Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cedar Ridge Winery

I'm not really sure if it's the fact that we took our Italian honeymoon almost one year ago or the fact that I am craving cheese, but J and I are missing Italy and everything it had to offer....
the delectable foods, the soul satisfying wines & wineries, the rich history coming to life, getting lost on narrow brick streets, and taking in the beautiful Amalfi Coast views.

To help fill this void we are feeling, we headed up to
Cedar Ridge Winery
(half way between Coralville & Cedar Rapids)

It was a beautiful evening to sit, enjoy wine...and water, a tasty cheese platter, nice views and live music.

I think this is our sign that it's time to go.
There are sooo many wineries popping up in Iowa...I once heared Iowa is like the new Napa Valley :)
Find one near you, most have evening entertainment and sampling like we enjoyed at Cedar Ridge.

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Monday, August 30, 2010

About as easy as it gets Tortellini Soup

A few weeks ago when I was still trying to fill my belly with whatever would settle it, I remembered this easy tortellini soup recipe my mom use to dish up.
Quick & EasyTortellini Soup

1 package tortellini's
1 container V8 vegetable juice
1 container of frozen, chopped spinach OR 4-5 cups fresh, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (Italian flavor)
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
Italian seasoning
Brown meat in large sauce pan. Add various Italian seasonings such as oregano and basil.
Add cooked meat, V8, tomatoes, and spinach to large sauce pan over high heat. Add tortellinis. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Heat until tortellini's are tender.

Serve with a slice of fresh mozzarella or grated Parmesan cheese.


Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stroll in the Woods & Our Favorite Italian Picnic

Yesterday was beautiful! You can feel fall in the air. J and I decided to take advantage of the perfect weather last night and headed out to Lake McBride for a hike and picnic dinner.

Here's a perfect spot!

I packed J and I's favorite Italian picnic....in fact, it was almost a year ago we were trekking through Italy for our honeymoon!
the menu:
Tuscan Open-Faced Sandwiched
(as my good pal Robin like to call them)
apple slices (Granny Smith have a nice sour/sweet bite)
pesto (last night's was homemade by Robin....recipe here)
sliced deli meat is optional.
experiment with different cheeses (J likes pepperjack, I like anything fresh and flavorful)
Serve these up on a romantic picnic or for a satisfying appetizer.
Here we are on the beach of Positano, Italy.
Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Egg McMuffin....Healthified

I'm not sure if it's the pregnancy thing or what, but I can't get enough cheese! J didn't help the situation when he brought back some delectable Wisconsin cheese after a salmon fishing trip.
We've got squeaky cheese curds on the left, 2 year aged cheddar, and Apple Jack (blend of mozzarella and something else yummy)
I LOVE cheese and fruit platters. I mean the apple with the aged cheddar is like peanut butter & jelly....a match made in heaven.
The only thing missing in this picture....a nice glass of wine :(

I incorporated one slice of the aged cheddar and one slice of the apple jack into the Egg McMuffins, but you could use laughing cow for a lower calorie option.

Egg McMuffin...Healthified
modified from Clean Eating Magazine
White vinegar, as needed
1 large omega 3 egg
olive oil spray
1 C spinach
1 whole-wheat English muffin
2 thin slices cheese or 1 Laughing Cow wedge
1 slice tomato or 1 T salsa
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tsp hot sauce like cholula
This was my first time making poached eggs! Bring a large, deep sauce pan with at least 5 cups water to a boil. Add about 1 tsp vinegar for every cup of water. (Taste to make sure vinegar is barely noticeable). Lower heat to a slow simmer. Carefully crack egg into a teacup or ladle. Lower teacup pr ladle into water and pout egg out as gently as possible to not break yolk. Egg white will coagulate in water and turn white. Cook until white is formed and set and yolk beings to thicken but is not hard, 3-4 minutes. Remove egg with slotted spoon or strainer; set aside.
NOTE: to have a more fully cooked poached egg as J likes and I have to have right now.....let cook for about 6-8 minutes. Gently lift egg out of water and lightly press yolk (without breaking) to see if it has solidified. Toast English muffin in toaster.

