Friday, December 27, 2013

Recipe: Spaghetti Caprese

This is a great solo week night dinner that's under 500 calories!


  • 2 oz. spaghetti
  • 1 large diced heirloom tomato (seeds removed)
  • 2 TBS fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 oz mozzarella, part skim (finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup cannelloni beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • fresh parsley (to taste)

To Make:

  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Toss cooked spaghetti with tomato, sliced basil, garlic, olive oil, and mozzarella. The goal is to get the mozzarella to soften just a bit.
  3. Finish dish with cannelloni beans, drizzled with white balsamic vinegar and spring of fresh parsley (or more basil, if you prefer).
Servings: 1
Per Serving: 440 calories, 70 g carbs, 11 g fat, 23 g protein, 14 g fiber, 11 WW pts

Monday, December 16, 2013

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Goat Cheese Pasta with Green Peppers and Mushrooms

This was one of those "on the fly" recipes which turned out surprisingly good. For those who aren't tomato fans, I'll let you in on a secret: I'm actually not a fan of them, either. However, I've found that if I buy cherry or grape tomatoes and quarter them, they cook down and become more of a sauce than actually pieces of tomato.  When the goat cheese mixes in, the resulting sauce is reminiscent in texture and color to a vodka sauce, but its much lighter and has a delightful "tangy" flavor that's absolutely addictive.

  • 2 oz dry pasta
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced into thin strips (or color of your preference)
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 oz creamy goat cheese (I'm using Vermont Creamery)
  • salt/pepper/garlic powder -- to taste
To Make:
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Spray a pan with non-stick spray, and saute pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes until tender. The tomatoes should break down. Season with salt/pepper/garlic.
  3. Add pasta to pan with sauteed vegetables. Add goat cheese and mix to fully incorporate. 
  4. Remove from heat and serve.
Servings: 1
Per Serving: 333 Calories, 60 g carbs, 6 g fat, 15 g protein, 9 g fiber; 9 WW Pts

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Recipe: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings"

Saturday night is when I have my cheat meal. Actually, Saturday night is when I pay homage to one of the world's most perfect foods: Buffalo Wings.Needless to say, buffalo wings are some of my favorite foods. Under duress, I may admit to dreaming about them occasionally. Unfortunately, they aren't exactly the healthiest things out there. In fact, with each individual wing clocking in at 3 points, they may be closer to the "unhealthy" end of the spectrum than a lot of other foods -- especially the amount I'd ideally like to be eating!

The good news is, I found a substitution which will allow me to get that crispy buffalo kick I love.

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch salt substitute
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Mix flour, water, salt, and dash of hot sauce into a small bowl.
  3. Chop cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Dip pieces into batter until coated evenly, then place on a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until batter has hardened.
  5. Once cauliflower has completed baking, brush pieces with your favorite hot sauce and continue to bake for a few more minutes, until cauliflower is crispy.
  6. Remove from oven and enjoy!!
Serves: 4
Each Serving: 104 calories, 23 g carbs, 1 g fat, 4 g protein, 4 g fiber, 3 WW Pts

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Dreamed a Dream.... of Chopped?!

A few nights ago, I had a dream I was a contestant on Chopped. I honestly don't remember what ingredients were in my appetizer and entree baskets, but my dessert needed to include:

  • Chocolate
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Celery
Honestly, if I'd been given these ingredients in real life and told to create in 30 minutes, I don't know what I would do. But in the dream, I decided to make "Dessert Nachos".

First, I went to the pantry for flour tortillas, which I cut up, salted, and threw in the oven to crisp up into chips. Then I chopped up the chocolate and put it on a double boiler to melt. Finally, I chopped up the mango, orange, and celery and marinaded them with fresh mint, tequila, and a bit of rum -- so that the end result was a salsa of sorts. Finally, I took my tortilla chips out of the oven, and drizzled my melted chocolate over the chips. 

Before everyone gets too excited, I woke up before I finished the dream -- so I don't even know if my plates were done by the time the buzzer sounded. I like to think I won, though.

To be honest, I almost want to try to make my dish in real life, just to see how it would've tasted. Hmmmm could make a great Manfriend Taste Test video.....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jenny Craig: Does it Work?

Some people find that they have an easier time losing weight if they join a formal program, rather than go at it on their own. I cannot say enough positive things about MyFitnessPal and Weight Watchers, but I also wanted to provide you with information on other diets that are available.

For those unfamiliar with the Jenny Craig Program, the basis of the program combines dieting with counseling. 

According to the Jenny Craig Wikipedia:

Jenny Craig offers weight loss programs tailored to women, men, people with diabetes and seniors. Clients are provided with individual, private counseling sessions with program consultants.  Initially, clients are given a planned menu to follow, utilizing the company's line of frozen and dry foods, along with grocery items like dairy and vegetables. Clients later are able to customize their own menus using the same range of foods. The goal of the program is that once clients reach their desired weight levels, they no longer need to rely on the program's prepackaged food, planned menus, or consultations to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My dear friend Serena, who is currently having great success on Jenny Craig, has agreed to be interviewed.

Steph: Hi Serena, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. How long have you been on Jenny Craig?

Serena: Hi Steph, I've been on Jenny for approximately 5 months.

Steph: What do you believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the Jenny Craig program?

