for my newly created Tuna Bruchetta. I am especially proud of myself for this one. Anyone who knows me knows I have a tough time eating fish. Definitely not one of my fave foods. But I made a New Year's resolution and I'm stickin' to it. This dish totally got the cat excited, as she is a "tunatarian."

Cranberry Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose white flour
1/2 cup Splenda (or plain sugar if you're not keen on sweetners)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp nutmeg

1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 and spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a big bowl, combine flours, sugars, baking powder, spices and salt. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg, egg whites and vanilla until combined. Add pumkin; stir to combine. Add the pumkin mixture to your dry ingredients, and stir lightly until just blended. Fold in cranberries and chips. Spoon into loaf pan. Be sure batter is even across the top-- use a spatula if it needs smoothing. Bake for 50 minutes until top of loaf is firm to the touch. Cool and slice into 8 slices. Enjoy! Each slice is about 150 calories, and loaded with vitamin A.

Tuna Bruchetta
1/2 loaf italian bread, bruchetta sized
olive oil
2 tsps grated parmaesan reggiano cheese

1 pouch vacuum packed albacore tuna (or 1 can water packed tuna, drained)
1 cup italian style stewed tomatoes, drained well and diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp capers, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat broiler. Slice bread into 6 evenly sized slices and discard heel. Lay bread on broiler pan and drizzle or spray with olive oil, then sprinkle with cheese. Broil until bread is toasted and cheese is slightly brown and bubbly, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine tuna, tomatoes, lemon juice and capers. Mix well and break up with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Top toasts with tuna mixture and serve. Great with simple salad greens dressed with oil and vinegar.

As if two new recipes weren't enough on the new food scene, my husband's coworker sent him home with a persimmon Monday! I have never tasted one, and it's been ripening on the counter all week. Can't wait to taste this little orange wonder tomorow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In the Weeds

So, 4 weeks into the semester and I promise you all, I am keeping busy! This week I am especially pressed for time between 2 papers and a midterm exam. Nonetheless, I have carved out some time to give a blog update (read: I am procrastinating editing my paper...)

So, a few updates on class. I decided on a research topic, and it has nothing to do with desserts or cafeterias in the workplace. Instead, I was approached by a professor to work on a current "real" research project she began a few years ago. I will be measuring attitudes in the workplace towards breastfeeding. Odd? Perhaps. Not exactly something I have experience with? For sure. Totally awesome that I get to work on a really dynamic and engaging project with a super cool Professor? Yes! Oh, and I will eventually get to see my name in lights and be famous as a published researcher. Or at least see my name in the American Journal of Lactation. Admit it... you ALL subscribe and read this monthly.

Other class updates... thank you to my newly co-habitating friends who agreed to be interviewed now that they are cooking for two. When you moved in with your partner, did you struggle with portion control at mealtimes? Did you experience lack of willpower or get annoyed because he/she could eat more than you? Relax... my research is showing that's normal. And we'll be designing an educational program that addresses these concerns (and hopefully helps resolve them, too.)

Did you know irradiated food is safe? Did you know pesticides are water soluable, so be sure to rinse your fruits and veggies? Did you know you can cut the mold off hard cheeses and they'll be ok (Stay a while, cheddar...) but that once a soft cheese gets moldy, you should toss the whole chunk? (Farewell, dear brie...) All this and more I have learned in my Food Issues class.

Also, I've had the chance to get involved with the Dietetics Student Organization. We are forming a team for the university's Relay for Life, and I'll be walking this year in honor of so many. Please consider making a donation to my team in rememberence or in honor of your loved ones fighting cancer. (Make your check out to the American Cancer Society and mail it to me. Or, stay tuned for an email and donate online)

Finally, a nutrition question that came to me recently... What's the deal with Antioxidents? Should I drink those newfangled juices claiming to be loaded with them? In short, no. Antioxidents are important and play a role in your body's immunity. But a balanced diet full of many colored fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins is still your best bet-- not just for consumption of antioxidents, but for health overall. Juices can have lots of added sugars, so enjoy them in moderation. And skip the sodas and enhanced water beverages. Junk food is still junk food, even with added antioxidents. Best bets to get antioxidents in your diet? Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries or any other dark red or purple fruit (Think plums, pomogranites and cherries). Beans, artichokes and pecans also rank high on the list. Still looking for something to drink rather than eat? Try a cup of green tea.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Spring" 2009

I use the term Spring loosely, since it's freezing here in my neck of the woods. Whatever happened to Winter quarter? Now, we have Fall and Spring semesters... it's like if we don't mention winter, maybe it won't happen. I have this thought each and every day as I trek to class with the wind in my face and snow crunching under my boots. Ahhh, yes. It's "spring!"

