Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple Pasta Primavera for One!

Since Greg has been saving the day in Washington, I have been kickin' it by myself in Utah for the last week.  Not only have I been alone, but I've been deathly sick.  I honestly can't remember the last time I have been knocked down so hard by a cold.  UGH!  With all of this happening, I haven't had a decent meal in days.  SO I decided to make a delicious pasta dish, for one.  

I know how hard it is to cook something special and delicious for just one person.  It's quite a dilemma, this cooking for one.  You think to yourself, "There's no use in cooking just for me.  I'll just have cereal for dinner.  I don't want to have a ton of leftovers or dishes to do." Etc, etc.

So here's an easy dish for one that can be catered to what you have on hand.

What you need is:
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Veggies (I used onion, bell pepper, & cherry tomatoes. Use what you have on hand.)
Pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
Parmesan (the real stuff!!!)
Lemon zest (optional)
If you're feeling extra frisky, you could add some bacon or pancetta!!

This is so easy and doesn't dirty too many dishes.  It makes just enough for one hungry person (like me!) or 2 small servings.
Preheat oven to 400*.  Put a medium pot of water on to boil (for pasta).

Chop up your veggies so they are all the same size.  The smaller you cut them the faster they will roast.
This recipe doesn't have any specific measurements either.  So put about 3 handfuls of veggies onto a baking sheet.  

Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pop into that hot oven and roast for 25-35 minutes or until they turn golden brown.  That's the special thing about roasting vegetables, it sweetens them up and transforms the flavors.  Since this is a sauceless pasta, be sure to let the veggies caramelize to develop the flavor.

While veggies are roasting, thinly slice a clove of garlic.

Add the garlic to the veggies for the last 5 minutes of roasting.  (If you added the garlic in the very beginning, it would burn!)

This post is full of fun little facts.  Here's another one.  A handful of pasta as big around as a quarter, will make 1-2 cups of cooked noodles.  This is how much I used and it made a large bowl of noodles.  Perfect for one hungry person (or 2).  Throw those noodles into boil; cook to al dente.

Here's another secret to a special pasta dish, grate parmesan into your serving bowl.  It helps you get that perfect amount of cheese in each bite!

Drain your noodles and toss the roasted veggies and pasta together. Make sure to scrap any juices off the roasting pan into your dish.  Lots of flavor in those juices!!!

Place that delicious-ness into a big bowl and top with plenty of grated parmesan and lemon zest.
**This is not an advertisement for Microplane graters, but if you don't have one, you ABSOLUTELY must get one ASAP!  They are superb.

If you're like me and LOVE pasta, savor each bite.

Oh, la la!

Come to mama!  This is the first meal I've actually enjoyed in a week!

Bon App├ętit!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Simple Salad Dressing

How many of you have fallen off the "wagon" since New Years?  I did really good for 2 weeks, then on week 3, I was traveling and eating out more than I would have liked to. Then last week, Greg got sent to the Puget Sound area to help restore power after the terrible snow/ice storm.  So here I am in Utah, alone and not wanting to cook for myself.  Salads are great when cooking for one, but have you ever noticed that salads always taste better when someone else makes them (a friend, a restaurant)? 

 Here's my secrets to a fabulous salad at home:
1. MAKE YOUR OWN DRESSING.  That bottled stuff is expensive, and full of stuff I can't even pronounce!  It's SO easy and economical. Recipe will follow!
2. YOU MUST TOSS THE SALAD!  Putting all the ingredients in a large bowl and tossing it with the dressing makes all the difference.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because the dressing is even distributed, so you don't get one dry bite and one soggy bite, but tossing works wonders.
3. ADD EXTRAS.  My salads always include a fruit (fresh or dried)...Plus, nuts & cheese, or both.  The best cheese is crumbly cheese like feta, bleu, gorgonzola, etc.  If you let the cheese sit out at room temp before tossing the salad, it mixes in beautifully! Oh and don't forget the cracked pepper!
4.  If you are making a meal out of it, add something hearty so you are satisfied.  It's a challenge to feel full from rabbit food alone!
*Add protein like chicken, beans, fish, steak.
*Have with a bowl of soup.
*Have something crunchy and filling like whole grain crackers or garlic toast.