Serena: Strengths I would say are that Jenny's plan definitely helps you get your calories in check and teaches you portion control.  It is so simple to follow, you have to legitimately TRY to fail.  Meal plans can be picked for you, or you can choose them yourself.  You're told what to have supplement wise and there's even a guide for "a yogurt is equivalent to a milk"  "one hotdog counts as 2 meats".  

Weaknesses, I'd say for me, were that after a while i got bored with the food.  HOWEVER, I don't like cheese, so this cut out a TON of options for me.  In addition, because the plans are so simple to follow, it becomes mindless.  Which can be great because it's so simple, but then when you need to choose your own food off the Jenny meals, you have to start paying closer attention to how many proteins, sugars, carbs, sodium etc.
Steph: Is exercise incorporated into the Jenny Craig program?

Serena: It is definitely encouraged!  I was losing weight before I was exercising while on Jenny, but hit a plateau.  Once I incorporated exercise as per the suggestion of my consultant, the weight started to come off again. Jenny also has videos and other exercise supplies to help give you options.

Steph: Is the food good? Do you exclusively eat the Jenny food, or do you supplement it with your own cooking? How do you think that has hindered or helped you in the short and long term?

Serena:  The food is good, but like i said before, I don't like cheese, so that hinders a lot of what I get.  Overall, i enjoy most of the options I have and I just avoid the ones I dislike.  Also, I became bored quickly, so I began supplementing -- At first, I made unhealthy choices, which led to another plateau.  Now, I cook my meals at home and use some of the recommended recipes on Jenny or other weight loss sites. is probably my favorite.

Steph: How important do you believe it is to have that consultant acting as a cheerleader for your weight loss?

Serena: Jenny has you meet with a private consultant once a week.  It's nice because they ask you how your previous week went, weigh you, see what you have planned for the week upcoming, and help you devise a routine that can help you continue success.  I personally like the one-on-one time because I can focus on myself and what I need to do all while getting another person's opinion.  And if you don't mesh well with your consultant, Jenny let's you switch anytime until you find the right match, that's really important too because if you don't like your support system, well then how is it going to support you?

My consultant specifically seems excited to hear when I'm doing well in life in general, not just with weight loss success. That kind of all-around encouragement helps push me to strive more because its someone who isn't a part of your everyday life, but they are still in your corner. 

Steph: How much weight have you lost on Jenny Craig since you started?

Serena: I've lost about 25 on Jenny.  I had 2 plateaus but overall I am happy with the results.

Steph: Can you describe your diet history?

Serena:  I have been trying to lose weight since high school and have tried quite a few things.  Fad diets i would either not stick to or gain the weight right back.  I tried Weight Watchers but it was difficult for me to follow--I also don't think I was READY to lose weight.  I got to a point where I came close to 200lbs, and at that point I was like "ummmm, no. I need to change this RIGHT NOW".  Once I made that choice for myself, i made some small changes, lost about 10 lbs, and then chose Jenny.

Steph: Have any dieting/fitness advice for my readers?

Serena: If you want to lose weight or get healthy or into shape, it has to be completely your decision.  You need to want it bad enough.  I also recommend putting up photos of what you don't want to look like (a picture of some really obese or unhealthy person) and then some photos of what you do want to look like--I have photos of Allison Sweeney up because although shes fit, she struggles to this day and she's still a little curvy   To me, that's inspiring and inspiration is motivating.  You know what is good and bad food wise, it's just will power.  

Also, learn to cook!  Jenny, Nutrisystem, and even WeightWatchers (Smart Ones) offer meals for you, but those are quick/easy solutions.  In the end, some of them can be high in sodium or lacking on other nutrients so they aren't reliable weight loss tools.  Learning to cook not only keeps you a little active, but allows you to experiment with your own flavors and have leftovers if the dish came out well!

Steph: Any last thoughts?

Serena: In regards to pricing, Jenny sometimes does deals. When it is not a deal, the program costs $30/month plus the cost of food.  Sample deals have been $20 for 20lbs plus the cost of food (then in fine print it says or 20lbs or 10 weeks -- whichever comes first).  There are also longer term or more expensive programs but there are incentives with these.  For example, pay $349 for a year (plus the cost of food) then get half back when after a year of hitting your goal you are still within 5lbs. Another program features a special arm band that calculates your sleep, exercise, EVERYTHING.  This is more expensive, but can be helpful if you need/want the extra information about when your body is burning the most and least.

Here's Serena -- before and after:

Serena plans to continue her weight loss and healthy lifestyle. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Carpet Alarm Clock

I was surfing Pinterest today for post ideas and came across a carpet alarm clock -- that is, an alarm clock embedded into a smart carpet, which you have to stand up on to turn off the alarm's beeping.

Seems effective. I mean, there's nothing stopping you from crawling back into bed once the alarm is off, but I guess at that point you're up and awake.

But why stop there?!?! I'm now waiting to see an alarm clock that forces you to go through a mini-workout, squats, crunches, lunges, push ups, and jumping jacks. I imagine it would be more of a gag gift than anything, but you never know what kind of fitness resolution could start with this kind of product.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turbo Roaster Cooks Poultry in Half the Time

Americans love their poultry -- They consume more than 8 billion chickens every year.  And, this Thanksgiving, according to a National Turkey Federation survey, they will gobble down about 45 million roasted turkeys.

