Quinoa and Turkey Stuffed Peppers

In my last post I mentioned that I have no motivation to cook. That feeling continues, but I had a rare new recipe adventure thanks to the participants in my Diabetes class. We were discussing alternatives for whole grains, and I mentioned quinoa to them. None of them had heard or tried it before! I find that people are able to make effective changes after a little practice (or taste-testing), thus, I made them a healthy quinoa dish to try in class tonight. 🙂 They better love it!

So here is a delicious, diabetes-friendly, easily turned vegetarian, healthy dish! Enjoy!

Quinoa and Turkey Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Robert Irvine’s stuffed pepper recipe on Food Network)

Makes 12 peppers

Ingredients

12 green bell peppers, tops removed and seeded DSC_0383

1 pound lean ground turkey (leave out to make vegetarian)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (or 2 cloves chopped)
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 (14-ounce can) tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 cup diced red pepper
1 tsp. saltDSC_0384

½ tsp. pepper

1.5 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tbl. grated Parmesan, to finish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the quinoa according to the package

While the quinoa is cooking, wrap the peppers in aluminum foil, and bake in the oven until tender, but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the turkey. After turkey is browned, drain. Add meat back to pan and add oil. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic to the pan and saute until the mushrooms are golden DSC_0386brown. Add in the zucchini, yellow squash, quinoa, tomatoes, and red pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in the tomato paste. Remove from the heat. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the cooled peppers. Transfer the peppers to a heat-proof serving dish and top each with 1 tsp. Parmesan. Bake until the peppers are heated through, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

**Cook’s Note: This can be served on a bed of fresh tomato sauce or on its own. Also, I kept this very plain for my class, but I recommend red chili flakes, hot sauce, etc for an extra kick!! Or mix in some salsa in the filling!

Nutrition_Facts_Label

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

As promised… here’s the recipe! Spaghetti squash is a great low carb way to lighten up recipes that are typically carb-heavy. Fill up on fiber with way fewer carbs!Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Serves 6-9; 6 serv.- about 150 cals each, 9 serv.- about 100 cals each

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ cup plain, nonfat greek yogurt

2 oz. light cream cheese
½ cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Place whole squash in baking dish with about ¼ inch water in the dish. Bake at 400 for 45-60 mins or until squash is tender. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat add the butter, onions, red pepper and seasoning. Cook until the onions are soft and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash (will resemble spaghetti) in a medium bowl.  Combine the squash, onion mixture, yogurt, cream cheese and ¼ cup of the cheddar together and mix well. Place mixture in a Pam-sprayed 8×8 baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

YUMMMMM

*adapted from dandy dishes

Memorial Day Grilling Guide

It’s holiday time again! Memorial day marks the beginning of summer cookouts and pool parties. With that comes creamy side dishes, high fat meats, and caloric toppings. We’ve all been working hard to get “bikini” ready so why delay our progress by indulging in such foods? Here’s an easy 5-step planning guide for a healthy, safe cookout that won’t ruin your weight loss progress.

First, a BIG thanks to our military!! You are the reason why I can sleep peacefully at night. We honor your bravery.

Grilling Guide:

1. Choose low-cal, high fiber side dishes.

  • Fruit salad
  • Veggies and dip
  • Whole grain pasta salad with a lite dressing (or even just vinegar with a splash of oil)
  • Lentils or black beans
  • Made-over baked beans (make your own and decrease added sugar)
  • Salsas

2. Choose your “meat” wisely.

  • Extra lean beef (94-96% lean)
  • Bison
  • Pork loin chops
  • Low fat turkey hotdogs
  • Chicken breast
  • Portobello mushrooms (go vegetarian!)
  • Chicken kebabs with veggies
  • Turkey burgers
  • Salmon or tuna steaks
  • White fish (in foil packets)

3. Think your drink (kid-friendly).

  • Diet soda
  • Sugar free lemonade
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice

4. Lighten up dessert.

  • Grilled pineapple, watermelon, bananas, stone fruit
  • Berries in a foil packet break down into a decadent sauce to serve over fat free frozen yogurt

5. For food safety: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. When in doubt throw it out.

Enjoy your time with family and friends! Healthy can still mean delicious! For some more tips see the Memorial Day post from last year 🙂

Why I Hate Diets

I had a client recently who told me that she needed to figure out which “diet” would be best for her and wanted to see what I was about (i.e. would my plan and ideas work for her). Word to the wise, hearing this does not  make a dietitian happy (see this page for why dietitians are the nutrition experts).

Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried a diet. Raise your hand if you think you need to go on a diet. Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought of trying a diet. Hand raised yet? This is a subject that crosses just about everyone’s mind at one time or another. For those of you who have tried a diet… are you still on it? Did it work? And I don’t mean temporarily. I mean right now… did your diet work to the point that you are happy with where you are now?

I may ruffle a few feathers with this post. You may disagree with the things I have to say, but stay with me. There are 11 definitions for the word “diet” according to dictionary.com. I am suggesting that we discuss the word here with the first definition that pops into your mind. I’m betting to guess that it has something to do with weight loss. Am I wrong?

