Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Open-Face Veggie Sandwich

It was great to see the family & friends for the holidays.  Greg and I got back to the great state of Washington at about 1:30 AM on Friday before Christmas.  We had a whirlwind of visits with everyone eating, drinking and eating some more.  On Tuesday morning, Greg drove back (12 hours) to the frigid Bear Lake and I decided to stay in The Burg for awhile to warm up!  And guess what? 40* feels like a tropical heat wave! 
Besides all of that, I have been a bit of a glutton for the past 5 days or so.  My belly is bloated, I have sugar-overdose headaches, and I'm lethargic!  So it's time to clean up the diet.  

Do you have a favorite meal? Is it breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack-time?  I can't say that I have a favorite, but I DEFINITELY have a least favorite.  And that would be lunch.  I don't like sandwiches very much, salads leave me feeling deprived, leftovers suck and soup gets old.  I tend to just have a snack for lunch, because I dislike most of the typical options.  But I came across this sandwich and since it's toasted and open-faced, I thought I'd give it a try.  Plus, I'm always trying to get more veggies in and this really pumps up the veg intake.

It's a far cry from your usual lunch offering! You'll need:
Whole grain bread
Low-fat cream cheese (Neufatchel)
Cracked pepper (or lemon pepper)
Sea Salt

Are you ready? Set? GO!

1. Toast your bread.
2. Chop you veg.
3. Spread the cream.
4. Top with the goods.
5. Dash of S & P.
6. Boom.

It's yummy, filling and healthy for those of your getting back "on track."
Plus, making it an open-face sandwich cuts the calories in half....and you can stack the veggies even higher.

Eat it with your hands.
Eat it with a fork.
Whatever floats your boat.

Of course, there's many veggie combinations you could play with:
Avocado, tomato, cilantro + some cumin/chili powder
Tomato, basil, + balsamic/olive oil
Corn, tomato, kidney bean
Arugula, sundried tomato, bell pepper

And if your world isn't complete without meat, that opens up many more options:
Bacon, lettuce, tomato
Turkey, sprouts, cranberry
Ham, lettuce, whatever.

You get the idea.  Get creative.  Stack on the veggies, because I guarantee you aren't getting enough in your diet on a regular basis.  Just do it.

Because I said so.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Oh, So Soft & Chewy!

This is a total shocker to many of you chocolate lovers out there, but I'd rather have rich & creamy... or sweet & fruity ... or sugary & spicy.  Either way, this recipe definitely satisfies that sweet tooth.  This cookie recipe just plain kicks butt.

I think Santa would enjoy it, too.  It might just get you back on the "nice" list at the last minute!

What is the perfect oatmeal raisin cookie to you?
Does it have a slight crisp on the outside and a perfectly soft and chewy center?
Is it cinnamon-y and sweet?
Does it even have a glaze on it?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this recipe is a "must-have" in your repertoire of cookies!

Another bonus of this recipe is that it uses melted butter.  I mean, who really remembers to put butter on the counter for a few hours to let it soften?  I can honestly NEVER remember to do this.  So cookie recipes that use melted butter automatically go to the top of my list.

Here's your ingredients:

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients, except oats, raisins, & nuts.
In a separate bowl, cream the melted butter and sugar.

Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, egg/egg yolk for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.
This seems like a long time, but just trust me!

Beat in the dry ingredients until well blended.  Then stir in your oats, raisins, & nuts (optional).

Drop spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  And if you're thinking about skipping the parchment, think again!  Parchment makes your cookies perfect!  JUST DO IT!

Bake in a 325* oven for 14-16 minutes.

Or if you're like me, living in a trailer with a fussy oven at 5,000 ft elevation, they took about 20 minutes.

Allow your cookies to cool on the cookies sheet for a few minutes before placing on cooling rack.

If this doesn't look scrumptious enough....there's more!

Grab your milk & powdered sugar and get ready to get wild!

In a small bowl, dump in 1/3-1/2c powdered sugar and a couple teaspoons of milk.

 Whip it up with a fork until smooth.

If it's too runny, add more pow.
If it's too think, add more moo.

You want it to be a nice consistency that you can drizzle over your cookies.

Once your cookies are cool, drizzle the glaze over those beauties!  Isn't that stunning!?  You know you want to make these.  Go ahead, I give you permission.  It's the perfect cookie for Santa.