The first week of class was great. It's taking a bit of adjustment to get used to not working. My days are taking on a new rhythm, and I have to admit, it's nice to get up at the same time as my husband again. Dinners are later, but we're managing.

I am in four classes this semester.
Monday, Research Thesis. This class is especially fun, since there are only 10 of us, and it's more of an independent study. We are required to do a full and complete research study in the space of one semester. I will be working with human subjects, and doing something closely aligned with my interests. I have a few ideas, but need to do more reading first. I'm thinking of hypothesizing different eating habits between workers who have cafeteria access vs. workers who do not. My theory is that packers eat best, while those who eat at a cafeteria eat decently, and those who purchase food from an outside restaurant fare worst of the three groups. Hmmm...

Tuesday, Issues in Nutrition. This class follows the newest trends in the food industry (like radiation of meat or genetically modified foods). We will also learn how the FDA and other gov't organizations are involved with our everyday food choices. Peanut butter, anyone? The coolest part of this class is that I must choose a current piece of food related legislation, decide if I am for or against it, then present my case to a legislator. Drop me a note if you know the governor's private cell number...

Wednesday, No class. I'll be spending my days studying and reading. Off campus.

Thursday, Nutrition Education. This class is really similar to the marketing class I took last semester, and I get to work in a group again. My partner and I already have an idea of the "nutrition intervention" we'd like to design. We plan to design a class for newlyweds who are now cooking for two, with a focus on correct portion size. We came up with this idea since both of us were totally confused as to how much a dude should be eating for dinner when we began co-habitation with the men in our lives. Couple that with the fact that most new brides gain 5-7 pounds in the first year of marriage, and yeah, I think a few couples might want to take our class! Possible catchy name... "Roses, Romance and Right Portions: Cooking for Two." Your ideas are welcome...

Friday, Food Lab. Watch out Alton Brown. Fridays are dedicated to learning all about the science of food. Why does water boil sooner at a higher altitude? Will a cake baked with rice flour taste the same as a cake baked with wheat flour? Each week we'll look at a new food category, play with it, taste it, and write up our findings. Oh, the best part? I get to wear a chef's jacket. And hat! This will be tons of fun to use at home once class is over. I plan to serve dinner parties wearing it and talking nonsensically in a Swedish accent.

I have also joined the student Dietetic Organization. We'll be putting a team in for the campus Relay for Life! So, the crusade against cancer continues, just in a different way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Follow Along

Dear friends, family and loyal readers:

I've added a new feature to my blog. In the upper right side, you may now elect to sign up as a follower. I'm not completely sure how this feature works if you do not subscribe to Blogger, but try and sign up if you'd like to subscribe to my posts. You should receive email notification whenever I post something new.

I've received complaints from readers wishing to be alerted whenever new content is posted to my page. Hopefully, this will solve the problem. Thanks for subscribing!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers

Most people who know me well know I grew up in a small town, and as a result, remain close with nearly all my childhood friends. Two of those friends right now are going through some difficult times. By sheer coincidence, both are having serious health issues. One friend has been diagnosed with brain cancer after many years of remission. Another friend currently awaits her second liver transplant in the ICU unit.

My thoughts and prayers are with both of them right now, and their incredible, wonderful families. I'm not sure they really, truly know what fond memories I have of growing up with them... how often I think back and laugh at the times spent together, or the funny things they said or did that still make me chuckle.

Faith isn't something you can touch or feel. It's not something you can describe to another person who lacks it. Faith is at it's best when we are at our worst. I have faith that these two amazing young women are going to be okay.

Nobody does it like a Youngstown girl. xoxo, m