A conventional oven cooks turkey from the outside, which tends to dry out the meat. Enter the TurboRoaster, with its vapor-infusion system, which cooks poultry from the inside, guaranteeing juicy and tender meat. The TurboRoaster takes the guesswork out of cooking and  produces a perfect 6-pound chicken in just 45 minutes, or a 25-pound turkey in just 2 hours and 15 minutes, every time.  Just add water to the glass container, insert the attached tube into the chicken or turkey, and roast.  The patented vapor-infusion system does all the work in half the time, giving you more time to spend with your family this holiday season.

TurboRoaster is available in stores nationwide, including Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Target, CVS Pharmacy, and retails for just $19.99.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kickboxing Party

Ladies and Gentlemen:

You've heard of Tupperware parties, and you may have gone to a Lia Sophia party, but tomorrow, yours truly is going to a KICKBOXING PARTY!

My coworker is hosting a workout class -- in her apartment, as taught by a friend of hers who is a personal trainer! We'll be getting a great workout while learning kickboxing techniques.

The average 150 pound woman can burn 714 calories in an hour of kickboxing -- given that a Big Mac has 550 -- that's quite a workout.

Also, statistics show people are more likely to keep up with an exercise regiment if they workout with a buddy.

So let's all help this trend catch on -- if you have the space, think about hosting a healthy fitness party. You need not hire a personal trainer, laughing along at your friends' attempts to follow Jillian Michaels or one of the Insanity workouts will still be good for your body, and your friendships!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Great Halloween Candy Debate

Happy Halloween Foodies!

I'll be honest, I've never been big into Halloween. When I was a little girl, it was a time for class parties and candy, but as I got older, there was always this burden of finding a clever costume. Truth be told, the best part of Halloween in my adult life?

(Regular readers of this blog should not be surprised)

Anyway, I bring Halloween up in this post, because I've noticed a fair bit of controversy in regards to the candy aspect of the holiday, and I'm very curious to hear people's thoughts.

First, Self Magazine posted an article entitled, "Halloween Candy: Is It Worth It?" earlier this month. The article states that before you reach for candy, you should be aware of how hard you'll have to work to burn off the following:

  • 8 Starbursts = 160 calories (50 minutes of Pilates)
  • 3 miniature York Peppermint Patties = 150 calories (17 minutes biking at a moderate pace)
  • 19 pieces of Candy Corn = 140 calories (19 minutes playing tennis)
  • 2 Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins = 350 calories (33 minutes running at a 6 mph pace)
  • 1 caramel apple = 250-350 calories (40 minutes moderate effort on standard rowing machine)
  • 3 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Snack Size Bars = 190 calories (1 hour of moderate weight lifting)
  • 1 roll Smarties = 25 calories (6 minutes treading water)
  • 2 fun size Snickers = 160 calories (22 minutes vigorous Vinyasa Yoga)
  • 1 package Skittles (61g) = 250 calories (27 minutes of aerobic workout with 6-inch step)
Granted, the target audience of this article is specifically not the general public. That is, the majority of Self Magazine's readers are either trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, or trying to reach a healthy weight or take steps toward living a healthy lifestyle. However, does the article go too far? 

Second, a woman the media is dubbing, the "Halloween Grinch". Check out the video below:

Is this woman also going too far? Should children be allowed to enjoy the innocence and candy of Halloween, or does it embody and breed the culture of gluttony and obesity? Lay those thoughts on me!

Third, Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney appeared on Ellen DeGeneres' Halloween episode to discuss how she deals with her children's Halloween candy.

I will say this about the "Switch Witch" and I invite people to agree or disagree with me. I very much disagree with labeling foods as "bad" or "good" and I believe that Alison's approach causes her children to believe that candy is "bad". I think that certain foods are healthier than others, but I don't think anyone should start believing that any food (in moderation) is completely off limits. Feel free to post your comments below

In closing, with my resolve to live a healthy and fitness-filled lifestyle, I tend to be lukewarm about candy. I don't deny myself candy, but I also know that I'd MUCH rather have a nice pasta dinner than a few candy bars. Or, if I do want a sweet, I'd much rather have one of the gourmet bon-bons that the Manfriend and I picked up from a chocolate class we took at 2 Chicks With Chocolate yesterday.

That being said, I'm not condemning anyone who IS enjoying the fruits of Halloween. Frankly, It's one night of the year so Snickers on, good friends.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Soup

One thing I love about being on Weight Watchers -- the recipes!!! This one my meeting leader shared on her Facebook, and I'm sharing it with all of you!

Fall is pumpkin season, but before you reach for a pumpkin spiced latte (5 WW Points for a tall!) -- try this soup to warm you up.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup


  • 1 TBS canola oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt [or salt substitute]
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups reduced sodium, fat free broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated fat free milk
  • 6 TBS plain fat free Greek yogurt
To Make:
  1. In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rest of the spices, salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk in broth and pumpkin. Bring to just a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add milk and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. For thinner texture, add more broth. 
  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt.
Servings: 6
Each Serving: 104 calories, 14 g carbs, 3 g fat, 7 g protein, 3 g fiber, 3 WW Points Plus

Friday, October 11, 2013

Restaurant Review: Dos Cubanos

Hi Foodies,

I don't usually do restaurant reviews, but I wanted to make an exception and give a very very special shout-out with this post.

Dos Cubanos, in Paramus, NJ,  is the largest Cuban restaurant in Bergen County. You may have seen their recent Groupon for a bottle of wine, appetizer, and two entrees for $40.