Here's the recipe:
Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted (1½ sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 heaping cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional

Melt butter and let cool slightly. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Your cookies turn out so much better with parchment paper. Believe me! Buy some!

Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt).

In a separate bowl, cream butter & brown/white sugar until well blended. Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, egg/egg yolk for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy. Blend in dry ingredients. Add the oats, nuts, and raisins.

Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes. Don't over-bake! The edges should look brown and the centers still soft. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before moving to cooling rack.

Optional Glaze
1/3-1/2c powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons  milk

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and whip until smooth.  Drizzle over the top of cooled cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grasshopper Pie

Yesterday was Greg's birthday and we spent it in the middle of no-where, sub-arctic Idaho.  It was -7* degrees this morning! I was feeling kind of bad that he had to spend his birthday working in the cold, so I wanted to make him a cake.  The problem with this is that we are staying in the cabin shown below:

Even by my trailer-trash standards, it's tiny.....and it has no oven. So a cake was out of the question.  But I had to make him a dessert, because he has been OBSESSED with sweets lately.  Which is WAY out of character.  For the past 5 years of our relationship, he has been the guy that says, "I'm not into sweets."  As for me, I won't let any form of sweets past me!  Within the last 6 months or so, he has become a sweet-monger! And I'm loving it!  He finally understands my post-dinner sugar cravings!  So I decided to make him an ice cream pie!

Ok, this is really simple. Here's what you need:  A graham cracker crust, chocolate mint cookies (or Oreos), and chocolate chip mint ice cream.
As you can see, the store around here only carries "Western Family," so the whole sha-bang is generic!  You would think the generic brand would be cheap, right?  Not in BFE!!  This is the only store within 30 miles, and it's wickedly pricey.  The guy in front of me paid $10 for a bag of string-cheese.  Wow.

Moving on.  Let your ice cream sit at room temp until it's softened.
Sneak a couple bites to make sure it's ok for your guests ;)

Spoon the softened ice cream into your prepared crust.  You could always make your own crust.  Graham or Oreo crust would both be good.

Next place a few cookies into a plastic bag and crush them with a mallet or the back of your hand.

Be sure to leave a some big chunks. Come on, everyone likes big chunks!

Now sprinkle your crushed cookies on top and put the pie in the freezer for 6-8 hours.  The longer the better.

And if you're an idiot like me, and you want to surprise the birthday boy, light candles over the ice cream when you think the birthday boy is getting out of the shower.....  Except he stayed in there for another 5 minutes and the cake was melting!  Here's a little advice, light the candles and immediately blow them out!

There's the birthday boy digging into his cake!

Since it was just the 2 of us, we ate it straight out of the  pan.  Classy, I know.  You really can't go wrong with cookies & ice cream.

Feel free to change this recipe to whatever your favorites are.  Think cookie dough ice cream and crushed chocolate chip cookies.  Or peanut butter ice cream and Reese's.  Or chocolate ice cream and Butterfingers.  I could seriously go on forever.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Where in the heck are we?

Greetings from no-where Utah/Idaho.  We are in the Bear Lake area, which is 1/2 in Utah and 1/2 in Idaho.  We're staying in St. Charles, ID (population 156).  It's a wild party out here.

I went running and did not see a human being or moving car for 4 miles.  The only signs of life are cows, horses and dogs.  It was quite peaceful.  A big change from the smog, traffic and industry of Salt Lake.

Of course, there is the occasional tractor or snow plow (I'm not sure who they are plowing for!)  But overall, this place is lovely.  It's a winter wonderland, snowing a little each day.  It is enhancing my holiday spirit!

This is my earnest attempt at enjoying winter.  For those of you who know me, I'm not exactly into winter.  I'm one of those people who is always cold.  I'm permanently shivery from October through May.  

I think I'll start planning my next tropical vacation.
Bottoms up!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Diary of a Naughty Dietitian (Part I)

If you have been reading my blog, you may have noticed that I'm not perfect when it comes to nutrition.  There's a very misleading notion that all dietitians follow a strictly healthy diet.

When I first meet someone and I tell them that I'm a dietitian, they usually get a little look of guilt in their eyes, like, "Crap, I bet she knows that I had a Snickers bar for lunch! I'm such a bad, naughty eater."
Then I get a feeling of judgement, like, "I bet they are worried about what I think about their diet."
Well the truth is.... I don't judge.  I don't judge because I am naughty too.  Just because I became a Registered Dietitian, studied nutrition for 7 years, and have a Masters degree in nutrition doesn't mean I am exempt from the everyday struggles of eating a healthy diet.