Here are 5 reason why I hate diets:

1. Diets don’t last.

Popular diets promise to produce results in a certain period of time. From 1 day to 2 weeks to 3 months, every time frame is out there. Let me get under your skin and challenge you to believe that you need to make changes that will last throughout your life. No, you do not need to diet for your whole life. But lasting weight loss and then weight maintenance requires making certain changes that can last. Yes, it can be hard work. Whenever behavior modification is involved, our human nature fights it. So hard work, yes. But the weight loss will occur and you will be able to keep if off for life.

2. Diets are associated with deprivation.

Diets tend to have periods of severe restriction of foods from eliminating carbs to replacing real food with a special “cleansing drink.” This is not sustainable. If a diet restricts 1 or more food groups, it is a fad diet and should not be trusted. period. All foods can fit into a healthy “diet (way of eating).” Restriction of food groups (even in phases) suggests that certain food groups make you gain weight. This is not true. When the number of calories you intake are more than the energy you burn, you will gain weight… not because of a specific food!

3. Diets promote unrealistic expectations.

If a diet promotes greater than 1-2 lbs weight loss per week, please don’t trust it. We aren’t on the Biggest Loser here. We aren’t working out 8 hours per day. So for the average individual it is extremely difficult to lose more than 1-2 pounds of true fat in a week. It takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound. Break that down into 7 days and you must eliminate 500 calories per day or exercise enough to burn an extra 500 calories per day above what you ingest. 500 calories a day is realistic. Some diets promise 10 pounds weight loss in the first week. I will promise you that the weight you are losing is mostly water weight and will come back on as soon as you get off that diet. Think 3500calories x 10lbs= 35,000 calories you need to eliminate in a week for true weight loss. That’s a 5000 calorie deficit per day. Not realistic.

4. Diets aren’t individualized.

Why in the world would you want to read a book that 1 million people are also reading and think that it will work (long term) for every single one of those people.You are an individual. No one else has your exact body (twins come close 🙂 ). No one else has your metabolism or body type or composition. Certainly there are principles that are good advice for most, but those principles still look different for each person. This is why a dietitian should be your greatest resource. An RD gets to look at you, talk to you, evaluate and assess your lifestyle and give you ideas for what may work best for you. Your dietitian can give you a plan especially designed for you. That should excite you! Of course, we make suggestions and may have to adjust these based on the results we see, but that’s the beauty of seeing a nutrition expert. We can make it work!

5. Diets imply desperation.

When do you try a diet? When you’re at the end of your rope? When you decide that you don’t like the way your body looks or how you feel? Business Week reported that $40 billion a year is spent on weight-loss programs and products. Why are they making so much money? People are desperate. Can we both agree that the diets aren’t working? In a perfect world we could all learn proper healthy eating strategies so that we never get to the point where we need to lose weight. Well, this isn’t a perfect world. So here we are and you feel helpless. Ditch the diet! Find a way to make small changes that will add up. Is it quick? No. But it will work. Oh, and try to visit a dietitian if you want some help along the way 🙂

*****

Thank you for letting me rant. I hope this is more encouraging for you than the opposite. I want you to know that things can change. Popular is not always best. You can do it! And I’m here to help!

Potatoes Cont’d- 3 down & 3 to go

So the next 3 things I made with the Yukon Golds that have been keeping my kitchen company are very easy to make. Everyone and their mother has probably made these things, yet I want you to think about them in another light. I want you to think about meal planning so that the starch (i.e. the potato) is not the made dish but the side. Take a look. I hope you find some inspiration and also comfort knowing that your everyday, easy meals can and should be healthy staples in your household.

1. Smashed Garlic Potatoes: (when you don’t feel like trying to get smooth mashed potatoes 🙂 )

Ingredients:

3-4 small to medium potatoes

garlic powder (or cloves if you have them)

skim milk

salt/pepper

Place diced potatoes in cold water and bring to boil. Boil for about 10 mins or the potatoes are tender. Drain. Return potatoes to pan and sprinkle in garlic powder and a dash of salt and pepper. Smash with a potato masher. Add a couple tablespoons of milk and continue to smash until you reach your desired consistency. Add more milk if needed.

Finish the meal with veggies and chicken!

2. Oven Baked Fries

Ingredients:

2-3 small to medium potatoes

1-2 teaspoons olive oil (or spray if trying to lose weight)

paprika (optional: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into either wedges or regular size fries (the size will determine length of cooking time). Toss potatoes with oil (or spray all over) and seasonings and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Cook in oven for about 20-30 mins turning once. Keep a close eye as you may have to adjust the time depending on the size of your fries.

Umm... forgot to take pics until they were all gone 🙂

3. Potato Soup (my mom’s recipe)

Ingredients:

1.5 C chicken broth

1/2 C chopped onion

1 C diced potatoes

2 Tbl. butter or margarine

2 Tbl. flour

1 C skim milk

1/4 teas. salt

pepper to taste

In a saucepan combine chicken broth, onion, and potatoes. Bring mixture to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes). In a separate saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, milk, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Combine vegetable mixture and milk mixture. Heat through. Double or triple for a family of 4 (so that there is leftovers!)

Got those veggies in there! YUMM

My family is beginning to tire of endless nights with potatoes as well as leftovers in lunches… so I just have 3 recipes left to go and will update soon! Homemade gnocchi (huge hit tonight), Nicoise salad, and slimmed-down scalloped potatoes are what you have to look forward to!!

*****

What’s YOUR favorite “healthier” potato dish?

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