The Manfriend and I did, and were able to celebrate a very special anniversary at Dos Cubanos, thanks to the incredible and incomparable hospitality of the manager, George.

For those unfamiliar with Cuban cuisine, Cuban fare is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean flavors. The result Most of the dishes involve sauteing ingredients or stewing them over a long period of time. Frying is not common and there are very few heavy sauces -- which make it a relatively healthy choice. Common spices include garlic, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Cuban cooking often involves a "sofrito"-- a quick saute of onion, pepper, garlic, oregano and ground pepper to infuse a base flavor into dishes. The food is not overly spicy, but intensely flavorful overall.

For an appetizer, the Manfriend and I chose Chorizo con Sofrito, a spicy Cuban sausage with sauteed peppers and onions in a fire roasted tomato sauce. I'm a big fan of chorizo, and the fire roasted tomato sauce was so delicious. We were actually fighting forks over the last bite -- right in the middle of the restaurant. The one negative would be that the appetizer didn't come with any bread to scoop up the last of the sauce.

For his entree, the Manfriend ordered Ropa Vieja, twice cooked tender shredded flank steak with Cuban Criollo sauce. I tried it, and it was unbelievably tender. My entree was Bistec a la Plancha, thinly pounded steak that had been marinated in lime and garlic. The combination of the lime and garlic truly brought out a note of freshness that I really hadn't anticipated, or tasted before in beef dishes. Truly a winner.

I recommend Dos Cubanos to all my NJ readers. The food is flavorful, the waitstaff is attentive and the decor is festive. Just make sure you make a reservation -- the place was packed, another mark of an incredible spot.

Thanks again to George for making it quite an evening!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WW Points for Beer

I just discovered this wonderful blog, The Complete Weight Watchers Point and Reference Guide (Recently rerouted to, which lists WW points plus for items that might not be in the WW system. 

As a big craft beer drinker, I'm particularly pleased to see the following chart -- which I have reposted as a reference guide. Keep in mind, unless specified, these values are for 12 oz. of beer.


WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS FOR BEER (12oz Serving Unless Otherwise Specified)

Anchor Porter4209
Anchor Steam3153
Anheuser Busch Natural Light295
Anheuser Busch Natural Ice3157
Aspen Edge294
Blatz Beer3153
Blue Moon3171
Bud Dry3130
Bud Ice3148
Bud Ice Light2110
Bud Light2110
Bud Light Lime2116
Budweiser Select299
Busch Beer3133
Busch Ice3169
Busch Light2110
Carling Black Label3138
Colt 45 Malt Liquor3174
Coors Light2104
Extra Gold Lager3152
Flying Dog Doggie Style3158
Flying Dog Dogtober Fest3146
Flying Dog Double Dog Pale Ale6292
Flying Dog Gonzo5269
Flying Dog Horn Dog6314
Flying Dog In Heat Wheat3131
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser4181
Flying Dog Old Scratch3150
Flying Dog Road Dog3158
Flying Dog Snake Dog4179
Flying Dog Tire Bite2124
Genesee Beer3148
Genesee Cream Ale3162
Genesee Ice3156
Genesee Red3148
Geaorge Killian's Irish Red3162
Guinness Draught - 1 Pint4210
Guinness Stout4176
Icehouse 5.03149
Icehouse Light2103
Hamm's Beer3144
Keystone Premium2111
Keystone Ice3142
Leinenkugel Honey Weiss3149
Leinenkugel Northwoods Lager3163
Leinenkugel Original3152
Leinenkugel Creamy Dark3170
Leinenkugel Red3166
Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat3165
Leinenkugel Light2105
Leinenkugel Amber Light2110
Lowenbrau Dark3160
Lowenbrau Special Beer3160
Magnum Malt Liquor3157
Michael Shea's3145
Michelob Amber Boch3166
Michelob Beer3155
Michelob Golden Draft3152
Michelob Golden Draft Light2110
Michelob Honey Lager4175
Michelob Light2113
Michelob Ultra295
Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor3157
Mickey's Ice3157
Miller Chill2110
Miller Genuine Draft3143
Miller Genuine Draft Light2110
Miller Genuine Draft '64'164
Miller High Life3143
Miller High Life Light2110
Miller Lite296
Miller Lite Brewers Collection Amber2110
Miller Lite Brewers Collection Blonde2110
Miller Lite Brewers Collection Wheat2110
Milwaukee's Best3128
Milwaukee's Best Light298
Milwaukee's Best Ice3144
New Belgium 15544205
New Belgium 2 Below4200
New Belgium Abbey4200
New Belgium Blue Paddle3140
New Belgium Fat Tire3160
New Belgium Mothership Wit3155
New Belgium Trippel4215
New Belgium Sunshine Wheat3145
Old Milwaukee Light2114
Old Milwaukee Beer3146
Olde English 8003160
Olde English 800 7.54202
Olde English High Gravity 8004220
Olympia Premium Lager3146
Pabst Blue Ribbon3153
Pabst Extra Light Low Alcohol167
Pete's Wicked Ale3174
Red Dog3147
Red Hook ESB4179
Red Hook IPA4188
Rolling Rock Extra Pale3142
Rolling Rock Premium Beer2120
Sam Adams Boston Lager3160
Sam Adams Boston Ale3160
Sam Adams Cherry Wheat3166
Sam Adams Cream Stout4195
Sam Adams IPA4175
Sam Adams Light2124
Sam Adams Pale Ale3145
Schaefer Beer3142
Schlitz Beer3146
Schlitz Light2110
Schlitz Malt Liquor4185
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale4190
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot7330
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale4214
Sierra Nevada Draft Ale3157
Sierra Nevada Early Spring Beer4190
Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale4215
Sierra Nevada India Pale Ale5231
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale4175
Sierra Nevada Pale Bock4218
Sierra Nevada Porter4194
Sierra Nevada Stout5225
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Beer3158
Sierra Nevada Wheat Beer3153
Signature Stroh Beer3153
Southpaw Light2123
Steel Reserve4222
Steel Reserve Triple Export4222
Steel Reserve Six3160
Stroh's Beer3149
Stroh's Light2113
Tuborg Deluxe Dark Export3163
Tuborg Export Quality3156
Winehard's Private Reserve3150
Winehard's Amber Light3135
Winehard's Hefeweizen3151
Winehard's Blonde Lager3161
Winehard's Pale Ale3147
Yuengling Ale3145
Yuengling Porter3150
Yuengling Premium Beer3135
Yuengling Light298
Yuengling Lager3135

