Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eat Breakfast - There's No Excuse Not To

You’ve heard it countless times, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” The problem is, who feels like preparing breakfast every morning when we’re already running around trying to get the family ready and out the door on time? One of the solutions to this dilemma is to prepare breakfast items that can be made ahead. Some of these items have really quick heating times and others don’t even require heating. There are even grab-n-go options for days you have to eat during the commute. From kid favorites to figure friendly options, make-ahead breakfasts are the cure to your no-time-for-breakfast blues.

Breakfast burritos are the ultimate to-go breakfast and they can be customized in countless ways by changing up the meats, cheeses, and veggies – not to mention the new flavored tortillas and wraps. Breakfast bars are great items to keep in your bag for when hunger strikes between meals, and a smoothie can be a nutritious and refreshing start to the day any time of year.

Breakfast Burritos

Makes 24

12 eggs, beaten

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked

1/2 cup your favorite salsa

2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or other)

24 burrito size flour tortillas

Optional add-ins:




Green peppers

Cooked hash browns

Scramble eggs in large skillet until cooked. Stir in salsa and cooked sausage. Also stir in any optional ingredients you’d like.

Warm tortillas in microwave for 10 second or until warm and soft.

Scoop 1/2 cup of the egg mixture onto the tortilla and roll up, burrito-style.

Wrap each burrito in foil or plastic wrap. Place wrapped burritos into gallon sized zip-topped freezer bags and freeze.

To heat and eat:

Unwrap burrito.

To microwave: wrap burrito in paper towel and microwave approximately 2 minutes or until heated through.

To oven heat: wrap burrito in foil and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until heated through.

Oat & Apricot Breakfast Bars

Makes 8 large bars

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup uncooked oats (quick or old fashioned)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

16 dried apricot halves, diced

2 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup Eggbeaters (or 2 large eggs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, oats, apricots, and sunflower seeds, mixing well.

Whisk together egg substitute and butter.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix quickly, until just combined.

Spoon into prepared pan and smooth across the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until firm.

Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into 8 rectangles.

Veggie Cups

Makes 18 muffins/cups

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1 small onion, diced

1/2 cup diced ham

1/4 cup diced mushrooms

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 large eggs, beaten

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.

Sautee bell peppers, onions, ham, mushrooms, and tomatoes together.

Divide this mixture between 18 muffin cups and spoon into each.

Combine the beaten eggs with the shredded cheese.

Pour egg and cheese mixture into the muffin tins, almost to tops.

Bake 20-30 minutes, until cooked through.

When completely cooled, wrap in foil or plastic wrap, and then in zip-top bags to freeze.

May be eaten hot or cold

Frozen Purple Smoothies

Serves 4

3 cups frozen raspberries (or peaches, or mixed berries)

1 cup grape juice (purple is sweeter, may use white for less sweet)

1 cup milk (or 8oz container of yogurt)

Optional – 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Pour all ingredients into blender and mix well. OR Place all ingredients in a bowl and use an immersion blender to blend.

Spoon or pour into individual containers to either enjoy now or freeze for later. Styrofoam or heavy paper drink cups with lids work well for this.

If frozen, remove from freezer when you get up in the morning and smoothie will be ready to eat/drink when you leave for work/school.

Can also move from freezer to refrigerator the night before consumption to thaw.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Get It Ground!

Many of my clients depend on me to create healthy meals that will help them lose or maintain weight. To do this, I choose very lean cuts of meat. For my weight loss clients, I try to use 95%-96% lean ground beef in recipes calling for ground beef. My local grocer usually stocks 80%, 90%, and sometimes 93% lean. The leaner the ground beef, the higher the price. In this week's sale ads, ground beef prices ran from $3/pound for 80% to $5.79/lb for 93%. In fact, you can sometimes find a brand name of very lean (96%) ground beef in the meat case for nearly $7 per pound.

In these same sale ads, ultra lean boneless roasts (top & bottom round, shoulder) at approximately 95% lean, were on sale for $1.88/pound. Why not grind these? I asked the meat manager if he would please grind these lean roasts for me and he happily obliged. I ended up paying $22.50 for 12 pounds of 95% lean ground beef, rather than $69.50 for 12 pounds of 93% lean ground beef that was in the case - more than 3 times more expensive!
This also works for other types of proteins (chicken, turkey, pork). Unfortunately, most meat counters will not grind anything but beef, due to the possibility of cross-contamination. For these cases, I have purchased a meat grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer.

With this freshly ground beef, I have Salisbury Steak w/Rich Brown Gravy and Muscle-Packing Meatloaf on the menu for this week. Both recipes are from my latest favorite cookbook, The Most Decadent Diet Ever! by Devin Alexander.

Salisbury Steak With Rich Brown Gravy
4 servings

1/3 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons onion soup mix
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound 96% lean ground beef
3 tablespoons, unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup fat free, lower sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
olive oil spray
1 onion, sliced and separated into rings (about 3-1/2 cups)

Combine the egg substitute and oats in a medium mixing bowl. Let stand for 3 minutes to soften the oats. Add the onion soup mix, minced onion, garlic powder, pepper, and beef. Mix until well combined, and then shape into 4 oval patties about 1 inch thick, 3 inches wide, and 4-1/2 inches long.

