Email me!

Send comments, pictures, recipes, links and ideas!

Subscribe Now

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Search This Blog

Monday, May 31, 2010

10 Bikini body food substitutions

Happy Memorial Day!

With today marking the unofficial start to summer,  I thought what better than some swimsuit (I know, bikini-gag) inspired tips!?


10 Bikini body food substitutions

Those homemade blueberry scones you love for breakfast? You can have them – simply swap in nutrient-dense ingredients. The burger you can’t live without on the weekend cookouts? Make it lean and trim it down in size. Can’t resist a good plate of pasta? Chef Irby recommends ditching the store-bought marinara (often high in sugar) and making your own fresh tomato sauce. Satisfying flavor is on the menu this summer, ladies, and these simple substitutions can be used all year round.

1. Substitute wheat flour for white flour

Substituting wheat flour for half of the white flour will make your scones, muffins or pancakes more bikini-friendly, but Chef Irby suggests going a step further by adding fresh wild raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, which will liven up the flavor, wake up the color, and give a fresh, flavorful twist to an otherwise boring breakfast.

2. Swap out full-fat cream for non-fat dairy

Can't resist clam chowder? Swap out the cream and make it a diet-friendly treat. Cream sauces and creamy soups get most of their creaminess from fat- and calorie-laden heavy whipping cream. Replace cream with a combination of half nonfat milk and half nonfat sour cream. Chef Irby says you will get the same coveted creamy texture without the unwanted creamy.

3. Lighten up your egg dishes

You don't need to swear off whole eggs completely; eggs are used as a binder in many dishes and using only egg whites can get pricey. Chef Irby suggests using two egg whites for every one egg for a leaner, lighter breakfast, and when baking or making dishes such as burgers, replace half of the whole eggs with egg whites to keep the texture but save on calories, fat, and cholesterol. "As a side note, the majority of protein in eggs comes from the egg whites, not the yolk, making them a deliciously healthy option all around" the Bikini Chef adds.

4. Cut back on the high-fat beef

If you crave a hamburger, make your own lighter, leaner version by combining lean ground beef and lean ground turkey. You'll find you sacrifice nothing on flavor or texture but save yourself plenty on fat and calories. To further help you reach your beach body goals, trim down the size of these leaner burgers by making sliders (mini-burgers) for lunch and dinner, as well as for tasty bites at summer pool parties.

5. Replace mayo with yogurt

Chef Irby suggests using nonfat vanilla yogurt as a delicious substitution for mayonnaise. Use as a healthy substitution in chicken salad, tuna salad, and dipping sauces such as aioli. It is very flavorful and naturally creamy so you don't need to use a lot of it.

6. Cut the cheese

If you can't go without cheese, Chef Irby recommends lower fat versions such as reduced fat cream cheese, reduced fat Monterey jack, and reduced fat feta. However, if you prefer full fat versions, opt for freshly grated parmesan or parmiggiano reggiano, which are supercharged with flavor, and cut back on the amount you use. 

7. Substitute citrus for salt

Instead of salt, add citrus to both sweet and savory dishes. Chef Irby says, "The rind, or zest, of lemons, oranges, and limes is edible and adds a refreshing flavor to steamed or grilled vegetables, sauces, meat dishes, practically everything."

8. Pass on the bacon

Got to have crumbled bacon in your summer salads? It certainly adds flavor -- along with fat, salt and calories. Chef Irby suggests sidelining the bacon, but if you just have to have it, opt for leaner turkey bacon instead of pork bacon. 

9. Make your own pasta sauce

That seemingly harmless jar of marinara or dipping sauce may be a sugar-bomb in disguise. "Instead, use freshly diced tomatoes with a little freshly chopped basil leaves or cilantro leaves," suggests the Bikini Chef. "Add a hint of lemon zest, drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (about a half-tablespoon each) and finish with a small pinch of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper."

10. Kick the bag of chips habit with homemade chips

Chef Irby relies on baked wonton wrappers to replace high fat, high calorie tortilla chips. Her recipe for wonton chips: Buy the squares and cut into triangles. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake in the oven at 225 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp and golden. Top with salsa, serve with chicken salad or other dips as you would crostini and chips. She adds, "As a bonus, they are inexpensive and unused wonton wrappers keep in the freezer for up to three months."

Think simple and tasty

These simple food substitutions will help you seamlessly cut calories and reach your beach body goals without decreasing your everyday food satisfaction. Chef Irby concludes, “In fact, most people love the lower calorie, lower fat substitutions once they've tried them and have gotten past their fear of trying what they perceive will be tasteless food." Best yet, they are easy, affordable, flavorful, and will help you stay in bikini shape all year long.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nutritionist Appointment

So about two months ago, I met with a nutritionist for the first time. Insurance covers it 100%, so I thought, why not?