To assemble, melt or spread cheese on base slice of muffin, add spinach leaves, top with salsa or fresh tomato slice. Top with poached egg, sea salt and pepper, a splash of hot sauce and the toasted top.

Nutrition: calories about 243, fat 8.5g, protein 14g, carbs 31 g, fiber 5.5g

Your kids aren't the only ones that get to go back to school....
Looking for a fun way to learn about nutrition and socialize with your friends? Try a Health Study. Each week a small group of friends, colleagues, etc, meet for a "nutrition get-together" based on various topics including: truth on fad diets, clean and green eating, label reading, how to feed the family nutritiously, nutrition beauty secrets and many more! You will be the savviest foodie on the block! A healthy snack and recipe will be provided. Topics can be selected by the group.
Prices vary on group size.

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School Recipes & B-Day Fun with the Family

On Thursday I did another presentation at Continental Western Group on "Back to School the Healthy Way." The focus was on why it is important for kids to eat healthy, how to pack a healthy lunch, and lunch time makeovers.
Of course, there were food samples! The idea behind the samples is they are all easy recipes with minimal ingredients that can be prepared by both a parent and a child (some may need supervision).

from kidshealth.org
4 whole-wheat tortillas (8 inches) - I use Amy's Organics
2/3 cup fresh or frozen spinach, finely chopped
2/3 cup 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)
Cooking spray

I found this marinara made in Coralville, Iowa at the Coralville HyVee
Lay 2 tortillas on a flat surface. Divide spinach and cheese between the tortillas.
Top with remaining 2 tortillas.
Place skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray.
Gently slide 1 pizzadilla into the pan and cook until light golden brown on one side (about 1-2 minutes).
Using a thin spatula, gently flip over the pizzadilla and cook for 30-60 seconds more or until cheese is fully melted.
Remove pizzadilla and cut into triangles. Repeat with remaining pizzadilla.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
You can wrap and refrigerate leftovers to take to school for lunch.

Strawberry Bars
loosely adapted from kidshealth.org

1 c white whole wheat flour
1 c rolled oats
1/4 c butter or margarine, softened
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 c strawberry jam - make sure it is a product that does not contain high fructose corn syrup
3/4 c sliced fresh or frozen strawberries
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, mix everything together except the strawberry jam and strawberries.
Measure out 1/2 of this mixture. Leave the rest in the bowl, and set it aside.
Take the mixture and press it into the bottom of the greased pan. You can use your hands or a spoon. Make sure you cover the entire bottom of the pan!
Using a large spoon, spread the strawberry jam on top of the mixture in the pan. Follow with the strawberry slices. Spread it evenly all over.
Take the mixture that was left in the bowl, and spread or sprinkle it over the strawberry jam. Press it down lightly.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Cut the bars into 12 squares to eat and share!

Each participant got their own sack of samples!
I also sampled Banana Roll-ups.
Birthday fun with the family!
Mom and Dad had us kids over for cake and homemade ice cream. Mom created another cake masterpiece! It's a baby stroller :)

Peyton looks guilty....is that chocolate on the side of her mouth?
Emmerson tried teaching Peyton how to start a race
it seems she left her in the dust

"Wait for me Emmerson!"

"oh my, a camera....how do I look?"

Jazz (my parents and I's little sister from Big Brothers/Big Sisters)

Emmerson catching a ride from J
I love family time!
Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Spring Rolls

Summer Spring Rolls
loosely adapted from Rachel Ray's Magazine, Everyday Living
3 tilapia fillets or 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
sea salt and pepper
3 ounces rice noodles

8 7 inch paper wrappers
24 mint leaves
1 large carrots, shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cups finely shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup peanut sauce (homemade sauce recipe)

my messy work space....despite how it looks, they are very easy to make and tasty!

