Category Archives: Farm to Table

Start with Strawberry Toast

Strawberry Honey Goat Cheese Toast

Summertime is the best time to go big on adding more fresh produce to every meal. This is the season of farmer’s markets, pick your own farms, road side stands and super affordable prices in the supermarket produce section.

ALDI supermarkets, with more than 1600 stores in 35 states, serves more than 40 million customers each month- and I’m one of them! Are you? Well keep a look out for more ALDI markets because many new stores are sprouting up. I’m delighted to be working with ALDI this summer to tell more folks about their focus on fresh foods and lots of organically grown produce.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I get really excited to share the happy and healthy benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. Think of your plate as a showcase for good health by making sure you’re ‘painting’ at least half of your plates, bowls and platters with fruits and vegetables. Fruit bowls are fun, but I prefer adding nature’s fresh harvest to delicious recipes.  Here we go! This photo is from my recent appearance on NBC Charlotte Today. (Don’t worry I’ll get to that super creative andfun recipe for watermelon pizza you see on the table.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let’s get back to the strawberry toast. Avocado toast may be all the rage with food bloggers today, but why not slice up summer’s berries and rather than topping your cereal bowl…top your toast!

I like toasting ALDI SimplyNature Knock Your Sprouts Off 7 Grain Bread and adding a spread of creamy honey flavored goat cheese. (ALDI Happy Farms Preferred Goat Cheese Log). Then layer on sliced strawberries and sprinkle with ALDI Southern Grove chopped pecans. It’s a crunchy, creamy and sweet way to start the day and the perfect summer breakfast for families on the go.

Here’s the recipe from the ALDI website which is like a living cookbook of delicious and nutritious ideas.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Toast.

SUMMER SAVORIES

Now on to sweet and savory entrees for lunch or dinner! Making grilled chicken again? Of course you are! But, let’s add a touch of the tropics and create a refreshing Pineapple Avocado Salsa.

Cooking tip: Pound raw chicken breasts to create an even thickness and they’ll cook more evenly and be even more tender and juicy. I like to place the meat between two plastic cutting sheets and pound with a kitchen gadget called a ‘meat pounder’ I think. (:  What a descriptive name! Does anyone know the real name?

Let’s get to that salsa! Buy a fresh pineapple- they’re really easy to cut up. Slice off the leafy top and root end, then slice the spiny edges of the sides. Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and you’ve got two easy pieces to work with.  For the salsa, dice two cups of the fresh pineapple, add one  cup of chopped cilantro, one cup of diced avocado, 1/2 cup of diced red onion, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped. Cooking Tip: remove the internal ribs and seeds of the jalapeño, that’s where the heat happens!

The pineapple salsa is not only delicious, it’s super nutritious adding vitamin C, potassium and fiber to every bite. I’m making this recipe for my Fourth of July cookout! Click here so you can print out the recipe for Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Avocado Salsa.

Camp Cooking Healthy!

Get the kids into the kitchen this summer with recipes that could be part of your “Camp Stay at Home Craft Day!” Kids’ Health and Wellness is a priority for ALDI. In fact, over the next two years ALDI is investing more than $4 million dollars in Kids’ Health and Wellness Programs and has launched its own online grant applications program, ALDI Smart Kids. It gives local organizations the opportunity to request grants and gift cards that support youth programs focusing on education, physical activity, nutrition social skills and the arts.

Bet you never made a watermelon pizza!

Watermelon Pizza!

My favorite part? The grapes around the edge mimicking a ‘crust’! (Ingredients for the Pineapple salsa in the background)

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Insta-Healthy Food Photos


Hey snap happy Instagrammers!  Looks like those food photos you stand on chairs to get just the right angle, add filters to enhance the drool factor and make your friends wait before digging in….are helping you stay healthier!

(Oatmeal cookies with dried berries, banana and peanut butter above, by the way.)

How so? Well, according to University of Washington researchers who studied Insta-food grams, keeping track of what you eat and how much acts as a online food journal.