During our first visit, we went through a workbook that included starches, starchy veggies, meats (lean, fatty, "okay" meats), dairy, fruits, veggies.  She had examples of the foods in their actual portion sizes (play food).  This was not entirely new to me, as I have learned about portion size before, but it was good to have such a concrete guide.  We talked about what I was currently doing food & exercise-wise, and goals for the future.  She asked me to keep a food journal, which I did for three we

I returned Thursday evening and the first thing I did was hop on the scale. Oh sweet relief, I'm down 8.5 pounds! She was thrilled and I was proud (even though I check several times a week, so I knew I'd been fluctuating between 8-10 lbs).

 Me last week with a new baby cousin.

We sat down together and talked about all the changes I had made (portion-size, brown rice, using a wok, snacking on plain air-popped popcorn, cutting out fast food, cutting out fatty breakfast meats, making better choices when dining out, and dining out less).

She seemed really happy with everything and we both agreed that I was still lacking in one area~ exercise.  I am not an exerciser. I love yoga, love dancing, and want to be a runner, but I do none of these consistently.  She encouraged me to slowly work it in to my schedule and we set a goal and getting out and moving (or staying and moving) on my days off, Monday and Friday.  That's doable.  She said not to aim for 5 days a week or 20 minutes per day. She said to just aim to get moving and hopefully it will be fun and act as stress relief, instead of being stressful! 

On Friday, I woke up and was exhausted. Last thing I felt like doing was "getting moving", but as soon as I heard Baby A over the monitor, I got her up, put on some sweats, handed her a sippy of milk and took her out in her stroller. I walked for about 15 minutes and ran for almost five. I got home and was a sweaty mess, which makes me feel like I did well.

What are your tricks for getting exercise in?  I truly do want it to be apart of my life, something I "miss" when I don't do....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Benefits of Greek Yogurt

Benefits of Greek Yogurt
One of our readers emailed me to ask if I had any information about Greek yogurt. I told her, "Other than eating it, and knowing it's good for you, no!"  I decided to read up on it, and I thought this was the best article to explain the health benefits of Greek yogurt.  We all love the taste and love the fact that there are no artificial sweeteners in it.

If you are tired of regular yogurt or looking for something thicker and creamer, try Greek yogurt. This yogurt has many benefits along with a taste that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. It can be used the same way as regular yogurt is, including as a snack, in recipes, desserts and smoothies. It comes in the same flavors or plain. There are benefits to eating Greek yogurt, and comparing it to regular yogurt can help you choose which one is best for your dietary needs.


Greek yogurt can have twice as much protein as regular yogurt. The extra protein will help you feel full and leave you feeling satisfied. Commercial Greek yogurts at supermarkets have almost double the protein content of standard yogurt brands. One cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt usually contains 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.


Salt is a big red flag, and many consumers are looking for lower in salt items. According to the USDA, Greek yogurt has less sodium by up to 50 percent. Plus, it still has a full-bodied taste without the high sodium content.

Low in Carbohydrates

If you are watching your carbohydrate intake or have a sensitivity to carbohydrates like diabetes, then Greek yogurt is your ticket. Regular yogurts have 15 to 17 grams of carbohydrates per cup, where Greek yogurt averages around 9 grams.

Easy to Digest

Because Greek yogurt contains less carbohydrates than regular yogurt, it has less lactose, the sugar in dairy products that can sometimes upset people's stomachs. This is especially helpful for people who have lactose intolerance.


Greek yogurt can be used for many dishes including savory and sweet. Due to its thick texture and rich taste, many people use it as a substitute for milk, sour cream and even use it for baking.


Greek yogurt has a smooth, rich and thick consistency. Part of what makes Greek yogurt different than regular yogurt is that it is strained to remove the whey. When whey is removed, so is water, which creates a thicker, more substantial yogurt product. This is why Greek yogurt is so popular because of the satisfaction after eating something creamy and smooth.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Make it Healthier: Chinese Take Out

I don't know where I've been, but did you know you can request steamed brown rice when ordering Chinese take-out?  No more pork fried rice for me, and I'm totally fine with it.

Do you have any tips for ordering take out? Leave a comment and share!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Make Your Own: Feta, Tomato, and Spinach Sandwiches

I used to have a real weird obsession with breakfast sandwiches. I just LOVED them. Like, loved them, and ate them whenever I could, usually with sausage, which I knew was fatty and bad for me, but I didn't realize how bad until I met with the nutritionist who placed breakfast meat on the never-ever-eat-meat-list. Eep!