Here's what you need: **BONUS: it's most likely already in your pantry!
1/2 cup Red wine vinegar (balsamic, raspberry, apple cider would all work depending on the flavor you want)
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup Honey
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Oregano (or Italian seasoning would work, too)

You also need a jar or other container with a tight fitting lid.  I've used recycled salad dressing bottles, mason jars, or old spaghetti jars.  I prefer glass best because it's microwave safe and I feel ok re-using it.

Put honey in your container and nuke it for 20-30 seconds until it liquifies.

Measure out your oil and vinegar.
On a side note, I use canola oil and not olive oil because it refrigerates better.  If you use olive oil, it will solidify in the fridge, canola does not.

Add oil/vinegar to jar.  Throw in the seasonings and mustard.


How cool is that?  It's completely unprocessed, no un-pronounable junk and cheap, too!
I love that this recipe has so few ingredients. It will last a couple months (or longer) in the fridge.

Plus, if you are one of those people who never uses up a bottle of dressing, then you can cut the recipe in half and just make a little bit at a time.  You will probably use this faster than store-bought dressing because it tastes so good!

Pour over your favorite salad!

Simple Salad Dressing

1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar 
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/4 cup Honey
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Oregano

Place honey in microwave for 20-30 seconds to liquify.  Add warm honey and remaining ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake well.  Serve over salad.  Keeps in refrigerator for a couple months.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I was going to post this really great salad dressing today and I got on The Pioneer Woman's blog this morning and she posted salad dressing!!!  Then I got on Tasty Kitchen and they had a salad dressing on their homepage, too!  So in order to be as original as possible, I will save my dressing for another day and instead post a different healthful recipe.  I don't want you all getting bored :)

I am still super excited about today's recipe.  I got the idea from my mom, because she had homemade granola at her house when I was visiting over the holidays.  Since I polished off all of her granola, I decided to make some of my own and try to decrease the sugar, fat and calories... 3 things that hide in so-called "healthy" granola.  Many are well over 400 calories per cup!  

This recipe makes about quart jar and a half; you can easily double the recipe if you end up liking it and want to keep more on hand for you and your family.  Many granola recipes call for some funky ingredients, but this one is pretty simple and many of the items you may already have in your pantry.  This recipe has been a hit with Greg (the hungry Lineman!), his mom, my mom and many more.  It's definitely a keeper and "granola cruncher" approved!  

I was lucky enough to take these photos in my Mom's kitchen that has wonderful lighting (with my new camera).  Enjoy, because any upcoming posts will be back in the trailer, with not so great lighting!!

Can you tell yet that this post is a little unorganized?  I forgot to take a photo of all the ingredients!

Here are the dry ingredients:
Oats (not the quick cooking kind)
Wheat Germ (could also use oat bran, ground flax, etc)
Chopped Pecans (feel free to use your fav nuts)
Craisins (or raisins)
Dried Apples (or any other dried fruit)

Add above dry ingredients to a large bowl.

Here are the wet ingredients:
Applesauce (unsweetened)
Canola Oil **(optional, helps the "crunch" factor)

Put honey in medium sized microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds to liquify.  This makes it easier to combine with other ingredients.  Add applesauce, oil** and vanilla to warn honey and stir well.

Stir the dry ingredients thoroughly, so everything gets some cinnamon spice.

 Add the wet ingredients to the big bowl of dry ingredients.

And stir that baby up really well.  You want every single oat to have a little love on it from your wet ingredients.  This will also help you achieve that "crunch" we associate with granola.
Hello Granola Crunchers!!!