PeachDish, home meal delivery kit fans, are ALL OVER Instagram sharing the beauty of their latest dish creations. As one of the registered dietitian nutritionists who works with PeachDish, I am happy to report that posting and sharing nutritious and delicious PeachDish meals on Instagram can be a great way to food journal.

I SEE WHAT YOU’RE EATING

And since you are sharing with the world, it’s not a secret note in your private diary. People are paying attention. Did YOU really eat that a whole bunch of donuts, cookies, nacho chips, fries ? Of course, you didn’t.

It was definitely a kale salad with a rhubarb infused vinaigrette.

 

MORE ON THAT INSTA-STUDY

This new study from University of Washington researchers  -presented at the 2017 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems- describes how some people turn to Instagram to track food intake or to be held accountable by followers in meeting healthy eating or weight loss goals.

The online Instagram community uses #fooddiary  and #foodjournal hashtags. #goodidea

EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!

“It’s more socially appropriate for people who are trying to track their diets to snap a photo of their plate when they’re out with friends — everyone’s doing it and it doesn’t look weird,” said UW human centered design and engineering doctoral student Christina Chung.

The interviewees ( there were 16 by the way) said support from other Instagram users ( !LIKE!) helped them stick to their healthy eating goals. It also encouraged them to be more honest about what they were eating.

What’s on your Insta-Plate?

Tips for Food Journaling. Writing or Snapping

  • Be consistent. Try to capture all meals, snacks and beverages. Yes, fries from someone else’s plate do count!
  • Keep track of quantities. It’s OK to splurge but keep portions sensible. If you crave a glazed donut, have one. Food journaling helps you keep track of how often you ‘splurge’!
  • On Instagram, review your grid. The last 9 photos are called your ‘quilt’. Do you see a pattern? This is a snap shot to help you assess meal patterns.
  • Reach out to support others on Instagram who are also using the photo-app to keep a food journal. #foodjournal #fooddiary

Are you ready for your close up?

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Healthy Happy Mother’s Day Brunch


Mother’s Day is one of the best days not to dine out! As a foodie who loves to sample all chefs’ creations, I am a huge fan of dining out. But not on Mother’s Day.

That’s when the crowds descend and the prices often ascend in the wake of taking mom out to brunch or lunch or dinner.

Here’s the link to my segment on Charlotte Today

 

 

So today’s post is dedicated to making Mom feel special at the family table. Or, if it’s a beautiful day taking brunch outside to the patio or porch. But you don’t have to lose any sleep over this Mother’s Day Brunch Menu.  The shopping, the cooking and the presenting are all super easy thanks to the good folks at ALDI, who’ve already thought about our moms on Mother’s Day.

Even Mother’s Day gifts!

If you’re a fan of ALDI you’re already familiar with the markets’ simple approach to grocery shopping. No coupons or club cards needed and a great selection of fresh produce, premium meats, wonderful cheeses, gourmet speciality products ( coffee! chocolate!) and award winning wines. If you haven’t shopped at an ALDI store, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that customers can save up to 50% on grocery bills* as compared to other markets.

*Based upon a price comparison of comparable products sold at leading national retail grocery stores.

Disclosure:  I’m happy to be working with ALDI, as a registered dietitian nutritionist spokesperson as we kick off a summer of celebrations. ( Memorial Day is next!)

OK let’s get cooking!

Mother’s Day Brunch Menu

Spinach, Broccoli and Turkey Egg Casserole 

Berry Breakfast “Cookies”

Mango Strawberry Sunset Smoothies

Mimosa Bar

Recipe Notes and Links: Why they get my vote for Mother’s Day

 

 

 

Spinach, Broccoli and Turkey Egg Casserole:  the recipe is literally as easy as browning  the Fit & Active brand lean ground turkey, placing in a quiche dish or round baking dis, adding broccoli florets, diced red pepper and SimplyNature organic baby spinach and the Fit & Active brand liquid egg. Bake covered for about 30 minutes, place Happy Farms crumbled feta cheese on top and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. I added some diced red pepper to the top for a pretty garnish.

