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Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon

Category : Healthy Eating

by Karin Jennings
I recently read a very interesting article about the nutritional benefits of watermelon. I have always been a fan of this fabulous fruit because it’s refreshing and sweet, but I learned there are even more reasons to enjoy watermelon!

Why eat watermelon?

  • First of all, it’s a great source of vitamin C, Vitamin A and potassium.
  • Secondly, it will help you stay hydrated because it is 92% water.
  • Also it contains citrulline and lycopene, according to Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a professor of horticulture in the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University. (She has been studying watermelon nutrients for 15 years!!)

How does citrulline benefit your body?

I hadn’t heard of this non-essential amino acid prior reading about it last week, but here’s what found out: It is involved in producing nitric oxide which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure which benefits the both the brain and heart. It also helps to flush the kidneys.

How does lycopene benefit your body?

The tomato industry has been touting the benefits of lycopene for a while now (I see it on every bottle of ketchup), but it turns out that lycopene is more abundant and easily absorbed from watermelon than from tomatoes. (That’s good…I like watermelon better!) Lycopene reduces plaque build up in arteries and helps prevent prostate cancer.

For those of you who prefer lists…watermelons will improve the following:

  • muscle pain after workouts
  • blood pressure
  • plaque build up in arteries
  • inflammation of the prostate
  • erectile dysfunction
  • menopause symptoms
  • acid reflux

Watermelon is a very healthy snack…here’s the nutritional information:

Two cups of watermelon contains:

  • 80 calories
  • 21 grams of carbohydrates (mostly sugars)
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of protein

What about all the sugar?

Don’t worry, according to Perkins-Veazie there is an enzyme present in watermelon which regulates the glucose. It is much healthier than any pre-packaged, processed snack you can buy off the shelf!

Go ahead, enjoy your watermelon!!


Comments Off on St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup -Low Fat version

St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup -Low Fat version

Category : Healthy Eating


St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup

We really enjoyed St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup and they shared their recipe with us!  This is truly one of those comfort foods that cold fall weather seems to trigger, and boy, was it ever good when we made it this week!  We’ve been tweaking it ever since we got it because the original recipe calls for 2 cups of heavy cream.  While that’s OK for the occasional celebration meal, we felt we should try to create a low fat version that we could enjoy guilt-free a couple times a month. We succeeded!
Awhile back, one of our clients (Thanks RuthAnn!) shared with us the mind-blowing book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us”.  In it, the author Michael Moss show us that there is an ideal amount of sugar (called the bliss point) that can be added to food; too little is no good and too much is a waste.  The same is true for salt, finding as we come accustomed to salt the more we prefer but that too little salt can take a once savory food to being nearly inedible.  The clincher is when it comes to fat.  For fat, there is no optimal level at which too much fat is less desirable.  More is always better and researchers determined that if there is a bliss point for fat it is somewhere beyond heavy whipping cream!  They also found that people could not discern the amount of fat in a food, often wildly underestimating how much fat was in it.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Back to St. Brendan’s magnificent soup.  Was this a case of unnecessary extravagance?  You be the judge!  Here is the XO’d version of St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup.
2T Olive Oil
1T Butter
2 lb Carrots peeled and diced
2 whole Leeks diced, then washed well (originally Whites only diced)
6 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
Sauteed Leeks
Sauteed Leeks
2 lbs Sweet Potatoes, halved and roasted (see note)
4 cups Vegetable Stock (originally Chicken stock)
1 can evaporated milk (24g fat) or 2 Cups fat free half & half (zero g fat) (originally 2 cups Heavy  whipping cream, 176 grams fat!)
2 T sugar (We omitted this altogether as unnecessary with the carrots and sweet potatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Per the original recipe: Parboil sweet potatoes and then oven roast at 350 on a cookie sheet using parchment paper until brown.  (I have skipped this step altogether and boiled everything until soft, but I have to admit the BEST version was when Karin followed these directions to the letter AND we use the evaporated milk…  Will have to try again skipping this step and using evaporated milk to see if this step is worth the extra effort.)
Heat oil and butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, leeks, garlic and sweet potatoes. Saute until the leeks are translucent, about eight minutes, Add stock and evaporated milk or half & half.  Cover and simmer about thirty minutes. Stir occasionally. 
Either puree the soup in batches in a blender or simply carefully use an immersion blender (best tool ever) to puree soup.  Enjoy!
Made with Fat Free half and half, this recipe is about 122 calories per cup.  Made with evaporated milk 135 calories.  Made with heavy cream, 211 calories per cup.  You decide which is richer, I can’t tell a difference!