So....I've had to cut them out, and I am happy to report I have not had breakfast meat since!

And since I've been seeing my weight drop, I can't say I really miss it. On my day off last week, I found myself wanting a breakfast sandwich so I decided to create something yummy and wholesome instead of indulging and going out for $5 of fat and grease!

1 whole grain english muffin
Handful of spinach leaves
1 Roma tomato, halved and gutted
Feta cheese

1) Toast the english muffin
2) Sprinkle feta cheese on each muffin.
3) Top with spinach and then 1/2 a tomato on each side.
4) Enjoy as an open-faced sandwich.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let her at it!

As many of you know, I own a photography business, but during the week I am also a special educator, working with children in Early Intervention (3-5 year olds).  Due to my "day job" revolving around skill development, I am constantly trying to incorporate skill-building into Baby A's natural environment.  We started giving her a spoon with each meal a few months ago and slowly but surely, she learned how to use it! More recently, we began giving her a fork, and by golly, she's starting to "get" that, too!

Our most recent skill came from the "dippy egg" craze~ teaching her how to dip. It not only develops hand-eye coordination, but it also encourages strengthening of that pincer grasp that we educators are oh-so-concerned about in older children (not to mention--it's FUN!).

Though it can get very messy, Baby A loves trying to dip!  I gave her the last of the hummus (there was not much left, don't get too worked up!), some celery, and let her have a go....check it out, she had a blast!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make Your Own: Dippy Eggs!

We recently started making dippy eggs in the morning for breakfast and Baby A LOVES them! They are a great source of protein & vitamin D, and when using bread for dipping that is comprised of hearty whole grains, you get a good dose of fiber, too! 

Baby A still needs to be supervised closely or else the egg will go flying to the floor (knock on wood, this has not happened), but she loves dipping her bread, blowing on it (to make sure it's not hot) and then eating it!

I had never made a soft-boiled egg before last week but I have yet to screw one up!

1. Boil water in a pot.
2. Use a spoon to place an egg in the water.
3. Boil for seven minutes.
4. Remove egg with a spoon and run cold water over it.
5. With a butter knife, tap around the top of the egg to crack the shell, then remove it.
6. Remove the top of the egg (I slice it for Baby A to stab with her fork).
7. Serve with whole grain bread.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Got a Teething Baby?

Baby A is getting some new teeth in and has been looking for relief in everything and anything~ toys, dog toys, my arm, whatever! We give her these teethers which are really awesome, but I've also found that celery works well! She loves to try to bite it (and does get tiny pieces off) and she especially loves it if it has a little hummus on it. YUM!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Make Your Own: Grilled Bananas

Baby A is OBSESSED with "nanas" so we will definitely have to try these!  Let me know if you do!

 Serves 4

This crowd-pleasing dessert is easy to assemble both ahead of time or just before cooking. Let kids make their own by choosing toppings that suit their tastes. Substitute you favorite fruit for the strawberries or use honey instead of chocolate chips, if you like.


4 bananas
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate or carob chips
1/2 cup chopped strawberries or peaches
1/3 cup granola or graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


Preheat grill to medium heat. Hold each banana in your hand, curved side up, and carefully halve it lengthwise through the top of the peel without cutting through the bottom side. Arrange each banana on a piece of foil.

Using your fingers, gently pry open each banana, making a space down the center for the toppings. Arrange chocolate chips, strawberries and granola down the center of each banana then top with marshmallows and walnuts.

Fold foil around each banana, leaving the top open, to form a bowl that will protect it from direct heat. Arrange bananas on grill and cook until banana is tender and marshmallows and chocolate are melted and hot, about 10 minutes. Set aside to let cool slightly before serving.


Per serving (1 banana/about 6oz/174g-wt.): 260 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium, 47g total carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 30g sugar), 4g protein

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Where'd Ya Get Those!?!?!

Check out the aprons in our header! Baby A, me, and Ava's doll have one!!! We all coordinate without being matchy-matchy! 

My good friend KC of The Diaper Bag Wrangler whipped them up for us~ pretty cool, huh?

KC makes aprons, diaper changing accessories, and nursing accessories, all in trendy, pretty fabrics so you can care for your baby while still being in style----which believe me, I get. When I got pregnant, I called her right away because no way was I going to settle for the tacky cartoon character things I was seeing in the stores.

I'm also a fan of KC's headbands, so you should really just take a gander over there!

KC is a 1 year breast cancer survivor and she recently added some chemo caps to her boutique.

She's from PA so local mamas will be supporting a local mom-owned business, which is awesome in itself!

Thank you so much, KC!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Woo hoo!