Another tip: spray the bottom of the dish with cooking spray so the egg casserole can be sliced and each piece lifts out easily.

Berry Breakfast Cookies:  These are really, really good and if you make a big batch, they stay fresh to enjoy the next day or two with coffee in the morning.  The ingredients are a healthy mix of Millville Quick Oats, SimplyNature organic coconut oil, bananas, peanut butter, Friendly Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, and Southern Grove dried mixed berries.  I baked them on parchment paper, so the cookies don’t stick. No need to waste a morsel.

Mango Strawberry Sunset Smoothies: All you need is a blender and you whip up these pretty layered breakfast drinks with fresh mango, fresh strawberries and Friendly Farms Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt. Tip: place the mango mixture on the bottom of the glass first, then slowly pour the strawberry mixture to float on top. Garnish with a pretty dice of the fresh fruit.

Did someone say Mimosa Bar? Let’s put the sparkle in Mother’s Day with ALDI’s award winning Chiare Blanc de Blanc Brut sparkling wine from Monterrey. Set up a selection of juices so guests can customize their mimosa with Nature’s Nectar raspberry lemonade, peach and mango blend or the classic combo with Nature’s Nectar premium not from concentrate orange juice. Cheers!  For a non alcohol version, add bubbles with sparkling water and garnish with a fresh strawberry.

For a fabulous and affordable selection of Mother’s Day gifts, check out ALDI Finds. Look what I found for my Mom ( or for my kids to gift to me).  A Hummingbird Feeder…..

…….and a lovely everlasting orchid, perfect for the Mother’s Day Brunch table in my dining room.

 

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Mother’s Day!

Now, where’s that mimosa bar???? BONUS TV SEGMENT FROM GREENVILLE, SC. My MOM lives in South Carolina. (:

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Coming Clean about Clean Eating

Squeaky Clean. Clean as a whistle. Making a clean cut and a clean getaway. Coming clean. The word clean conjures up a streamlined approach to cutting through the clutter, telling the truth, as well as simplifying and often sanitizing life. Clean eating has joined the contemporary nomenclature to describe healthier, more nutritious food choices. Clean: Perhaps meaning that a food product has fewer total ingredients, all natural ingredients and all the information you need to know where your food is coming from is revealed. Clean infers transparency.

But, what does CLEAN really mean?

Clean Tastes: Sugar Snap Pea and Barley Salad from PeachDish

 

There is no official definition of ‘clean eating’ but the original intention of suggesting we move towards cleaner eating was to guide folks to choose minimally processed foods closer to the whole foods in nature. For instance, rather than a banana nut muffin, how about eating a banana and some nuts?

While chefs are creating wonderfully simple dishes starring seasonal fresh ingredients, cooking at home allows you to control every bite. Clean eating principles encourage us to cook more at home so you can see what you’re adding to recipes and control the amounts of added sugars, salts and fats.

The meal kit delivery service, PeachDish, takes you step by step, ingredient by ingredient – most sourced from local Southern farms – to create your own chef-inspired, cooked by you deliciously nutritious meals. How about Bulgar Wheat Salad with Arugula and Apricot with a sherry vinegar dressing?

Why this dish is a clear clean winner: bulgar wheat is a minimally processed whole grain, fresh arugula and shallots are raw, apricots are simply dried and therefore maintain the fiber and other nutrients, sliced almonds provide nut nutrition and the dressing is a simple vinaigrette with olive oil and sherry wine vinegar.

Before we can fully embrace clean eating by rejecting ‘processed foods’, we should know a bit more about what food processing entails and to what extent.

For instance, a slice of bread or bowl of pasta made with whole grains is a better choice because the external, fiber containing part of the grain hasn’t been milled away, as with refined white flour.

But, freezing foods, which is a process, does not decrease the nutritional content of foods. For instance frozen green peas are a wonderful source of vegetable protein, fiber and the heart healthy mineral potassium. I like to make a green pea hummus with a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and season with a dash of salt and pepper.