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Low-Carb Garlic Lime Chicken

Category : Healthy Eating

Trying to lose weight?

We invite you to check out one of our Smart Loss Seminars to learn all about Carb-Cycling! The basic idea is that you alternate between high-carb days and low-carb days in order to rev up your metabolism. You will get a link to some great software which will help you plan your meals and incorporates recipes like the one below!

Low-Carb Garlic Lime Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 pieces chicken breast halves, boneless skinless (4-6 ounces each…about the size of your palm!)
  • 1 tablespoons lime juice
  • 8 stalks asparagus
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Pinch paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Pinch cayenne pepper


2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4-6 oz each) 
2 teaspoons butter 
2 teaspoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth 
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
Pinch of paprika 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
1/4 teaspoon thyme

8 stalks asparagus, steamed (as always, veggies are unlimited!) 

Mix seasonings together in large zip-top bag. Add chicken breasts to the bag, seal and gently massage around until all chicken is well coated with seasoning. 
Heat pan over medium heat; add butter and olive oil to pan. 
Once butter is melted, add chicken and cook on both sides until done. Remove from pan and keep warm by lightly covering with foil. 
To skillet, add lime juice and broth. Using a whisk, mix liquids to get browned bits off pan bottom and sides. Continue cooking until sauce has slightly thickened. 
Add chicken back to the pan, coating with the sauce. Serve with a side of asparagus.

If it’s a High Carb Day for you or you have family members who are NOT eating low carb: Serve over steamed brown rice (remember a serving is the size of your fist).

Comments Off on XO Friday Foodie: Quinoa & Spinach Pilaf

XO Friday Foodie: Quinoa & Spinach Pilaf

Category : Healthy Eating

This is a great side dish featuring quinoa, one of the many Smart Carbs listed on the Vemma Bod-e Trainer Smart Food Guide. Those of you following the Carb-Cycling plan will want to make this on a high carb day. Remember the serving size for a Smart Carb is about the size of your fist. If you are interested in finding out more about carb-cycling please ask us, or register for a Smart Loss Seminar.

This recipe is from Everyday FOOD (thanks, Martha)

Quinoa & Spinach Pilaf

One serving of quinoa (about the size of your fist)

1 T olive oil

1 finely chopped small yellow onion

1 minced clove garlic (or more)

1 cup uncooked quinoa

5 cups baby spinach

1 T lemon zest

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Add chopped onion and minced garlic; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Saute one cup of rinsed, but not cooked quinoa in pan for about one minute. Add 1 1/4 cups water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach and lemon zest, then season with salt and pepper. Serves 4

Pretty easy…totally ready in 30 minutes. Serve with your choice of lean protein approximately the size and thickness of your palm!

Comments Off on XO Friday Foodie: Super Simple Salmon Patties (Low Carb, Gluten Free)

XO Friday Foodie: Super Simple Salmon Patties (Low Carb, Gluten Free)

Category : Healthy Eating

Sometimes it’s nice to simplify something already simple.  Too many ingredients and preparation equals a big mess.  With many of our clients trying out our Smart Loss Seminars and learning how to cycle their carbohydrates to break weight loss plateaus, we decided that it was time to simplify our already simple Salmon Patties.   