I binge on cookie dough & cake batter when I'm cooking sometimes.
I skip lunch.
I don't always eat enough fruits & veggies everyday.
I love red meat.
I drink too much coffee.
I eat a lot of carbohydrates.
I have sweet cravings that I'm pretty sure could move an 18-wheeler.
I don't drink enough water.
I am comforted by food.
I probably drink too much wine. ;)

And this list could go on and on.  Being a healthy individual has so many parts.  It's not just eating healthy.  It's emotional, psychological, physical and social.

Although I don't have a perfectly clean diet, I am 100% happy with my health.  Being too extreme will lead to unhealthiness and unhappiness.  Being on too strict of a diet plan will eventually lead to failure.

For example, a young man, "Joe," decides that he's going to be on a RAW diet.  So the only thing he eats is fruits, veggies, legumes, raw get the picture, his diet is extremely limited.  His girlfriend & friends begins to resent the new diet because they never get to go out to dinners together, have casual dinner parties or football takeout on Sundays.  Joe's family finds his diet odd and is offended when he doesn't come to family affairs that involve food.  They question him when he does show up and it usually leads to a heated conflict.  Joe's co-workers notice that his mood has changed and he's pre-occupied with food.  Joe is obsessed with the number on the scale.

An opposite example, portrays the same issues related to extreme food habits.  A middle aged mom, "Carrie," has entirely lost control of her diet.  She is stressed with work, school, kids, and family.  Carrie has given up on eating a well-balanced diet because she doesn't have the time or effort left.  So she skips meals, gulps soda/coffee/etc. all day and binges at night.  She overeats at dinner because she hasn't eaten all day, then snacks all evening on cookies, cake, chips, and drinks.  Carrie's family is concerned because she has no energy to play with them and she her attitude is always very short.  Her friends are concerned because she is losing her self confidence and is no longer excited about their monthly "girls night out."  Carrie has steadily gained 10 pounds per year in the last 5 years and is carrying around an extra 50 pounds.

It's simple, food is social and relationships are affected by how we chose to eat.  If your diet interferes with your relationships, it's just not right.

So how do you find that happy place that allows you to be confident and happy?  It's all about balance.  This is the only way I have found to be content with my diet.  My main goal is not to create the perfect diet, it's to find a perfect balance.  I strive to create synergy between my splurges, my life, my exercise patterns and my true nutrition needs.  In the big picture, we should be meeting our dietary needs most of the time.  I follow The 80/20 Rule.  I make an earnest effort to eat well 80% of the time and the other 20% I allow myself to eat the foods I crave, socially drink, & try new things.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

By following this simple rule, I make my body and mind happy.  When I first began studying nutrition, I tried to have a very clean diet.  Everything was low-fat and my meals were all planned out.  I found that the stricter I was on myself, the more I craved food for comfort.  It led to overeating and feeling terrible.
I slowly learned that the occasional splurge was just what I needed to stay on track.  So nowadays I exercise "most" days and I eat healthy "most" days.  And on those off days, I don't feel bad about it.

I love being a naughty dietitian because I feel like a real person.  I don't judge and I can relate.

This new area of my blog is going to discuss my outlook on nutrition.  Being healthy doesn't have to be difficult or extreme.  I want to take on a variety of topics here.  I look forward to hearing your comments & suggestions.

Cheers, D.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Personal Pizzas - Super easy, the possibilities are endless

Here in Salt Lake, we had a big wind storm last week.  It was nuts!  The wind gusts were clocked over 100 MPH.  I feel like I can't escape the bloody wind no matter where I travel!  Semi trucks were being blown over on the highway, so what was preventing the 5th wheel from blowing away like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz?  It was a wild ride.  
At one point, I took the dog (Jessi) outside to go potty and when I began to walk back in the trailer, Jessi put on the brakes and refused to come back inside.  She looked up at me with those big puppy-dog eyes and said, "You've got to be crazy if you think I'm going back in that thing!"  She would rather sit outside in the storm than be in the 5th wheel "a rattlin' and a rollin'".  So I went back inside and sat close to the door, so I could bail out if this mother went flying.  I mean dogs have good instinct, they know when stuff is wrong.  So I took a hint.  In the end, we survived, but Jessi and I were bachelorettes for about 5 days while "the man of the trailer" was out working on the storm power outages.  That's right my friends, you can thank my love for lights and warmth during the holiday season! Greg worked from Thursday morning at 7 until Monday at noon, taking periodic 4 hours power naps.  I didn't see him for 5 days!  That's just plain crazy.