Carrots, romaine, scallions, and mint leaves minced, shredded and ready to go.
First, pan fry salt and peppered talipia in olive olive over medium heat. Fry for a few minutes on each side. Fish should flake easily when cooked.
In large boiling pot, salt water and cook rice noodles until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Fill a shallow bowl with warm water. Work one wrapper at a time, soak a wrap for 3o seconds and transfer to a clean surface. Arrange 3 pieces of fish or 3 shrimp halves across bottom third of wrapper, top with mint leaves, 1/8 of the noodles, 1 tablespoon each carrot and scallions and 1/4 cup romaine. Fold in sides and starting from the, roll up the rice paper. Optional to stop at the half way point and add 3 more pieces of fish. Continue rolling till sealed. Cover with damp paper towel and repeat to make 8 summer rolls. Serve with peanut sauce.

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Birthday Dinner!

Yesterday was my 26th Birthday! J helped make it a very special day.
We headed downtown Iowa City for B-Day dinner.
Of course a local restaurant, serving local food was a must...Linn Street Cafe!

a perfect night to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine (of course water for me :)

Cheese platter (3 cheeses paired with apples, pears, and strawberries)
Pistachio & Coconut Encrusted Salmon

Iowa Pork Chop stuffed with apple, rosemary and bacon over sweet corn salad

Sweet Corn Ice Cream...yes you heard me right. It had a mild corn flavor infused with vanilla beans.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes! Looking forward to another exciting year!

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Quinoa and Garlic Salad

This wonderful quinoa salad was another one of my girlfriend Leigh's cooking show creations.
I then went on to make it for a nutrition presentation I did at Continental Western Group.
It was a hit!
Leigh also taught the secret to making a perfectly seasoned and flavored recipe....FASS.
Is there a fat? Is there an acid? Is there a spice? Is there a sweetener?
So next time when you just can't figure out what is missing in a recipe....think FASS.

Quick Quinoa and Garlic Salad
1 cup dry quinoa
2 ish cups water
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup sunflower seed

2 -3 cloves garlic, minced SPICE
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice ACID
2 tablespoons olive oil FAT
2 tablespoons soy sauce (such as Tamari Soy Sauce)
2 tablespoons honey SWEETENER

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until all water is absorbed. Let stand for 5-10 minute, then fluff with fork. Place quinoa in large bowl and add carrots, parsley, and sunflower seeds. In a seperate bowl, prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and mixing. Pour over quinoa and toss well. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Today is my 26th Birthday! Wahoo! Thank you J for making the day so special and to everyone else for the wonderful b-day wishes!

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chilled Oatmeal with Vanilla Yogurt

J had a business trip in Atlanta a couple weeks ago. Every morning he'd call to express that he was in love with his breakfast. A coffee shop near his hotel served up this chilled oatmeal that has become a "J and I favorite" in our household.

Chilled Oatmeal with Vanilla Yogurt
a PERFECT way to eat oatmeal during those hot summer days


1/2 cup quick or old fashioned oats (because you don't cook them we find quick to work well)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (I use homemade yogurt flavored with Watkins vanilla and honey, you can use plain or Greek yogurt with vanilla flavoring and honey)
1/2 green apple, diced
1/4 c dried cranberries
splash of skim milk
and any berries you have (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)
1 T of ground flaxseed (optional)

Mix oatmeal, yogurt, diced apple, cranberries ,and a splash of milk together. When thoroughly combined, top with almonds and berries.

a balanced breakfast: whole grain carbs from the oats, protein from the yogurt and milk, and heart healthy fats from the almonds and flaxseed.

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to Eat Healthy at the Iowa State Fair - As seen on KCCI News

Wahoo! It's fair time! Many people look forward to the sites, sounds, smells (not sure about the animal barns), and FOOD of the Iowa State Fair.
Growing up my mom did programs at the Homemaker's Theater. In fact, she claims she just about gave birth to me at the fair on August 16th, 1984. I found that story pretty cool when I was a kid......
ok I still do.