If you are reading in google reader, you may want to click over to the website~thanks to Nicole of Voila Customs, we have a whole new look! Nicole made us a header, background and logo, SO CUTE!!!!

I use Nicole for all of my graphic design needs for my photography business and she just "gets" me. It's always so easy and so fun to work with her!

She makes a mean logo, but she also creates beautiful custom stationary whether it's a birth announcement or wedding invitation, her creativity and attention to detail are perfection.  We used her for Baby A's birth announcements and people are STILL talking about them!

Thanks, Nicole!

Let's Get Together, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Where do you eat dinner? In the kitchen? In the living room? In your bedroom?
Though I didn't know too much about being a new mom and starting a family, one thing I always knew for sure was that I wanted us to sit together for meals.  Oddly enough, a running theory in my graduate education classes was that children had less social skills, more behavior problems, and less understanding of rules and boundaries, not to mention less healthy eating habits all from the death of the family table. Blech!

We have had Baby A at the table with us for meals consistently (unless she's asleep of course) since she was about four months old. She loves it. She eats, drinks, plays with utensils, and "talks" with us!

Every once and awhile we eat in the living room, maybe if we got take out, are eating late, or are watching a game, but for us it's much easier to eat at the table in our high pub chairs because we have two vulture-esque dachshunds who are experts at sneaking up and stealing morsels of food!

I found this old article in my email box from

The Benefits of Eating Together

The Family Who Eats Together Stays Together
-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

"Come and get it!" It may be dinnertime, but when was the last time your family sat down and enjoyed dinner together? With music lessons, ball practice, play rehearsal, and work schedules, it can be tough. Rounding up the troop for an evening meal can be almost impossible! However, research is beginning to show that eating as a family has great benefits for your children and teenagers. Here are 8 more reasons why you should try to sit down together 5-6 times a week, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Reason #1: Communication and Well-Being
Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news of the day, as well as give extra attention to your children and teens. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all.

Reason #2: Model Manners (and more)
Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. Keep the mood light, relaxed, and loving. Try not to instruct or criticize—lead by example.

Reason # 3: Expand Their World…One Food at a Time
Encourage your children to try new foods, without forcing, coercing, or bribing. Introduce a new food along with some of the stand-by favorites. Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience, and skill.

  • Include foods from other cultures and countries.
  • Select a new vegetable from a local farmer’s market.
  • Have your child select a new recipe from a cookbook, web site, newspaper, magazine or check out the recipes on BabyFit.
Reason #4: Nourish
Meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. Home cooked meals are usually not fried or highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.

Reason #5: Become Self-Sufficient
Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking, and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. Preschoolers can tear lettuce, cut bananas, and set the table. Older children can pour milk, peel vegetables, and mix batter. Teenagers can dice, chop, bake, and grill. Working as a team puts the meal on the table faster, as well as makes everyone more responsible and accepting of the outcome. Improved eating habits come with "ownership" of a meal.

Reason #6: Prevent Destructive Behaviors
Research shows that frequent family dinners (five or more a week), are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teenagers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week. Even as older children’s schedules get more complicated, it is important to make an effort to eat meals together. Scheduling is a must.

Reason #7: Improve Grades
Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teenagers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teenagers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.

Reason # 8: Save Money
Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week.

It is time to bring the "family" back to the dinner table. Sharing dinner together gives everyone a sense of identity. It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime.

Wow, couldn't have said it better myself!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't Forget! Healthy Kids Day is this weekend!

What: 2nd Annual Healthy Kids Day
When: Saturday, May 22, 2010 from 12-4 p.m.
Where: Mann Music Center 5201 Parkside Ave., Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA
Cost: FREE
More details here.
Pre-register (required) for your tickets here.

Will you be going?

Thank you, Mamacheaps for the wonderful info!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Dirty Dozen

Thanks to our reader, Siobhan for passing along this great article from Eating Well!

2010 Dirty Dozen

Every year we have gone to pick local fruits and veggies until I read about the Dirty Dozen. We had to then search for organic farms, specially since our favorite fruits to pick made the top 5! Here is the EWG's updated Dirty Dozen guide to help you make the right choices in purchasing- or picking- fruits and vegetables this season!

1. Celery
Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the 64 chemicals that are used on crops.
Alternatives: organic celery, broccoli, radishes, and onions.