The US Department of Agriculture serves up some pretty specific definitions for food processing. So here goes:

USDA Definition

Processed food is defined as any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state.

This may include the addition of other ingredients to the food, such as preservatives, flavors, nutrients and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars and fats.

But there’s a spectrum of how MUCH a food has been processed.

Pretty processes. Smoked salmon is cured to create a delicious product. Capers are pickled.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, processed food range from minimally processed, to heavily processed.

  • Foods such as sliced fruits and vegetables, bagged salads and leafy greens and roasted nuts are all examples of minimally processed
  • The next category of processed foods includes canned foods such as beans, tuna, fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Jarred pasta sauces, yogurt and salad dressing have added oils, sweeteners and preservatives, which makes them a processed food as well.
  • Examples of heavily processed foods include crackers, deli meat and granolas.
  • The most heavily processed foods examples include pre-packaged and/or frozen meals.

Remember that wine and cheese are ‘processed’ too.

I like to add fresh ‘clean’ toppings to pizza! Why not add sliced strawberries to pepperoni pizza?

So keep in mind that the catch-all-phrase ‘processed’ often connected to ‘poor’ choices, may in fact lead you to some pretty darn good choices, too.

CLEAN EATING TIPS for REAL 

  1. Eat Your Vegetables….and Fruit; whole, seasonal, fresh.
  2. Enjoy cooking at home to choose healthy ingredients.
  3. Limit added sugars. (including agave, honey, maple syrup)
  4. Limit saturated fats. (the kind in bacon, butter, coconut oil)
  5. Practice food safety in your home kitchen. (Clean utensils, plates and counters!)
  6. Perhaps, don’t clean your plate. Listen to your hunger cues and enjoy foods mindfully.

RECIPE for Sweet Pea Hummus, from The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil

2 (9-oz.) packages frozen sweet peas, thawed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/16 tsp. table salt

½ cup (2 oz.) crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese ( optional )

 

  1. Place peas and garlic in a food processor; with processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and salt; season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 hours.
  2. Spoon pea mixture onto toasted baguette slices or serve with sliced cucumber; sprinkle with cheese.

Happy disclosure: I’m thrilled to be working with PeachDish as one of the registered dietitian nutritionists who champion the great food and good nutrition in the meal kit delivery service available nationwide. Visit the PeachDish website to drool over the delicious meals and marvel at all of the terrific information about their tasty dishes. – Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN LD

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Binge Watching, Binge Eating

Late Night TV Binge Watching Leads to Late Night Snack Binging: What to do???

We’ve all been there. Binge watching a TV series into the night. Just one more episode. Just one more episode and I’m going to bed. But then another cliff hanger leads to another cliff hanger.

It’s late, it’s dark and no one is there but you and your TV screen friends. Dinner was hours ago and you’re getting a little hungry so let’s rifle through the fridge and pantry for something fun to eat.Something to help keep you company while the on-screen suspense mounts!

Could be cheese and crackers, could be leftover pasta, could be a large spoon diving into chocolate caramel sea salt sorbet.

 

You say to yourself, “These calories don’t count.” and “This is fun and who cares?!”

 

 

 

 

But, a few seasons of this bad habit and the pounds will find you.
OK, two bad things are happening here.

1. Not getting enough sleep

2. Consuming excess calories.

So when I watch a TV series now, I brew a pot of chamomile tea and sip it slowly while the drama unfolds.

 


Maybe with one small cookie. Usually not.

Here’s what happens next. The chamomile herb tea (I like Celestial Seasonings Chamomile or Sleepy Time Tea) makes you feel sleepy and lulls you into a comfortable calm that helps you realize you can wait to watch the next episodes tomorrow.

Calories cut and sleep regained!

Now that’s a happy ending.