As my sister and I got older, Mom, would bring us along to be her little helpers. Our favorite day was when the Homemaker's Theater had their cookie decorating contest. Oh man, did we pile our sugar cookies high with frosting and sprinkles...we usually didn't even care what they looked like, we just wanted lots of sugar on them.
Apparently, when we took it serious we rocked the contest....blue ribbon baby!
Although my mind set hasn't shifted too much about sweet stuff, it has about finding healthy options at the fair.
Healthy options at the fair!?!?! Yes, you heard me correct.
but first, lets go over some of the worst offenders:
  • Giant Grilled turkey leg 1100 cal, 55g fat
  • Funnel cake 760 calories, 44g fat
  • Deep-fried Twinkies 361 calories, 28g fat
  • Corn dog 250 calories, 15g fat
  • Cotton candy 225calories, 0 g fat
  • Caramel apple (no nuts) 325 calories, 5g fat

It's a good thing so many foods are portable and come on sticks because you will have to do a lot of walking to burn off some of these:

  • Giant Grilled turkey leg 11 miles
  • Funnel cake 8.5 miles
  • Deep Fried Twinkies 4.25 miles
  • Corn dog 4 miles
  • Cotton candy 1 mile
  • Caramel apple 3 miles

so now the healthier options:

  • Turkey tenderloins or turkey breast sandwiches at the Turkey Federation (west of Anne and Bill Riley Stage)
  • Pork chops on-a-stick at the Iowa Pork Producers Association (main location: east end of Grand Avenue; satellite locations: east of the main stand and on Rock Island Avenue west of the Livestock Pavilion)
  • I can't believe I am going to say this, but if you really want that fried candy bar, Oreo (1) 80 cals
  • Baked potatoes and corn-on-the-cob at Westmoreland (south of the Anne and Bill Riley Stage)
  • Salad on a Stick at The Salad Bowl (west balcony of the Agriculture Building; Cultural Center) – an iceberg lettuce wedge with carrots and tomato served kabob-style, served with dressing.
  • Salads at various locations: Campbell’s (Elwell Family Food Center), Diamond Jack’s (west of the Livestock Pavilion), The Salad Bowl (west balcony of the Agriculture Building; Cultural Center), The Greek Garden (north of the Varied Industries Building and southeast of the Administration Building), Master Jack’s (west of the Grandstand) and Steer and Stein (east of the Grandstand)
  • Sandwich wraps at The Salad Bowl (west balcony of the Agriculture Building and Cultural Center Courtyard)
  • Mixed fruit cups, melon cups and shish-kabobs at Beattie’s Melon Patch (west of the Giant Slide) and mixed berry cups at Stockman’s Inn (southwest corner of the Cattle Barn)
  • Veggie corn dogs at Veggie Table (north of the Varied Industries Building).

Tips to help you receive the blue ribbon for healthy eating at the fair:

Now, I am not saying you can't enjoy your favorite annual fair food, say a corn dog. Go for it, enjoy it, and don't feel guilty about it. However, if you plan to spend multiple days, at the fair and make multiple food purchases you will want to use the following tips on how to stick to a healthy plan:

  • Consider eating a light meal before going to the fair, so your stomach wont be empty.
  • Think about your choices before impulse buying.
  • Pick your favorite(s) and stick to these one or two items of indulging.
  • Split high-calories foods with friends and family.
  • If sizes are an option always ask for a small....you will still satisfy your craving.
  • Stay clear of caloric beverages such as soda. A large soda contains about 400 calories. Bring along a water bottle to help you stay hydrated and full.
  • Choose one of the healthier food options above!

Tune in to KCCI Channel 8 news tomorrow at 5 for the "staying healthy at the fair" segment.

Until next time...
look good, feel good, do good