Pour mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly.
(**If you haven't got a roll of parchment paper yet, DO IT!  It's the best)

Place in preheated (325*) oven and bake for 15 minutes, then stir.  Continue to bake another 20 minutes or until edges become golden brown.  Once edges turn brown, it should be done.  It may not feel "crunchy" yet, but this will happen upon cooling....but if you like really, really crunchy, allow it to cook a few more minutes.
You may need to bake an additional 5-10 minutes depending on your oven, placement of your oven racks and how "crunchy" you really like it.  Mine took 25-30 minutes total.
***Be careful not to overcook though.  Granola will go from perfectly golden brown, to over-done in a matter of minutes.  So check it often towards the end of bake time.

There's those golden edges I'm talking about.  It's done!
Oh and if you like clumpy granola, refrain from stirring during baking.
Allow to cool completely on baking sheet.  Once cooled, your granola should be crunchy!!

I forgot to mention that while this is baking, your house will smell absolutely heavenly!  Like the best apple-cinnamon scented candle or Scentsy that you've ever encountered!
I'm serious, it's ama--azing.
Make it before you have company.  They will be captivated and thoroughly impressed!!!

 Sprinkle over yogurt.

Have it with milk.

Put it in a baggie for a quick snack.  
Put it in a mason jar on display.
Get crunching on this deliciousness!

xoxo -- "D-Trash"


3 cups oats
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. craisins
1/2 c. dried apples (or other dried fruit)

2/3 c applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TB canola oil**

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper  (or nonstick cooking spray) and preheat oven 325*.  

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl.  Put honey in medium sized microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds to liquify.  Add applesauce and vanilla to warn honey and stir well.  Add wet ingredients to the large bowl and stir until all dry ingredients are coated.

Pour mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly.  Bake for 15 minutes; stir.  Bake an additional 15-20 minutes and check again.  Replace if edges haven't turned brown yet, checking avery few minutes. Once edges turn golden brown, it's done.   Granola firms (gets crunchy) upon cooling.  Allow to cool on baking sheet then pour into airtight container for storage.

(This recipe is roughly derived from this recipe on Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body blog)

**You aren't imagining it, I added a TB of oil to this recipe.  It seems to turn out even better.  But if you are going for "lowfat" feel free to leave this out. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Salmon Patties

Ok class, who likes salmon?  

Oh, Oh me! Me!  (Picture me, hand raised, jumping up and down out of my desk!!)

I mean, what's not to like?  Delicious pink salmon, eggs, veggies, lemon, bread crumbs, seasoning?  Sounds like a perfect combination to me.
There's a couple ways you could make these.  You could use leftover salmon, or canned salmon.  
Canned salmon is such an awesome thing.  It's super cheap (a couple bucks), and crazy amounts of healthy! Think protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and others.

I try to eat fish once a week, but that only happens like once every 3 weeks.  So I guess I technically eat fish a couple times per month.  I wish it were more, but it's pretty freaking expensive.  Canned salmon is the solution!!

Other cool things, besides the price, about canned salmon:
*You can buy "wild" canned salmon, which is the best when it comes to nutrients.  I've read research that has shown farmed salmon to have 90%+ less vitamin D than wild fish!!!  That's just plain silly, especially since fish is one of our few dietary sources of vitamin D.  
*Canned salmon still has the bones in it, but since they are "canned," or cooked, the bones just melt in your mouth.  Occasionally you get a bigger bone and they make a pop in your mouth like Pop Rocks!  That's why Greg likes canned salmon.  He thinks the bones are cool.  Well not only are the bones cool, but they are a great source of calcium, too!
*It's a great source of omega-3's.  Dietitians and physicians all agree that we need more of these healthy fats in our diet!

OK, I have seriously mastered the salmon patty, it's one of my specialties.  Are you ready?