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus & Ricotta Pasta with Red Pepper Flakes

This is a simple vegetarian meal, with -- added bonus -- just a few ingredients.


  • Bundle fresh asparagus
  • 4 oz dry pasta (any variety)
  • 1/2 cup fat free ricotta
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Red pepper Flakes
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

To Make:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Clean and prep asparagus on a sheet pan, coated with non-stick spray. Season asparagus with salt, pepper and 2 tsp olive oil. When oven is preheated, roast asparagus for 20 minutes, or until tender.
  • Cook pasta according to directions on box
  • Serve roasted asparagus on top of cooked pasta. Flake ricotta cheese onto pasta/asparagus mixture. Drizzle remaining olive oil over pasta, ricotta and asparagus. Top with red pepper flakes and serve.

Servings: 2
Per Serving: 325 calories, 50 g carbs, 8 g fat, 15 g protein, 8 WW Points Plus

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Digital Kitchen Scale -- $10 on Groupon Goods

I wanted to let everyone know that Groupon Goods is selling a digital kitchen scale for $9.99.

I have a food scale, and I absolutely believe its been instrumental in my weight loss/maintaining success. Plus, they're extremely useful for avid bakers and chefs, as well. The scale has been marked down 80% from its $48.99 list price, so this one's a steal!

According to the site:

Electronic Kitchen Scale

This touch-sensitive scale helps you portion out ingredients such as ground beef, minced herbs, or chopped plastic fruit in pounds, ounces, or grams. The tempered-glass surface accommodates up to 11 lb.—or 5 kg—and it detects weights as low as 0.35 oz. with graduations of 0.05 ounces in between. These precise measurements render on a digital display with large, easy-to-read characters. The automatic-shutoff feature helps conserve the scale's built-in lithium-ion battery.
  • Measures in pounds/ounces or kilograms/grams for European foods
  • Touch-sensitive on/off/tare and unit controls
  • Digital display with large numbers
  • 0.11" tempered-glass surface
  • Max. capacity: 11 lb. (5 kg)
  • Min. capacity: 0.35 oz.
  • Graduation: 0.05 oz. (1 gram)
  • Built-in lithium-ion battery (CR2032)
  • Low-battery and overload indicators
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Dimensions: 6.5"x1"x9"

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recipe: Lemon Broccoli Rabe

This is a great side if you are looking to switch your greens up. For those who are knew to broccoli rabe, it is more bitter than its broccoli cousin. If you aren't a fan of bitter veggies, (think mustard greens), than broccoli rabe might not be for you.


  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
  • Juice of one lemon (approx. 3 TBS)
  • Lemon zest
  • Red pepper Flakes (to taste)
To Make:
  • Heat 3/4 cup of water over medium heat until the water boils.
  • Add broccoli rabe, cover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer broccoli rabe to colander, and run under cold water to stop cooking process.
  • In a skillet over medium heat, cook red bell pepper in olive oil. Add minced garlic and olives. Continue cooking for 1 minute. Add broccoli rabe and lemon juice. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. 
  • Transfer to serving dish and garnish with red pepper flakes and lemon zest.
Serves: 4
Each Serving: 53 Calories, 3 g Carbs, 5 g Fat, 1 g Protein, 1 g Fiber
Weight Watchers Points: 2

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chopped looking for Amateur Teen Chefs

Just a quick update:

The Food Network's acclaimed competition show, "Chopped" is looking for teen amateur chefs, ages 12-16 in the NY/Northeast Area.

To enter, go to:

Chopped also routinely looks for home chefs of all ages.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Which Spices to Pair with Food

Last month, I posted an infographic from McCormick, which showed you which spices went together if you were trying to create a regional or ethnic-inspired dish.

I love that infographic quite a bit, which is why I posted it, but I do think it left out one thing -- an idea of which spices complement which foods best. For that, I found this new infographic.

Now, there are some points I disagree on -- I think that Basil can and should be used in some savory desserts, and I think basil would be wonderful in breads.... but for the most part, I think its a good guide.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lunch Complaint: Where's the Broccoli??

This is going to be a venting post.