 

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Montana Meatloaf Recipe

Montana Meatloaf: best. meatloaf. ever.

img_7188 Sometimes the best souvenirs are memories of uniquely wonderful dishes that add a delicious dimension to travel experiences.

This veggie packed meatloaf recipe created by Executive Chef Josh Drage of The Ranch at Rock Creek is beautiful when sliced revealing jewel like pieces of carrot and celery.

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Take a bite, close your eyes and ‘taste travel’ to the ranch lands of western Montana.

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Thank you to Gena Berry of Culinary Works for translating chef’s measurements into home cook lingo.

 

The Ranch at Rock Creek Montana Meatloaf

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Ingredients:

1 teaspoon, olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 carrots, peeled, 1/2″ dice

3 stalks celery, 1/2″ dice

1 medium onion, peeled, 1/2″ dice

1 large egg

1/2 cup part skim ricotta

1 shake hot sauce

1 teaspoon, salt

1/2 teaspoon, black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped

¼ cup breadcrumbs

1 lb. lean ground beef

 

Directions:

In a large sauté’ pan, heat oil and sauté’ shallot until soft and starting to caramelize.   Add carrots, celery and onion and cook until just softened. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg with a large fork, stir in the ricotta, hot sauce, salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and ground beef and gently stir until well mixed.

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Form the mixture into a slender loaf and bake on a sheet pan.

 

 

 

 

Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, until a meat thermometer reaches 160°, about an hour.

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Let the meat loaves rest a bit, then slice using a serrated knife into once inch thick slices. Serve with roasted new potatoes garnished with fresh thyme.

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More on the Ranch at Rock Creek.http://www.ranchatrockcreek.com  From trout fishing to taking a spin on the mountain bike parked outside your door, this getaway is the essence of ‘glamping’!

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Stay in the main house or tuck away into the tented suites complete with footed bathtubs and a fire pit to warm your feet next to the gurgling creek steps outside.

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This western Montana Relais & Chateau property is an outdoor lover’s western adventure and luxe lover’s fresh air pampering all under the same big sky.

 

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CLEAN EATING: 3 Diet Resolutions to Skip!

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It’s time to stretch on the spandex, hit the gym with folks who look like they’ve never been there before ( or in a long time )- bless their hearts.

In fact, YES, bless their hearts because no matter what it take to get back on board with health and fitness enthusiasm- good for you!!!

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But, here are my Top 3 New Year’s Diet Traps to avoid:

 

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#3. If I buy the foods on the 2017 Trend List I’ll be so much healthier this year. 

jackfruitNo, jack fruit probably won’t change your health. But, it might affect how much change you have in your wallet. Often, these ‘super fruits’ are super expensive.

January is citrus season.

lemons

Eat more affordable in season delicious and nutritious oranges, grapefruit and add flavor to cooking with freshly squeezed lemon and lime.

#2. I’m going to cook more at home and avoid eating out. 

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Well, that depends what you’re cooking.

Restaurant meals can be very healthy and in fact, in May 2017 all restaurant chains ( with 20 or more outlets ) have to provide Nutrition Facts information on menu items so you can see what you’re getting into when you order the deep fried calamari or double fudge brownie cake. Or that the hamburger you really want has fewer calories and fat grams than the entree salad you thought you should order. (:

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Back to cooking at home; good idea!

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Thank you Chef Josh Drage, Ranch at Rock Creek for best Meatloaf Ever!

Get everyone in the family to learn to add more vegetable to all meals, even meatloaf! This recipe from The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana is one of my all time favorites because the meatloaf includes big jewel like pieces of carrots, mushrooms, and leeks.

RECIPE FOR MONTANA MEATLOAF: Scroll down below! OK it’s written by a chef, so measurements are in weights. But the ratios work for smaller batches, too.

 

Learn to season with no calorie flavors such as salsas, vinegars, mustards, hot sauces, herbs and spices.

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Potato Salad from Peru is made with olive oil and lemon juice, not mayo.

The Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon is great place to start building your healthy cooking skills.

slsds_cover(My recipe below for Shrimp and Grits-(see recipe posted below).. is just one of many easy and delicious weeknight meals in The Slim Down South Cookbook.)

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peach-dishAlso, jump into a fabulous new healthy food trend- home delivered meal kits such as Peach Dish, based in Atlanta featuring southern grown foods but shipped locally and nationally.I’m working with Peach Dish as one of their registered dietitians to provide nutrition information and healthy cooking tips.

Now drumroll…..my favorite New Year’s Diet Trap to AVOID!!!

#1.  This year I vow to NEVER eat ice cream or French fries EVER again!

Hey, good luck with that. Chances are by Super Bowl Sunday you’ll be knee deep in nachos.

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So, rather than making huge promises that will be a huge burden to keep, make small, measurable changes. For instance, when I enjoy ice cream after dinner I’ll serve myself two small scoops in a bowl and top with fresh strawberries or blueberries. I honestly love French fries, so I’ll allow myself to enjoy them once a week- especially if they’re really good! Try mustard ( no calories ) with fries, as opposed to ketchup (lots of sugar).

And as always remember that The More You Know, The More You Can Eat!

Happy and Healthy New Year Friends! Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN ( French fry lover, especially shhhhh dipped into Champagne.)

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Shrimp and Grits from Southern Living’s The Slim Down South Cookbook, by Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN

 

Makes 6 servings

Hands-On 25 min.

Total 30 min.

 

Parmesan Grits:

½ tsp. table salt

1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

 

Creamy Shrimp Sauce:

1 lb. unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

⅛ tsp. table salt

Vegetable cooking spray

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1¼ cups reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth

½ cup chopped green onions

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp. table salt

¼ tsp. hot sauce

2 cups firmly packed fresh baby spinach

 

1. Prepare Parmesan Grits: Bring ½ tsp. salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in cheese and pepper. Keep warm.

2. Prepare Creamy Shrimp Sauce: Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and ⅛ tsp. salt. Cook in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Add oil; heat 30 seconds. Whisk in flour; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in broth and next 5 ingredients; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in shrimp and spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach is slightly wilted. Serve immediately over grits.

Serving size ½ cup grits and about ⅓ cup shrimp sauce CALORIES 235; FAT 6.1g (sat 1.9g, mono 2g, poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 19.1g; CARB 25.2g; FIBER 1.4g; CHOL 119mg; IRON 3.3mg; SODIUM 74

MONTANA MEATLOAF:

The Ranch at Rock Creek Meatloaf

Ingredients:
• 5# ground beef
• 1100g (2.5#) carrot
• 550g (1.25#) celery
• 550g (1.25#) onion
• 300g (10oz) shallot
• 500g (2 cups) ricotta
• 1 ¼ cup bread crumb
• 4 large eggs
• 20g (.75 oz) salt
• 5g (.2oz) black pepper
• 5g (.2oz) fresh thyme
• 5g (3 shakes of) Tabasco
Directions:
Sauté carrots, celery and onion until just softened.
Sauté the shallots separately and cook until sweet and almost caramelized.
Mix all ingredients in the stand mixer until just combined.
Cook off a test piece and check seasoning.
Split into two or three loaves making them long and slender, the same width all the way down.
Bake on sheets, leaving space between each loaf.
Bake at 325-350 degrees uncovered for 45 minutes.

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SLIM Healthy Holiday Hacks

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It’s the holiday season and time for you to sparkle too.

Enjoy yourself and know that weight loss is a rare bird during this season of indulgence. But you don’t have to gain any weight.

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In fact, maintaining your weight should be the goal so that you don’t wake up on January 1st with a bigger New Year’s diet resolution than you had anticipated.

SLIM DOWN SOUTH COOKBOOK  There’s a reason it’s called SLIM!

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I have four tips and they spell out the word SLIM!