1 can salmon, drained
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. sweet onion, chopped (you could saute these a bit to take the edge off)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 egg, beaten
2-4 TB lemon juice
1/3 c. bread crumbs (add more if necessary)
2 tsp. dried dill (or fresh!)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
canola oil, for pan frying

Make sure you chop your veggies up really fine.

Combine everything (except oil) in a large mixing bowl.  Stir together with a fork, breaking up the salmon, mixing until well combined.

This next step is the big secret!  Ready?
Coat the bottom of your frying pan with canola oil.  You want it to cover the whole pan.  You may be tempted to use less, but this really perfects the patty and keeps it from falling apart.  Now heat the oil over med-high heat until it's hot!
PS. Definitely use canola or vegetable oil here, because it's ideal for high heat frying.  Using olive oil would not be good for this recipe because it has a lower smoke point.

While your oil is heating up, use your hands to form patties.  Your oil should be good and hot by now.  You want to hear a major sizzle when you place the patties in the pan.

Now cook a few minutes on each side, until beautifully golden brown.

Place on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.

Serve with some healthy sides like brown rice and green beans.  Can you also see what is hiding in the picture?

The WINE!!!  
It always seems to slip into my photos.  
Maybe because the WINE is always hanging out with me when I cook.... 
When I eat.
When I blog. 
The hidden wine makes me think that I should hide some wine in each of my blog posts and see who the first person is to find it.  Instead of "Where's Waldo", we'll call it "Where's the Wino?"
Sounds fun.  We'll see if I remember!

Bon App├ętit!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pumpkin Bread. Quick, Healthy & Tasty!

I am weaning myself off of the sweets.  Goodness, it is so easy to get into a food slump that requires a daily punch of sweets to keep you going.  My weakest time of the day is the afternoon, think 2-4 O'clock PM.  During this time, it's too early to start thinking about dinner (or wine!), but it's too late for lunch --- so what does that equate to in my world?  Something sweet and a cup of tea!  

There are many things in the food kingdom that could satisfy a sweet craving, but when you fall in a slump the real sugary, processed stuff always hits the spot.  Well I'm breaking that slump and you should join me.  The hardest part is making the choice, do I have a cake/cookie/etc (processed junk) with my tea or do I have something with some substance to it?  The cake/cookie/etc (insert favorite sweet) has virtually no nutritional value.  It leaves you temporarily satisfied, but likely to go back for more. 

Again, the choice is the hardest part.  Once you move past the junk and have some real food, it's not so hard.  This recipe is great for the rest of you guys that are weaning yourself off the processed junk.  I realize this recipe still has some processed ingredients in it, but it's a far cry from the usual suspects (cake, cookie, candy bar, etc).  It's whole grain (whole wheat flour), healthy fats (olive oil), vitamin-rich (pumpkin puree, seeds) and tastes great.  

I think ignoring your body and avoiding sweeter stuff all together is a set up for failure.  It will likely lead to overeating eventually.  So allow yourself to eat what your body craves, but tweak it to make it healthier!  If you stick with it you'll eventually go for the healthy stuff automatically!   I've also been having fresh fruit, dried fruit/nuts, yogurt, whole grain toast/PB/honey, and dry cereal for sweet satisfiers. 

This is such a tasty recipe to fill the afternoon void, or even for breakfast with a little lowfat cream cheese.

Plus, it's a "quick bread" recipe, so it's extremely easy.  All quick breads involve the following steps:
1. Mix dry ingredients
2. Mix wet ingredients
3. Combine wet & dry  (DO NOT OVER STIR! It's makes the bread tough and "tunnely")
4. Pour into pan & bake
5. Insert in mouth!

This recipe was adapted from a great blog called  My German the Rockies. Check it out.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread Recipe

*  3/4 cup whole wheat flour
*  2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
*  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*  1 teaspoon baking soda
*  1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
*  1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/4 teaspoon cloves
*  1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

*  2 eggs
*  1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
*  1/3 cup brown sugar
*  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
*  1/3 cup honey

*  2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds/pepitas

Mix the above dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients until well combined.  Add the wet and dry ingredients together and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.  Don't over stir!
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and sprinkle with pepitas.   Bake in a 350* oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from loaf pan.