2. Peaches
  62 pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards.
Alternatives: organic peaches, watermelon, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit.
3. Strawberries
If you buy strawberries, especially out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that have less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. 59 pesticides have been detected in residue on strawberries.
Alternatives: organic strawberries, kiwi, and pineapples.
4. Apples
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Tests have found 42 different pesticides as residue on apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely, so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients.
Alternatives: organic apples, bananas, and tangerines.
5. Blueberries
New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.
6. Nectarines
With 33 different types of pesticides found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit.
Alternatives: organic nectarines, watermelon, papaya, and mango.
7. Bell peppers
Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. Tests have found 49 different pesticides on sweet bell peppers.
Alternatives: organic bell peppers, green peas, broccoli, and cabbage.
8. Spinach
New on the list in 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 different pesticides, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.
9. Kale
Kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year.
Alternatives: organic kale, cabbage, asparagus, and broccoli.
10. Cherries
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. In fact, in one survey in recent years, cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. Government testing has found 42 different pesticides on cherries.
11. Potatoes
America's popular spud reappears on the 2010 Dirty Dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 different pesticides.
Alternatives: organic potatoes and sweet potatoes, eggplant, cabbage, and earthy mushrooms.
12. Grapes
Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 different pesticides.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Healthy Eating Principles

Thanks to Whole Foods for breaking healthy eating down into simple, easy-to-understand tips!



Plant based

  • Simply put, eat mostly plants
  • No matter what type of diet you follow — including those that incorporate dairy, meat and/or seafood — eat more plants, like raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains
  • Eat a colorful variety of plants to ensure you're getting the best nutrients for your body, which leads to feeling satiated

Real food

  • Choose foods that are whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal and unprocessed
  • Eliminate the consumption of refined, highly processed foods and foods void of nutrients, such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats

Low fat

  • Get your healthy fats from plant sources, such as nuts and avocados
  • Minimize extracted oils and processed fats
  • If eating a diet that includes animal products, choose leaner meats and seafood as well as low-fat dairy products

Nutrient dense

  • Choose foods that are rich in nutrients when compared to their total caloric content; also known as foods with a high nutrient density
  • Build your menus around plant-based foods to ensure highly nutrient-dense meals
  • Choose foods with a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • Look for the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) links to another site scoring system to guide you on healthier choices


    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Make Your Own : Healthier French Toast

    Serves: 4
    Preparation Time: 10 min
    Cooking Time: 10 min
    1. Beat the banana, egg, egg white, milk and vanilla together in a small bowl.
    2. Warm the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
    3. Dip each piece of bread into the batter, turning them to coat both sides. Fry until brown on both sides. Serve with yogurt and fresh fruit, fruit syrup, etc.

    Thanks to my friend Amy who posted this on facebook!

    Sunday, May 16, 2010


    I read this on Net Wellness and thought it was good info worth sharing!


    I have been told that basmati rice is a healthy choice of rice. Is there any significant difference in choosing brown over white, with rgards to the health benefits?


    Basmati rice is a healthy rice choice. You can choose either brown or white Basmati rice and in all versions I've listed below. In general, brown rice varieties have a higher fiber content. Brown varieties have all the nutrients of the original rice. White rice varieties have less fiber and may or may not have the nutrients of the original rice depending on whether it is enriched or parboiled or not. Here are some facts about rice: There are two primary types - dry and sticky. The Indian type is dry, flaky and easily separated when cooked. The Japanese rice is shorter grained, moist, sticky and firm when cooked. It has a higher amylopectin -a type of starch- content so produces a waxy starch. The drier rice has a higher amylose - another type of starch- content. When rice is harvested it is milled. Milled rice comes in the following forms that we humans eat:
    • Brown rice - first hull removed
    • Unpolished rice - Bran and germ also removed
    • Polished rice - aleurone layer (high fat) also removed
    • Enriched rice - polished rice fortified with vitamins and minerals that had been removed during processing. These vitamins and minerals are usually sprayed on so don't wash enriched rice.
    • Converted/Parboiled rice - rice is cooked before milling, then is milled. This forces nutrients into the endosperm (the starchy portion of the rice kernel), gelatinizes the aleurone layer so that it isn't removed in polishing the rice, and the vitamins and minerals aren't lost.
    • Instant rice - Rice (usually brown, enriched or parboiled versions) is partially cooked, so cracks are created in the individual grains, which speeds future water absorption; then the rice is dried.
    The glycemic index of rice can vary depending on the type of starch it contains and the amount of fiber. A study of the glycemic index of rice appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1992 (Vol 56, 1034-1036). High amylose content rices had lower GI values. If your definition of a healthy rice is one with a lower GI value, then Basmati rice is healthier than some other types, and brown Basmati rice will be healthier than white Basmati rice.


    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    10 Simple Things You Can Do.. Change Our Food System:

    1. Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages.
    You can lose 25 lbs in a year by replacing one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water).
    2. Eat at home instead of eating out.  Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.
    3. Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks. Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.
    4. Meatless Mondays—Go without meat one day a week.
    An estimated 70% of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals.
    5. Protect family farms; visit your local farmer's market. Farmer's markets allow farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.
    Want to read the rest? Click here

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Make Your Own: Healthier Spaghetti Sauce

    As you know, I recently purchased a food processor.