S- Savor the fresh flavors of the season (enjoy in season squash, apples, dark greens and citrus)
L- Linger longer ( take your time and be mindful of flavors )
I- Indulge a Little ( choose smart portions of splurge foods)
M- Make it Happen (go walking, say no to sugar sweetened beverages)

 

Please enjoy this video from NBC Atlanta & Company where I explain it all…plus an easy holiday appetizer. Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Mango.

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Happy National Sandwich Day

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BLT with Avocado from Liza’s Kitchen in Panama City Beach, FL

Every food has its day and November 3rd has been designated ( not sure by whom originally) as National Sandwich Day.

What’s your favorite?

From hero to gyros, sandwiches are easy to eat and even easier to love. History or legends that became history tell us that John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich in jolly old England ‘invented’ what became know as the sandwich in the 1700’s. The story goes that he was an avid gambler and rather than leaving the hot pursuit of winning cards to take a meal, he ordered meat between two slices of bread so he could use one hand to keep the cards going  and one hand to fend of hunger.

The most popular sandwich in the US, according to a number of polls, is the …drum roll……. turkey sandwich, followed by ham and chicken.  But, sandwich lovers and sandwich crafters know no bounds of creativity.

Here are a few ideas to add style and good nutrition to the great sandwich.

Add blueberries to a grilled cheese sandwich. Why not? the sweet pop of the blueberries warmed on the griddle and matched with a melty gouda or white cheddar is delicious.

We all know the BLT, bacon, lettuce and tomato. But why not make a BLAT and add slices of ripe avocado to the stack. Avocados add a luscious creaminess and healthy fats to the mix.

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Pile your sandwich high with salads inside. The Chopped Chicken Sandwich with Crunchy Pecan and Apple Slaw is great way to enjoy veggies and fruit right between the bread.  Recipe is from my Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon.

 

 

Perhaps the Earl of Sandwich would have been even luckier at the tables with this healthy improvement over simply meat and bread.

 

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What’s your beef?

The story begins with the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted. Yes, it’s chock fun of vegetables. The carrots look like jewels when it’s cooked. Thank you chef Josh Drage of the Ranch at Rock Creek in cowboy boot central Montana.

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Welcome to the Ranch at Rock Creek in the Big Sky Country of Montana.

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Yup, this is why they call it Big Sky Country.

The Ranch at Rock Creek is near the historically charming small town of Philipsburg, MT and one of the very special properties on the lux list of Relais & Chateau. 

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Let’s get this glamping party started. Surrounded by wildlife and luxury, it’s so quite that you can hear the creek babbling and the birds singing.

 

 

Activities include horseback riding, hiking, fishing and I loved getting around on my bicycle. The gravel crunches under your wheels and the wind whistles in the trees. Ahhhhhh.

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Finally caught a trout! My guide looks happier than me.

 

 

 

 

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Hiking with my friend Carol Anne Kelly to The Top of the World summit above the ranch. OK, now we’ve worked up a ranch hand appetite so back to that meatloaf!

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I added mushrooms to the mix to create a healthy blend of half pound ( 8 ounces) of fresh mushrooms mixed with one pound of ground meat ( I used ground chuck). The mushrooms add moisture, flavor and take the place of some of the beef, so the meatloaf is lower in total fat. Mushrooms are also a good source of many nutrients including vitamin D. Surprise!

Chef Josh Drage’s Montana Meatloaf features carrots, leeks, an egg, and breadcrumbs and was fabulous. I added the mushrooms for even more vegetable variety.

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The more you know, the more you can eat. That’s the food philosophy I believe in as a registered dietitian and healthy foodie. So if you thought you had to cut beef out of your diet to eat more healthfully, I have good news. You can enjoy beef and a healthy lifestyle.

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Watch the TV Segment here

The secret is learning how to prepare leaner cuts of beef and knowing that three ounces provides 25 grams of protein and 10 other nutrients including iron, B vitamins and zinc. These nutrients help build and repair muscles, maintain brain function, protect cells from damage and help convert food into fuel giving us energy. For lots more on beef and good nutrition as well as a list of leaner cuts and how to prepare them I like this website: www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com 

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Meanwhile…..back at the Ranch………a little sunset wine time with freshly baked tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa.  I love camping!!!