(At high elevation this bread took about an hour to bake.  I'm still getting used to the elevation factor)


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Diary of Naughty Dietitian Part II

What better way to admit our flaws than through a New Years Resolution?  We can actually admit that we need to lose weight, eat healthier, spend time with loved ones or clean our messy house.
So what do I have to admit to you all during the first week of 2012?  I have had the same resolution every year for the past 10 years!  Surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with my diet.  It has to do with my language, specifically my sailor mouth.  Try as I might, when I get worked up, those naughty words just slip right into my vocabulary, just like butter.
Once again, my resolution for 2012 is to clean up my dirty mouth and while I'm at it I may as well clean up some other "dirty" things I put in my mouth.  And by dirty, I mean the overly-processed, sugary, salty, and nutrition-less foods that sometimes slip into my diet -- Into ALL of our diets.  It's nothing to be ashamed of, if it happens rarely, but if things like soda (diet or regular), refined grains (bread/cereal that's not whole grain, crackers, tortillas), processed meats/cheeses (some deli meat, hot dogs/sausage, american cheese), sweets (cookies, candy, cake, mochas, granola bars...), and/or fast food dominate your diet, then it's time to make a change in 2012.  Take the first step.

Once I start letting these foods into my diet, it's like a downward spiral.  It can take over because these foods are everywhere!  They are at the coffee shop, gas station, restaurants, parties, and in our own pantry. If we all step back and take a look at these foods, what are they?  Most of them were "whole foods" at one point or another, for example, a hot dog was once a real piece of meat or anything with wheat in it was once a whole grain.  But our food industry has morphed our "real" food (meat, grains, etc) into something that resembles food.  In reality it's junk that has been processed until there is no nutrition left in it.  The only thing left is calories, carbohydrates and fat...which we all need, but not in these absurd amounts.  Much of our food is so heavily processed that nutrients have to be added back to them, this is called enrichment & fortification.  Take whole wheat for example, whole wheat has a multitude of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.  However, when whole wheat is processed to make white flour, most of this is lost and must be added back to it.

So it seems simple, right?  Take out the processed stuff and replace it with real food ... whole foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, meats, whole grains, and dairy.  But we have been trained to like junk food, so this is easier said than done.  Junk food is notoriously high in carbohydrates and fat, two things that our body needs to survive.  From an evolutionary standpoint, we may be more attracted to these foods because they provide lots of calories and instant energy to help us fight off that wild beast that's trying to get into our cave and steal our mortar and pestle....or whatever caveman story you can imagine.
Maybe that's why we are so attracted to junk food, but in reality we rarely use our fight or flight response and can usually be found in front of a computer, steering wheel or TV.

So what does the 2012 version of a human need to be healthy?  The same thing the caveman needed.  We need a variety of foods like fruit, veggies, meats, dairy, beans....we just need some more than others. Flash back to the caveman, he had a regular intake of thing like berries, veggies, grains, beans from gathering, plus the occasional meats from a successful hunt.  Let's also pretend that cavemen had cows/goats/sheep and had milk!  Plus, the caveman also ran across the occasional honey pot and whale blubber and he splurged because he couldn't help it!!! ;)
So there you have it, eat more fruit, veggies, beans, dairy, plus a modest amount of meat and the splurge occasionally.
It takes time to retrain your mind & body.... it's an ongoing process.  I struggle as much as the next person.  Be patient, be kind and be positive.  Evolution will come back to you.
And that's my sick-twisted diary entry for the New Year.

Enjoy the good life in 2012.
Dana, the "Naughty Dietitian"

PS. I have been practicing as I preach since Christmas and I feel like a million bucks.  You will too. Just do it!