    I decided to play with it the other night while cooking up some whole wheat raviolis (from Trader Joes or Whole Foods, I forget, but they were really good!).   I really want to make my own healthy spaghetti sauce but have not found a recipe that I can commit to in the meantime, I took 1 jar of spaghetti sauce and processed:

    2 fresh plum tomatoes
    1 small yellow onion (peeled)
    1/2 cup celery (cooked it a bit to soften)
    1 cup of carrots (cooked a bit to soften)

    The sauce was sweet and really good. It was a little bumpy which we all liked (not chunky but definitely not totally smooth).  The hubs and Baby A approved, they each had seconds. I jarred 2 8oz portions, and froze another portion.

    The only problem~I think I had too much in their because a little leaked into the bottom of the bowl. Whoops.

    Do you have an awesome (preferably clean) healthy spaghetti sauce recipe? Email it to me!

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Women's Health Pocket Guide and Podcasts

    Whole Foods is offering a really cool resource aimed at women~ available on-line or in-stores.

    These pocket-sized guides are free and cover everything from weight management, to aging, to your libido.  They also have podcasts available on their website.  Pretty cool, Whole Foods!

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    A Restaurant Review from Baby's View: Cafe Estelle

    A  Restaurant Review from Baby's View

    Where: Cafe Estelle 444 North 4th Street, Philadelphia PA

    Who:  2 adults, 1 one year old

    For Mother's Day, I wanted to go out to brunch with my husband and daughter. I didn't want something fancy, and I certainly did not want to go to a chain restaurant.  I asked friends for suggestions via facebook and was rapidly overwhelmed by all of the suggestions. I ran a search on and the first suggestion was Cafe Estelle.

    I enjoyed the reviews I read and loved:
    • Most everything is local, organic, fair-trade, and free-range
    • They have a coffee bar boasting organic, fair-trade coffee, AND to-go cups for when you are leaving!
    • The prices were good~ $13 and under for most breakfasts

    The cafe is sweet and sunny and is nestled in a loft apartment building in Northern Liberties.  We had no trouble locating it and enjoyed free parking in their lot.  We were told there was a 20-minute wait, but we actually ended up waiting about five before we were seated.  The waitstaff was friendly, warm, efficient, and all looked like they just stepped out of anthropologie~ very cute.

    We never ask for a children's menu, so I am not sure if they offer one, but instead asked if we could modify the adult menu for Baby A and they were happy to oblige.  For A, we ordered one pancake and one egg, and they came with a small serving of fruit.  J ordered a peanut butter banana smoothie which we ALL enjoyed!  For breakfast, he had steak and eggs which arrived perfectly cooked with fruit and homefries on the side.  He doused them in their thick firey red hot sauce, which left him grabbing for his water a few times!  My food was also amazing. I ordered an omelet, which is standard for me, but was really excited to try something new~ a scallop, avocado, scallion omelet. What!? YUM! Sooooo good! Mine also came with potatoes and fruit.  On the menu, our meals were supposed to come with toast, but when I requested wheat, I was told that they only had fresh baguette that day. Random, but wayyyyy too much to eat- the bread was thick and tough, but A and J enjoyed it.  J and I each had coffee~ with breakfast we enjoyed the Havana blend which was flavorful and not too bold.  In our to-go cups, I again had Havana and J tried something else, but I did not catch what blend he picked.

    Baby A fit right in, there were tons of families with babies and kids, and she had a grand old time waving to EVERYONE:) 

    I read online that the wait times can get a bit high, but for a holiday, I was very impressed. We couldn't have been happier with our experience and look forward to visiting again!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Saffron of Ambler...delish!

    I hope everybody out there had a wonderful Mother's Day!!

    Remember our guest post in April about the family-friendly Indian restaurant, Saffron?  Well  imagine my excitement when my mother-in-law and sister-in-law planned Mother's Day dinner for all of us at...Saffron!

    I am happy to report that we also had a wonderful experience. Baby A had a lot of fun and loved flirting with the staff (everyone was soooo friendly).  She ate spinach & cheese naan, basmati rice, and yogurt sauce. She also sampled tandoori chicken and bites of other family members' dishes! 

    The only thing I would have changed was our wait- we had a reservation for 6pm (for 7 adults and 1 baby), but apparently so did everybody else (6pm, not the party size), so we had a decent wait and although we gave A a snack before we left, she was starting to get hungry and restless before we sat.

    Overall, a great experience with food that really wow'd the senses!