Low Carb Salmon Pattie
1 pouch (5oz) of Salmon   (See the original recipe
Salmon Pattie with Roasted Cauliflower

Salmon Pattie

if you want to use a larger, less expensive can of salmon)
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 pinch of black pepper 
Drain any juice out of the pouch of Salmon and place into the bowl with the egg and all spices.  Mix up with a fork until you have a mixture that is Pattie-worthy.
Form into a pattie about the size of your hand.   Some will be able to form into patties and arrange onto a pre-heated, canola or olive oil sprayed pan.  Brown on both sides. 
The photo shows our favorite way to make Cauliflower: Roasted! (posted back in March 2012) Easy smeezy.  Slice a rinsed head of Cauliflower and slice it into 3/4″ slices.  It will crumble up a bit, but who cares?  Arrange the slices and pieces of cauliflower onto a cooking sprayed jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with low lip) and season with your favorite seasonings.  We like to flavor with Celery Salt and Pepper but you can season it with darn near everything.  All you do then is pop it in the oven at 375′ and cook until a bit browned.  Serve and be praised!  

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Friday Foodie: Eggplant Palooza

Category : Healthy Eating

Our neighbor had a few extra eggplants that they had grown and I happily took them.  I thought I’d make one of my favorite

Eggplants arranged with Daisies

Small Eggplants

eggplant recipes, baba ghanouj (pronounced ga-new), but one of my clients always talks about how good his eggplant Parmesan is, so I made that instead.  The eggplant is baked instead of fried, but it is still breaded which admittedly reduces its diet-worthiness. (My recipe for grill-cooked baba ghanouj is at the bottom of this post).

Eggplant Parmesan  (Adapted from a Meatless Monday recipe)
-1 large eggplant or up to 3 smallish ones (which is what I had)
– 1 cup flour
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup milk
-2 cups italian bread crumbs (or more)
-2 cups of your favorite marinara type spaghetti or pizza sauce
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (optional, omit for lower fat/calorie version)
Breaded and Baked Eggplant

Breaded and Baked Eggplant

My client Jim E. says the secret to his Eggplant Parmesan is to remove as much water from the eggplant as possible ahead of time.  He does this by slicing the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick discs, lightly salting them and placing them in a single layer between two kitchen towels for at least 30 minutes.  

Preheat your oven to 400′ and cooking spray two cookie sheets (or ‘grease’ with olive oil). 

Next, put the flour in a bowl and dredge each slice of eggplant until they are coated and set eggplant aside.   Add the Italian bread

crumbs to remaining flour (or dump out the flour, your choice).  Scramble the two eggs and milk together in a bowl.  Dunk a slice of eggplant into the milk and egg mixture and then dredge to coat in the bread crumbs.  Arrange breaded eggplant onto your prepared cookie sheets.  Repeat until all the eggplant is coated, or your hands

Completed Eggplant Parmasan

Eggplant Parmesan

get so disgusting that you decide to throw it all out and go out for dinner (only to remember you left the oven on ;-).

Put the eggplant in the oven for 10 minutes.  Pull it out, flip the eggplant slices and bake again for 10 minutes.  Remove the eggplant from the oven and TURN THE OVEN DOWN to 350′.

Next, put the browned eggplant into a greased 9×13 pan, layer in an overlapped fashion as needed to fit it all in.  Pour the two cups of marinara sauce on top and then sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove your eggplant from the oven and remove the aluminum foil.  (You can add the mozzarella now if desired).   Put it back in the oven and bake uncovered about 10 – 15 minutes until the cheese looks bubbly or slightly browned.  We recommend serving with extra marinara sauce and a gorgeous salad.

Baba Ghanouj (A delicious eggplant dip)
-1 large eggplant
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 Tablespoon lemon juice or juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or coriander(optional)
-2 Tablespoons Tahini (optional, none for low fat, or up to 4T to taste)
-1 Tablespoon Olive oil (also optional for low fat version)

Roast the eggplant until mushy soft.  You can do this several ways and here is a link to a great photo series.  Method one: On the grill, prick the eggplant and wrap in aluminum foil and bake on low heat, rotating 1/4 turn every 8-10 minutes until very soft.  Method two: prick and wrap in aluminum foil as before but bake at 350′ in oven for 45-60 minutes until very soft (use a pan or cookie sheet to catch drips).  Method three: Slice eggplant in half and place face down in greased pan  and put under broiler for 15-30 minutes  until charred and very soft.  Method four: Prick eggplant and place on a couple paper towels or in bowl and microwave on high until it deflates 8-15 minutes depending on size (This last method loses that tasty smokey flavor, but it is the quickest.)