As my readers know, I've recently joined Weight Watchers, and am following the Points Plus program. So far, it's going well, and I appreciate that Weight Watchers markets and manufactures Smart Ones microwavable meals for the days when I'm running late for work. I grab one with a side of fruit and veggies and I'm out the door.

That happened to be the scenario this morning, so I grabbed a WW Smart Ones meal: Creamy Rigatoni with Broccoli & Chicken. I really like some of the WW meals -- I recommend Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach and the Chicken Enchiladas Suiza -- but I had never tried this particular meal.

I make the meal. Easy enough, just follow the directions.

I pull back the film to stir, and notice the INSANELY wimpy portion of broccoli. Picture 6 small pieces. 

Now, I am a veggie fan. I love them, so I was disappointed that there wasn't more. But then, the more I thought about, the less those 6 broccoli pieces made sense to me.

Why, you ask?

Because broccoli, like other fruits and veggies, has a grand total of 0 WW points. ZERO. 

I can understand the limited amount of chicken in the meal, ya know, because chicken adds up at 1 point per ounce, but why is Weight Watchers skimping on a zero point veggie that the program encourages us to eat?? 

 Obviously, this will not affect my long term results on the WW program, but it did bother me enough to take to my blog to talk about it. Weight Watchers, if you're listening, I'd like more broccoli, please. 

Lessons learned here:

  • Bulking up meals with veggies and fruits will not only add more nutrients to your daily diet, but will also leave you satisfied for longer. 
Well, it looks like there's broccoli....

Maybe the rest of the broccoli is with Waldo

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jenny Craig pivots away from celebs in ads

This article was originally featured in USA Today on August 13, 2013. I have reposted because I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts. Feel free to comment below.

Jenny Craig Pivots Away From Celebs in Ads

Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
 August 13, 2013

Jenny Craig wants to zig where other weight-loss specialists zag, by cutting way back on the use of celebrity endorsers in its ads.

Quick: Which weight-loss company has featured actress Valerie Bertinelli in its ads?
Or Jennifer Hudson? Or Mariah Carey? Or, ugh, big, bad Charles Barkley?
If you're not sure, you've got plenty of company. That's one major reason why Jenny Craig, which uses Bertinelli, announced that it will feature far fewer celebs going forward and, instead, will roll out a new animated advertising campaign that comes without the big celebrity endorsement fees.
(If you're keeping score, Hudson and Barkley have starred for Weight Watchers and Carey for Jenny Craig.)
At issue: Can consumers remember which highly paid celebs hype which products? Or, even more central: Are celebrity endorsers worth all the dough? According to the folks at Ace Metrix, spokes-celebs may be doing a lot more to help their own bottom lines than the products they hype.
Overall, ads without celebrities rate slightly better with consumers than ads with celebrities, according to a recent study by Ace Metrix, a syndicated ad testing specialist. While the average Ace Metrix score of all celebrity spots in the study was 515, the average score for ads without celebs ranked slightly higher, at 529.
"Celebrities can be very polarizing," explains Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. So, if half the consumers love the celeb in a spot — and half hate the star, he says, "you're cutting off half of your potential audience."
Among the most polarizing celebs, he says: Tiger Woods, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Sarah Jessica Parker.
When clients ask Daboll whether to use a celeb in a spot, he says he offers one word of advice: don't. "A good story always works better than just slapping a celebrity in an ad."
But celebrity broker Noreen Jenny Laffey, president of Celebrity Endorsement Network, says it's not that simple — particularly with weight-loss ad campaigns. "The problem isn't the celebrity," she says, but the fact that celebs in weight-loss ads all pretty much do and say the same thing: I used this product, and I lost weight.
That's not only boring — but also confusing. "It's hard when you have competitive products using celebrities to basically say the same thing," she says. The cola and sneaker giants face these same problems, she notes. "You need to do something totally different that stands out."
Not easy. So Jenny Craig's new marketing chief, Leesa Eichberger, turned to the ad agency Havas Worldwide New York for something different. The new, animated ads will focus on the company's food and its one-on-one support. Gone: all the bright lights, celebrity spokespeople and requisite "before and after" imagery, Eichberger says.
Daboll, the numbers-crunching CEO at Ace Metrix, says it has a decent shot at working — if only because it's not just another overweight celebrity bragging about losing some tonnage. "I'd suggest it's a smart move."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vitamin Guide

I had a hard time this past winter -- for some reason, my body could not maintain its own temperature. I felt achy and cold; It wasn't a fun time.

After several doctor's appointment, it was determined that I was suffering from both an iron and vitamin D deficiency.

A lot of people don't keep track of their vitamin intake, which is important to do. Vitamins and minerals are essential for body function. While multivitamins are an option, you can also get the recommended dose of vitamins in the food you eat.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Does Weight Watchers really work?

A few months ago, I asked if any of my readers could share their experiences with Weight Watchers. I'd been plateaued with my own weight loss for several months and was thinking of switching from counting calories, to counting points.

I'm pleased to announce that I have been a member of Weight Watchers and have lost 8 pounds in 2 months.

I'd like to give my critique of the program, and why I think it's been working for me.

Instead of counting calories, people on WW count points. A point number is given to you during the registration process -- depending on your weight, height, age, and gender. I have 28 points to consume each day. In addition to your daily points limit, WW'ers are also given 49 "anytime" points each week to use for special cheats and splurges. It's also possible to earn "activity" points by exercising.

I have 28 points a day. Every food's given point value is based on its macro nutrient values -- specifically the protein to carb to fiber to fat ratio. 