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Snacks...on the go

    What do you take when you're on-the-go? I tend to have difficulty finding something that will fill me up...and will keep in the car.  During the week, I am an itinerant teacher (special ed teacher who drives around to all their students' schools) and on the weekend I run my photography business.  I am in the car a lot and it's very easy to resort to old (bad) habits~ quick run into Wawa, Dunkin' Donuts' get the point!

    After meeting with a nutritionist recently, I realized I need to make sure I am getting enough servings of fruit and veggies each day.  I get most of my fruit in my smoothies (which I also take in the car), but don't always get the full amount of veggies (1 serving = 1 cup raw, 1/2 cupped cooked).

    I have started taking this:

    It's about 1 cup of celery and 1 cup of carrots.

    I eat them dry, and I stick the carrot in the groove of the celery, like little "sandwiches".  This is a good and easy snack to eat while I am driving, and after two weeks of this, I must say, I actually enjoy it!

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    My NEW Food Processor

    I finally did it! I broke down and bought a food processor!

    I didn't have it in me to drop a few hundred dollars on the really hooked up silver models, so I spent moderately based on good reviews. I have no idea how to use this thing, so I need to get proficient before spending $$$!

    It arrived quickly and I have to admit, it's a little confusing.  There are a lot of parts. I think I have to re-read the manual that I only skimmed..or maybe I should have a friend over who knows what they're doing:)  I figure the more I play with it, the better I'll get. 

    I noticed that lots of Secrets of a Skinny Chef's recipes called for a processor to be used, so I'll be getting into it more and more in the coming weeks. Can't wait!

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Snacking Smartly

    I am a huge sucker for popcorn. Imagine my dismay when I read how bad packaged microwave popcorn can be for you. I always buy the 94% fat free variety, but sheesh. Preservatives, chemicals, ew.

    My little brother suggested a popcorn popper that his friend has and loves, so I picked one up. I followed his exact suggestion and got the Presto 04820 PopLite Hot Air Corn Popper on Amazon.

    I was worried it would be hard to use, but it's EASY as pie! You just pour in some kernals (1/2 a cup, and it comes with a measuring cup), and plug it in. Bang.

    I bought the kernals at Target, but you can get them anywhere, and the only ingredient is whole wheat kernals. Nice!

    One word of warning~ watch out, this thing is no joke, they fly out and fill a HUGE bowl!

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    An Ode to Water...

    Water, water, water...Oh how I love thee.

    I grew up on Bucks County well water and to this day there is no better tasting water to me!
    A few weeks ago, I visited with a nutritionist and one thing she told me was, "be sure to get in your daily requirements of water"!  She gently reminded me that I did it for "your baby when you were pregnant, now it's time to do it for you". Good point.

    I almost ALWAYS have a nalgene water bottle with me to help me ensure I get enough in. I have found that the more you drink the more your body gets used to the intake, and the more you crave!  After our meeting, I went from my normal one bottle a day, to two, and now I am working on three per day, by choice!

    As a rule of thumb, I only count pure water towards my daily intake of water, not coffee, iced tea, anything else.

    I try to drink one bottle before lunch, and one before the end of the work day, or dinner.  The other day I finished THREE before 4pm! WOW!

    As the dog days of summer rapidly approach, it will be even easier to get the water in.

    Spice it up:
    Need some help getting your water in?
    • Drink it ice cold
    • Add ice cubes
    • Add frozen lemons or limes
    • Add fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice 
    Do you have any other tips?

    Benefits of drinking water:

      Cell Benefits

    1. Water is needed by the cells to better absorb oxygen and to function properly.
    2. Aids Digestion

    3. Water is necessary for the body to digest its food properly. A lack of water in the body causes constipation, and that can lead to a host of other problems.
    4. Aides Circulation

    5. If the body is dehydrated, the blood becomes thick, causing difficulties in circulation. Poor circulation can cause headaches and fatigue.
    6. Regulates Temperature

    7. Water helps regulate body temperature by cooling the body in hot weather and insulating the body in colder weather.
    8. Liver and Kidney Flush

    9. Adequate amounts of water in the body aids in the excretion of body wastes and toxins by flushing the liver and kidneys. Individuals suffering from kidney stones can benefit from drinking 8 daily glasses of water as it helps to dissolve calcium in the urine.
    10. Skin Benefits

    11. Ninety percent of the skin is made up of water, and water is needed to keep the skin supple. A regular infusion of water helps to moisturize the skin and also helps muscles to contract properly.

    How much should I drink?
    You've heard the advice about drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily about a billion times in your life, right? There's actually no magic (or science) to this number. The right amount of water consumption varies according to your activity level and size. If you want, just drink enough water so that your urine is clear.