 When cool enough to handle, scoop out the soft insides and put into blender with any captured juices and all other ingredients.  Blend until smooth and enjoy with fresh vegetables or on a sandwich.  Try to avoid using every bread and cracker in the house to scoop it up or you’ll blow this otherwise healthy food!  Enjoy, -XO

Comments Off on Friday Foodie: Edamame Falafel w/low fat cumin chipotle sauce

Friday Foodie: Edamame Falafel w/low fat cumin chipotle sauce

Category : Healthy Eating

I found this recipe in the May 2012 edition of Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food” magazine.  It looked simple and absolutely

Edamame Falafel patties

Edamame Falafel Patties

delicious at first glance, but the calorie count was way too impressive:  a serving had a whopping 600 calories.  Falafel is traditionally fried and in my opinion, despite dripping in oil, usually tastes dry anyway.  Here is my variation that drops the calories to only 240 per serving by baking them instead of deep frying them and serves them with my new favorite low calorie sauces.

1 cup dry chickpeas (2 cups re-hydrated)
2 cups shelled edamame, frozen.
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Method:  Put the chickpeas in water and leave overnight.  They should double in volume, leaving you with 2 cups uncooked chickpeas.  To hurry this process up, you can boil the chickpeas in the microwave and allow to sit for 2-4 hours.  Drain.
Use a food processor or a blender to mince chickpeas and edamame to a coarse mixture that sticks together when squeezed.
Falafel ready to form into balls or patties

Falafel mixture & sauces

 Thoroughly mix or blend in cumin and salt.
Form in to patties and place on a greased cookie sheet.  I like to use an ice-cream scoop for this.  Pop in the oven at 375′ until bottom side is browned, flip, and brown the other side. 
Serve in whole wheat pita pockets (or whole wheat tortillas) with diced tomatoes, onions and your choice of the following sauces:
Chipotle-Cumin ‘Greek God’ dressing: (6oz plain, nonfat greek yogurt with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground chipotle blended together). This ‘sauce’ has no fat, 18 grams of protein and only 100 calories PER CUP!!!  or 7 calories per Tablespoon.  Compare that to cumin-chipotle mayonaise which weighs in with 12g fat and 110 calories per Tablespoon (or 192 grams fat and roughly 1760 calories per cup).  
Coriander Tatziki (speedy version):  Peel and cut a cucumber in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and toss into a blender with a 6 oz container of plain, nonfat greek yogurt.  Add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Blend well.  Options:  Blend in fresh dill or add 1 teaspoon of garlic-ginger paste (available at Indian grocery stores).
Another healthy sauce is to add a bit of water to store-bought hummus and to use as a dip.  This is really a good idea if you think about all the flavors now available.

Comments Off on Friday Foodie: Crunchy Chickpeas Snack

Friday Foodie: Crunchy Chickpeas Snack

Category : Healthy Eating

One of our clients suggested that we try this super simple savory snack.  Low in fat and high in fiber these are a nicely satisfying snack that ranks high in the nutrition world.

A bowl of crunchy chickpeas

Crunchy Chickpeas

 Each 1/4 cup of crunchy goodness has 120 calories comprised of 2g fat, 6g protein, 20g carbs (including 6g of fiber: that’s a whopping 24% of the recommended daily allowance of fiber).  Omit the salt and use chickpeas made from dry if you are concerned about your sodium intake.

Crunchy Chickpeas (makes 1 3/4 cups):
  • 2 cans (3 1/2 cups cooked) Chickpeas
  • A whimsical mixture of your favorite spices (see suggestions)
  • popcorn salt (for after cooking)
Method: Drain and rinse chickpeas, then pour onto a dish towel and pat dry.  Place into a largish bowl and sprinkle with spice mixture, then stir well.  Pour chickpeas onto a non-stick  jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with low sides) and pop in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Bake until mostly crunchy and allow to cool.  Use popcorn salt to adjust saltiness if needed.  Although not required by most recipes I reviewed, I would suggest refrigerating them if you aren’t going to eat them within a few days.
I successfully made these on our grill with both burners on their lowest setting so I wouldn’t heat up the house.  I used  a spatula to stir them every 5-10 minutes as the grill
Chickpeas being roasted on the grill instead of the oven.