As a previous calorie counter, It was a shift in thinking when I switched to counting points. I find that I care less about calories -- and more about the quality of food that I'm putting in my body. 

I do have two critiques though. First, because exercise is counted in points, I don't think you get as "much" back when you work out. For instance, 50 minutes on the elliptical could easily burn around 550 calories, right? That's the caloric equivalent of a Big Mac from McDonald's. That same intense 50 minute elliptical workout is only going to get me about 4 activity points -- which is the equivalent of just ONE of the following: 2 slices wheat bread, 4 oz chicken, 2 eggs, or a glass of wine. That being said, I never feel unsatisfied, because I do have my anytime points that I can dip into if I choose to.

The other critique is the alcohol factor. I'm a big wine drinker, so when I was counting calories, I'd make sure that I had about 300 calories left for two glasses of wine if I went out on a date or out with girlfriends. 300 calories is not that much of a sacrifice - when I was counting calories, I'd simply plan ahead and go to the gym to put in a half an hour of cardio. However, Alcohol in WW tends to be rated much higher because it lacks protein or fiber...... so a glass of wine is 4 points. 2 glasses is 8 -- that's how many I get for lunch! 

The bottom line is I really do like and support the program. I think it's easy to follow, and really forces you to say, "Do I really want that," and "Is it worth it" -- you know? I also believe the program encourages you to think of weight loss and healthy eating on both the daily and weekly platforms, because you do have to plan ahead. Also the meetings are an amazing support. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Alternative Uses for Greek Yogurt

I eat Greek yogurt with berries and a bit of honey almost every day for breakfast, as I think most people do.

But why stop there? Get creative, foodies! Greek yogurt can add a creamy protein boost to sauces, soups, marinades -- the list goes on and on.

Here's a few ideas/recipes to get you started.

  • Use Greek yogurt on your sandwich -- Skip the mayo, and spread yogurt with a touch of fresh herbs onto a BLT or Turkey on whole wheat
  • Use Greek yogurt in a tzatziki sauce-- with Greek spiced kebabs and pita
  • Combine yogurt with bold spices (paprika, black pepper, chili powder and cumin) to make a tangy marinade for meats.
  • Take advantage of Greek Yogurt's "tang" -- and use it in place of sour cream on baked potatoes and Mexican-inspired dishes
  • Try Greek Yogurt in creamy Alfredo dishes for a much healthier heavy cream substitute
  • Mix yogurt with sugar-free chocolate syrup for a guilt-free fruit dip at parties
  • Add jam and fresh fruit (and a touch of sweetener if you'd like). Serve chilled for a healthy but sweet treat
  • Add a few spoonfuls to crushed avocados, cilantro, and jalapenos for a creamier guacamole. 
  • Use Greek yogurt in place of fats during baking -- see chart below for hints and conversions

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recipe: Oven Roasted Corn

Summertime is prime corn season here in Jersey. Corn on the cob is great, but sometimes its nice to switch it all up.

I eyeball this recipe, so just use your judgement.


  • Fresh Corn on the cob
  • 1 TBS Olive oil
  • Salt Substitute
  • Lime
  • Cayenne Pepper
To Make:

  1. Cut kernels off the cob.
  2. Coat sliced-off kernels with olive oil and roast at 450 degrees -- until they start to brown, between 10-15 minutes
  3. Add salt, lime, and some cayenne pepper

Other variation: Try Chili Power, Italian Seasoning, Cumin, or anything in between. Corn is a great canvas for flavors, so go crazy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finding More Races

Well, my 5K ended up being cancelled because of thunder and lightening on Saturday night. The silver lining is I was probably pushing my body a bit too hard in my haste to reach my personal fitness goals, but it still is disappointing, because I had been looking forward to the race.

That being said, I am already signing up for more 5Ks this year. I found a great website for tracking down upcoming races in New Jersey and around the country:

I'll keep you updated on my progress. Happy Running!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Making Smarter Snack Choices

Just some food for thought today:

As kids, we always want they bigger piece of cookie or pizza, perhaps because we're greedy as hell, but perhaps because we think the larger amount of food will keep us full longer.

Shouldn't this same concept be true when we're picking healthy snack options? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

5K Running Tips -- AKA: How a naked Ryan Gosling will help me finish this damn thing

I'm running my second 5K on July 20, so I've spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks building up my endurance and stamina. I started (just like I did for my last race) with the Couch to 5K running program, which I do recommend for beginners. The problem I have found is that I get bored of the podcast's music choices, and prefer listening to my own tunes while pounding pavement.

In the spirit of things, I thought it might be fun to include some 5K running tips in case any of you were also training for an upcoming race.