Put 2 tablespoons of the flour in a medium shallow bowl. Dip the patties in the flour to coat them on all sides. Shake off any excess.

Put the remaining flour in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in enough broth to form a paste. Then slowly whisk in the remaining broth, then the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce until well combined. Set aside.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. When the skilet is hot, lightly mist it with olive oil spray. Put the patties in the skillet, side by side. Brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Pour the broth mixture into the skillet. Add the onion rings to the skillet and use a wooden spoon to stir them gently into the broth mixture, being careful not to break the patties. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, flipping the patties once, halfway through.

Transfer the patties to a platter. Spoon the onions and gravy over the patties. Serve immediately.

Each serving (1 pattie with 1/4 of the gravy and onions) has: 205 calories, 26 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 573 mg sodium

Muscle-Packing Meatloaf
4 servings


olive oil spray
2/3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/3 cup minced whole green onion
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1-2 tablespoons seeded, minced red jalapeno pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons seeded minced green jalapeno pepper, to taste
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound 96 percent lean ground beef
1/3 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Spray a standard (8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch) non-stick loaf pan with spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk and the oats. Let them sit for 3 minutes or until the oats are softened. Add the egg whites followed by the Worcestershire, carrots, green onion, parsley, red and green jalapenos, garlic and salt. Mix them well.

Add the beef and mix them until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread it so that the top is flat. Spread the ketchup evenly over the top. Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes or until it is no longer pink inside. Remove it from the oven and let it sit 10 minutes. Slice it into 8 slices and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Each 2-slice serving has: 239 calories, 27 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 61 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 694 mg sodium

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Love Those Buns!

Whenever I make a pot roast or pork roast, it is a two-day meal. The first day being the roast with side dishes, then I shred the leftover roast to make pulled pork or bbq beef for the next day's dinner on buns with chips or some other casual accompaniment. Actually, I look forward to day two more than roast day.

A few months back, the pulled pork dinner day was upon us and I had forgotten to purchase buns. ugh! The thought of driving down the hill to the grocery store (24 miles round trip in a vehicle that gets 16 mpg with gas over $4/gallon) really didn't appeal to me - but I dislike eating this type of food on slices of bread. I also knew that the bread recipe that I use for whole wheat sandwich bread would be the wrong texture for buns.

I started perusing recipes and found this one for Whole Wheat Buns. The texture is fantastic, they smell wonderful while baking, and now my family is spoiled and only want homemade buns from now on. Since they freeze spectacularly well, I don't see where this will be a problem.

Also - I make the dough in my bread machine so I can work on other things at the same time. The recipe comes from Bread Machine Magic.

Whole Wheat Buns - Hamburger or Hot Dog

Makes 12 hotdog buns or 8 hamburger buns

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons yeast
Place all ingredients in bread pan, select Dough setting, and press Start.

When dough has risen enough, the machine will beep. Remove bread pan, and turn out dough onto a floured counter top. Gently roll and shape the dough into a 12-inch rope.

With a sharp knife, divide dough into 8 pieces for hamburger buns or 12 pieces for hot dog buns.

Grease a baking sheet (I use parchment, rather than greasing). Roll pieces of dough into balls and flatten for hamburger buns or shape into 6-inch rolls for hot dog buns. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm oven 10 to 15 minutes until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 400°F Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown (be careful mine cook pretty fast). Remove from oven and cool on racks. When ready to use, split buns horizontally.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Banana Split Cake

One of my favorite summertime treats is Banana Split Cake. I have fond memories of my mom making this cake for me growing up, for my birthday, and even as a special surprise when I visit.

This is the perfect thing to bring to potlucks and gatherings. The recipe is super easy, using very few ingredients, but everyone who tastes this will be asking you for the recipe! This is a no-bake dessert and the original recipe calls for 2 eggs, but you can use egg substitute if that freaks you out.

Banana Split Cake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 can crushed pineapple, drained

3-4 bananas, sliced

large container of Cool Whip

marachino cherries and walnuts or pecans for garnish, if desired

Mix together the melted 1/2 cup butter with the graham cracker crumbs. Gently pat mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan - do not pack tightly.

Beat together the 1/2 cup softened butter with the confectioners sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Spread this mixture evenly over the cracker crumb crust.

Next, layer banana slices. On top of banana layer, spread the drained crushed pineapple.

Spread Cool Whip over the top of all and garnish with marachino cherries and nuts, if desired.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Can I Afford a Personal Chef?

Many people ask themselves (and me) this question. The majority of the time, the answer is YES! I then ask a series of questions that make it clear whether or not a personal chef service is affordable. A few of these questions are:

Could you use some extra hours in your week? Having a personal chef gives you 10-15 hours per week to do other things.

Would you like to eat more healthy meals and less additives and preservatives?

Do you purchase healthy ingredients at the grocery store with good intentions, but end up throwing it away because it went bad before you could cook it?

Do you eat out more than twice a week?

If you answered "YES" to more than one of these questions, you can afford a personal chef and will actually save money by having one.**

**Most people don't realize the amount of money they spend on going out to eat, fast food, take-out, or the cost of the groceries they waste because it goes bad and gets thrown out before they can cook it - Not to mention the gas used driving around town to pick up these things. Another thing people tend to not be aware of is the amount of calories, sodium, fat, artificials, and preservatives they are feeding their families.