    How much do you drink? Any special tricks to getting it all in?

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Make Your Own: Chicken Noodle Soup a la Skinny Chef

    This soup kicks @$$!! It's chicken noodle with a little bite....delish.

    I got this from Secrets of a Skinny Chef: 100 Decadent, Guilt-Free Recipes.

    10 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup
    2 tbsp olive oil
    2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
    2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
    1 small red onion (I used yellow because that's what I had) chopped
    1 tsp lemon zest from 1 lemon (I didn't have any lemons)
    1 tsp mild chili powder
    1/2 tsp ground celery seed
    1/2 tsp ground coriander
    1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1 32-oz carton reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
    1 cup water
    1 cup small egg noodles (I used 1 cup whole wheat shells)
    1 rotisserie chicken (about 3 lbs), skin discarded and meat shredded (I used chicken breasts, cooked, shredded)
    1/4 cup packed fresh tarragon leaves (I didn't have this either)

    Heat Oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
    Add carrots, celery, and onions.
    Cook 4-5 min until veggies soften.
    Add lemon zest, chili powder, celery seed, coriander, pepper.
    Cook 1 more minute until veggies are cooked through and carrots are soft.

    Add chicken broth, water and noodles to the veggies.
    Bring broth mixture to a boil and cook 3-4 more minutes, until noodles are tender.
    Add chicken and tarragon. Stir to combine.

    Serve immediately.

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Guest Post: Strategies for Picky Eaters

    Welcome, Devon of!  I love following the story of my niece, the "picky" eater, and how my sister is slowly but surely turning that kid into a food lover!!!
    *I have been making my way through the two books below.  Here is a repost of why I started using them!

    It appears that we have reached a big turning point in Lily Bean’s eating habits. For the past few months she has been rather picky when it came to certain food textures. She went from the wonder baby who ate any puree I gave her to the temper tantrum having wild child flailing and spitting out any kind of food that appeared undesirable to her. She was quickly becoming a carb-a-holic- plain pasta, breads, waffles, pancakes, crackers… and bananas. LOL They were her main staple, as well as a few french fries and chicken nuggets thrown in for kicks. And ice cream. But that’s her dad’s fault. Anyway.
    Last week, out of the blue, my stubborn eater decided that she was going to share my chunky bean soup that I was having for lunch. WHAT?! I tried not to get too excited, but I’ll admit- I was stoked. Even more exciting is that this new food-itude seems to have stuck- she is now eating pasta with sauces, different meats… last night she enjoyed our chicken/rice/bean enchilada sauce dinner with us- yelling, “MMMMMMMMMM!” after each bite.
    Now that we’re on a roll, I am really motivated to keep up the food exploration. I wanted to share the two books that I have added to my arsenal. I used some Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards and grabbed:
    The Sneaky Chef by Missy Lapine ($11.35)

    Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld ($9.98)

    New update: I have really been enjoying the show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Friday nights! Yesterday I ordered his book by the same name: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution from Amazon for $19.25!  It’s arriving TOMORROW- I can’t wait!  I will add this one to my arsenal of healthy home cooking recipes!
    What cookbooks can you not live without??

    Saturday, May 1, 2010


    I've been continually building my kitchen so I can make amazingly delicious and healthy meals for myself and my family. Inspired by Jamie Oliver, I picked up a wok pan. My mom actually went through a huge stir-fry phase, she had an electric wok. Unfortunately, we couldn't find that at my sister's house, so I decided to go the non-electric route.

    We've been using this pan non-stop. At Costco, I bought a HUGE bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables for about $10.

    We've been adding fresh veggies to the mix (the frozen mushrooms are pretty rubbery...) and then adding chicken, fish, or in the future I'm sure we'll add beef.

    Delish! There are so many ways to add flavor~ olive oil, soy sauce, spices/herbs, teryaki, etc etc etc.  I haven't gotten any lo mein noodles yet, but I'd like to try my hand at that, too! YUM!

    Not very healthy (lots of sugar), but here's a wondeful Teriyaki BBQ Sauce I made last week!

    The following makes enough to fill a ten ounce jar which previously held instant coffee.
    3 tbsp. butter
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 sm. onions, chopped or finely sliced
    3 c. catsup
    1 tsp. chili powder
    3 tbsp. mustard
    6 tbsp. Teriyaki or soy sauce
    12 tbsp. brown sugar
    Melt butter. Saute garlic and onions together until tender. Remove from heat. Add catsup, chili powder, mustard, and Teriyaki or soy sauce. Stir until well mixed. Add brown sugar. Stir while adding.Excellent for pork chops, ribs, chicken, beef cubes, steak, and chopped meat (hamburger or meat loaf).