A grill is your summer oven!

doesn’t cook quite as evenly as an oven.  (Some “extra crispy” chickpeas happened anyway.)
Spice suggestions for your signature super simple savory subtly spicy snack*:
  • 1/2 teaspoon of: cumin & 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each coriander and paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon curry, either hot or sweet
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of any premixed seasoning blend, ie: Nature’s seasoning, Pleasonings, Lawry’s etc…
  • Note: Do not use spice mixtures containing sugar as it will burn. 

*Now say “signature super simple savory subtly spicy snack” five times fast!   Enjoy -XO

Comments Off on Friday Friday Foodie: Avocado Salsa

Friday Friday Foodie: Avocado Salsa

Category : Healthy Eating

This week’s Friday Foodie is Nicole C. who suggested this most delicious salsa from one of my favorite food websites:

salsa ingredients

Salsa ingredients   If you haven’t checked epicurious out, you can type in a main ingredient and come up with a list of recipes that incorporate your searched ingredient along with excellent reviews and ratings.  It is an un-abashedly flavor first, damn the calories website, so it is wise to be calorie wary when surfing their delicious recipes.

Simple and delicious, the original recipe adds more olive oil than we would without sacrificing flavor.  That said, we’ve tweaked the recipe with 1/2 the olive oil (subtract roughly 200 calories) and we strongly suspect that 1/4 the olive oil (1T) would be un-noticeable.  Here’s our take:

Avocado Salsa:

  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    Not your typical pico!

    Avocado Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (try 1 tablespoon, it’s probably plenty and you can always add more)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 to 2 large jalapeño chilies, seeded but not deveined, minced
  • 1 large avocado, diced

Mix well and serve!  Enjoy with friends to savor the fresh wonder of this simple recipe.  -XO

Comments Off on Friday Foodie: Grilled Swai & Cauliflower

Friday Foodie: Grilled Swai & Cauliflower

Category : Healthy Eating

It’s time to pull out the grill when it’s over 90’F outside with 100% humidity(and the air Baking on the Grill instead of in the Ovenconditioner seems to be running non-stop just to keep the house below 80!). 

This week our Friday Foodie’s are Karin and her father Paul.  Karin for her cauliflower recipe recently posted here, and Paul for his seasoning recipe that he found for Spicy Grilled Fish.  His recipe calls for Red Snapper or Orange Roughy Fillets, but I found something in the Fish Freezer called Swai.  So I bought it, brought it home, and then looked up online what the heck it was and how to cook it.

According to Wikipedia, Swai is actually an omnivorous freshwater fish found in Thailand’s  Swai FilletsMekong River.  It is really an “Iridescent Shark Catfish” but apparently due to international concerns regarding shark products, it was renamed Swai.  That said, Swai is a mild white fish that has a soft texture and could easily be blackened like Catfish.  I used Paul’s seasoning blend sparingly (although I love it hot!

Paul’s Spicy Fish Seasoning Blend:

2t Paprika
1t salt
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1/4-1/2 t cayenne powderAluminum Foil used for Grilling fish
1/8-1/4 t white pepper
1/4 t each of dried oregano, basil & thyme.
Method:  Defrost and pat excess water off of fish fillets.  Rub the fillets with olive oil and then sprinkle both sides with the seasoning blend.  (Go light for those who don’t like it hot!)  Spray the Grill with cooking spray BEFORE lighting it.  Grill fillets, covered, for 3-4 minutes per side or until fish flakes with a fork.

Now, that’s what I was told to do.  What I actually did was make an aluminum foil packet and Swai cooked on grill in foil packetcooked it in that instead.  Because the kids are highly spice sensitive, I actually used very little of the seasoning blend and dotted the fillets with butter.  The result was almost too tender.  I think I’ll blacken the Swai next time I grill it and place it directly on the grill.  -Ryan.