So while I was "bach"-ing it, I made some bachelor food.  Here's a recipe to use if you are ever bach-ing it and don't want to cook a full sized meal.

Here's what you need: Pita bread (I used whole wheat), olive oil, grated cheese, green onion, bell pepper, cilantro, cherry tomatoes & avocado.

PS. I made grilled cheese with pita bread too and it was scrumptious.  It might be one of my new favorite kitchen staples.

Chop up bell pepper, green onion and tomatoes.  Saute in a little olive oil on medium high heat until pepper soften, but still have a slight crunch.  Remove from pan.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat and place pita bread on pan, with the top side facing down.  Heat for a couple minutes until toasty & golden.

Flip over pita, then top with sauteed veggies and a handful of grated cheese.

Place a cover on top for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.

And boom, perfect bachelorette food in minutes.

Plate your personal pizza.  Top with avocado and fresh cilantro.  I cut mine in 1/2 with a pizza cutter and got after it.

It was you get a good serving of veggies, fruit, whole grains and dairy!  Almost a perfect meal, it's just!

Bachelorette approved.  I'm pretty sure this would be bachelor approved too, you just might have to add some MEAT!  :)

The possibilities are endless: my pizza was fajita style but you could also do some more traditional styles:
Margherita (tomato, basil, mozzarella)
Hawaiian (canadian bacon/pineapple)
Bacon bits and olives
Meat lovers

Or you could get creatives with the toppings:
Sundried tomatoes, feta and spinach
Brie, basil and peach slices
Sharp cheddar and granny smith apples
Caramelized onion, bacon and gouda cheese

I could seriously go on forever.  Just throw in a unique combination of whatever you have on hand.

The perfect dinner on a busy weeknight.  Of course I paired mine with a healthy glass of vino.


Friday, December 2, 2011

DIY Ruffled Rustic Tree Skirt

This is one of my first successful DIY projects.  I am far from creative.  I've never been referred to as artistic.  There is little craftiness in my blood.  I think it's genetic from my mom's side of the family.  SO, this project must be hard to screw up.  If you are craft-challenged like me, this is a rewarding project because it actually turns out like it's supposed to.

I mean, how cute is that?!?!?!

I saw it on Pinterest, I pinned it, and I actually DID it!  Woo hoo!

So here's how it's done.

Turn on some tunes.  I used Michael Buble - Christmas! I'm in love with him.....but back to the task at hand.  Start out by laying yourself on the floor and stretching for 10-15 minutes, because you are going to be bent over this project for quite awhile and your back might be killing you when it's all said and done.  After you're good and loose, get your supplies.  You will need:

Queen sized flat sheet (you're color choice)
Old tree skirt OR you can use a piece of thick fabric like felt/canvas and see this website for how to cut it.
Hot glue gun 
Plenty of glue sticks

I got the tree skirt and the old sheet from the thrift store, so I spent a total of $6 on this project (plus my hourly wages, of course).  I picked a tan sheet that was sort of speckled looking.  It worked perfectly.  You don't even notice the dog hair all over it!!  Haha.  It would be cute with white (if you have a white dog) or even green/red if you're really festive.  I also saw some other crafters that used burlap.

Turn on your glue gun. Start by cutting the edging off your sheet.  Save the top hem (shown below).

Now you're going to use your saved hem for tracing strips.  On the backside of your sheet, trace 10-20 strips with a pencil.  Again make sure you trace on the back, so you don't have pencil marks showing on your finished product.

Go ahead and cut along your traced lines.  The strips don't have to be perfect by any means, and if they start to fray, that's great!  It adds to the "rustic-ness."

After you cut all your strips of sheet, it's time to start glueing.  Place a strip of hot glue on your skirt "mold" and start pressing the sheet onto the glue.

 Pinch the fabric every inch or so to create a ruffed look.

Once you go all the way around the outside of the skirt, start your second row.  Make sure the rows overlap a bit so you don't see the underneath.  Keep going and going and going until you complete!!

You might have to start drinking half way through, because it's time consuming!  But seriously, look at the end product!!!  How awesome is that?  And I only burned myself a couple times......  Now, if we only had room in the 5th wheel for a Christmas tree!

What do you think? Pretty crafty, huh?