  1. Register: It sounds simple, but by paying the entry fee, you are more likely to mentally to commit to your training regiment.
  2. Practice: Waking up on the race day intending to run will only result in injury. You should be running three times a week for 3 months beforehand, gradually building up distance, to prepare.
  3. Train with Intervals: Running 3.1 miles in one go can be intimidating for new runners. I really do recommend training with the Couch to 5K running program, which will gradually train your body to run using walk/running intervals. For instance, your first week, the program coaches you through a warm up walk, then 60 seconds of running, followed by 90 seconds walking, for a total of 90 minutes. By week 4, your body is fit enough and has the stamina to run for 5 and 3 minute intervals with intermittent walking. 
  4. Eat Smart: This one is two fold. First of all, make sure you eat a light meal a few hours before the race. Secondly, training for a 5K is not an appropriate time to go on Atkins. Carbohydrates are a natural energy source and your body needs them while training. Stick to whole grains, though.
  5. Stretch: Your muscles will get tight if you do not stretch after runs -- focus on gluts, quads, calves, 
  6. Breathe: When your muscles start hurting, focus on your breathing. Concentrate on breathing in through your nose, holding that breath for a few steps, and then slowly letting in out through your mouth. 
  7. Switch your focus: As different muscle groups start to ache, I find that concentrating on my breathing, or the natural swing of my arms as I run, gives a bit of a mental reprieve from my tired leg muscles. 
  8. Stay Positive: First and foremost, remind yourself that you have done the training, and you have what it takes to run the 3.1 miles. If the going gets tough, don't be afraid to talk to yourself. Thinking a mantra along with each footfall -- "I've got this" or "Just keep swimming" will bring you closer to the finish line. 
  9. Wear the Right Gear: You should outfit yourself in things you've worn while training, that you KNOW you're comfortable running in. Also, race days are NOT the time to break in new shoes.
  10. Give Yourself some Mental Motivation: My friends have been super supportive all throughout my training. One said to pretend that I am an antelope running in this 5K, and a hungry lion is chasing me. Another friend told me to pretend that Ryan Gosling was waiting naked at the finish with a cold beer and nachos. I'm not saying which I'll be thinking of.... but damn, do I love me some nachos. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

McCormick Spice Guide

Hi Foodies!

I don't know about you, but when I'm cooking, I don't always know what spices will mesh well with the direction I'd like to take with my entree. For instance, I'd love to not be so reliant on packet spice mixes (which are INSANELY high in sodium) when I make chili -- but what loose spices are inherently Tex-Mex? When and to what would I add sage? And if I want to make an Asian inspired dish, can I get away with using red-pepper flakes, or are they mainly for Italian-inspired cuisine.

Luckily for us, McCormick has created this delightful little infographic that you and I can now consult for all of our spice pallet dilemmas.

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

9 Utterly Ridiculous "Convenient Foods", and 9 Ideas that Actually Make Sense

I was scanning my Pinterest (sgoldman328 if people want to follow me), and I noticed a pin entitled, "Too Busy To Eat Healthy? 9 Foods To Keep In Your Kitchen" with a lovely picture of an avocado.

I'm certainly a busy person, and avocados are certainly healthy. I was intrigued.

The pin takes me to a slide show at MindBodyGreen, compiled by Rebecca Leffler. Rebecca, an American journalist based in Paris, recommends the following 9 foods:

  1. Avocados
  2. Quinoa
  3. Hemp Seeds
  4. Chia Seeds
  5. Spirulina 
  6. Nori
  7. Red Lentils
  8. Pâté
  9. "Liquid Love" 
Now, no offense to dear Rebecca.... but in what world are pâté, nori and spirulina (a blue-green powdered algae) considered foods convenient for a busy lifestyle?!? Perhaps they are the Parisian version of convenient.  

I do agree with some of Rebecca's picks -- So, I have compiled a list which makes much more sense.

I present:

9 Foods and tips that are ACTUALLY convenient for busy lifestyles:

1. Avocados

Avocados are super healthy, versatile  and contain healthy fats.  Eat half on a salad, and save the rest for the next day. Avocados are also really yummy when mixed with cucumbers, feta OR goat cheese, and a bit of lemon juice. They also keep for a few days. I toss one whole avocado in my lunch box for work with some foil to wrap the remaining half in, and I'm set for the next two days if I pack fresh salad greens.

2. Big size tubs of Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a MUST, and if you're like me, you have one a day, so those little dinky cups aren't worth it. Buy the big size to save money and measure out a portion the night before.

3. Family Size Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
These packs usually come with 5-7 breasts. Cook on Sunday and you're set for lunches and easy dinners for the week. Chicken Breasts are incredibly lean and packed with protein.

4. Quinoa

 Rebecca was right, Quinoa is SUPER healthy. It's gluten-free, packed with protein, and cooks fairly quickly. Make a big batch on Sundays to keep for the week as a quick go-to for meals in a hurry.

5. Eggs (Hard Boiled)
For a few cents extra, I buy my eggs already hard boiled to throw on salads during the week. I've actually gotten into the habit of putting one hard boiled egg, and two extra hard boiled whites on a salad for a weekday lunch. Just be careful of your consumption of yolks if you have high cholesterol.

6. Raw Almonds
Like Avocados, raw almonds are a good source of healthy fats, and they're high in protein, too. Store a bag in your desk drawer for a quick afternoon boost. An ounce of raw almonds (That's 28 nuts) has 160 calories, 6 g carbs, 14 g fat, and 6 g protein.

7. String Cheese

What can I say, they're portable, a quick snack, and each packs a protein punch of 6 g! Just make sure you go for the low moisture part skim variety.

8. Instant Oatmeal 

I typically keep a box of instant oatmeal in my office desk for a quick pick me up, or if I was running too late to pack a breakfast. Stick with the original flavor to avoid added sugar and you'll get 100 calories, 22g carbs, fiber and protein.

9. Apples/Pears

Frankly, I was surprised that these didn't make it on Rebecca's list. Apples and Pears are insanely portable -- they're completely healthy and a perfect grab and go.