 

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Personal Chef for Busy Weeknights (in your freezer!)

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Weeknights are often busy nights with after school activities, late hours at the office and let’s face it America….the stress of fighting rush hour traffic just to get home.  The dream scene of a home cooked meal made from scratch every night is just that…a dream scene…so why not rely on your freezer as your personal chef a few nights a week?

Whether you’ve batch cooked and frozen entrees on the weekend, when you had a little extra time….or you simply reach in and find a frozen entree prepared by chefs in their professional kitchens…the freezer really is your best friend.  I’m happy to be a spokesperson for Stouffer’s where dietitians and chefs work together to come up with recipes that really are the win-win for taste and health. Their meals are freshly made and simply frozen.

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Stouffer’s Lasagna Meat and Sauce

Stouffer’s Lasagna with meat and sauce is certainly a family favorite and guess what? One serving contains 18 grams of protein and only 300 calories.

There are no preservatives because the freezer does the preserving!

Oh and now the ingredient label reads like a recipe with vine ripened tomatoes, freshly made pasta and real mozzarella listed on the package. It’s Stouffer’s new “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment to simplify recipes to include ingredients we all can recognize (and immediately start getting hungry!).

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Farmers Market Fall Salad

OK, you’ve dashed in the door. The lasagna is baking in the oven. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, hug the kids, get them started on their homework and toss a salad. Don’t want another boring salad? Then, I say, don’t make one. I have two recipes for easy to make and easy to love weeknight salads from my Slim Down South Cookbook that help you balance your plate.

I work with the good folks at Stouffer’s on their #balanceyourplate nutrition campaign.  Did you know that the majority of American families don’t eat the number of fruits, vegetables and whole grains they should for a balanced diet?

So let’s fix that by fixing a well balanced dinner.

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It’s fall y’all! So toss in some of fall’s deliciously crisp apples into a salad. Apples are a good source of vitamin C , potassium and fiber.

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Arugula, grapefruit, grapes and avocado salad

Or if you like grapes, cut them in half and toss into a salad with avocado and grapefruit segments. I like to top with crunchy sunflower seeds for even more good nutrition.

 

 

Here’s another way to #balanceyourplate. While the Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat and Cheese is baking and starting to fill the kitchen with ‘I can’t wait for dinner’ aromas…..go back to your freezer and find frozen green peas to make a great sweet pea hummus.

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The kids ..and you…can dip carrot chips or whole grain crackers into the pea hummus ( another great source of fiber, potassium and protein) for a healthy snack to tide them over before you serve the lasagna and salad. Recipe: green peas in blender, a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Whirr, stir and serve. Smile.

 

So, using your freezer as a personal chef not only helps balance your plate, it helps balance your life because you’ll have more time to talk to the. kids, relax and enjoy those family meals on busy weeknights.

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Now, this is the way to celebrate good nutrition and great taste on any night!

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RECIPES FROM THE SLIM DOWN SOUTH COOKBOOK by registered dietitian, healthy foodie, Carolyn O’Neil

Farmers’ Market Fall Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing  

Hit the farmers market or your super market produce section for delicious seasonal vegetables. Can’t decide what to toss in a salad, toss it all in to celebrate your fresh finds.

Makes 8 servings

1 green apple, diced

1 red apple, diced

½ cup thinly sliced green onion

1 cup chopped baby kale

1 cup sliced Napa cabbage

1 cup sliced red cabbage

½ cup golden raisins

Sweet-and-Spicy Dressing

Makes 12 servings

Hands-On 5 min.

Total 5 min.

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup honey

2 Tbsp. hot sauce

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1 tsp. celery salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Serving size 1 Tbsp. CALORIES 43; FAT 2.4g (sat 0.2g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 0.1g; CARB 6.1g; FIBER 0g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 146mg; CALC 1mg

 

 

 

 

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