Comments Off on XO Foodie: Curry Pumpkin Hummus

XO Foodie: Curry Pumpkin Hummus

Category : Healthy Eating

Lori & Eben shared this Curry Pumpkin Hummus recipe with us. It was delicious! Eben says he rarely follows a recipe, but (mostly) followed this one: Ingredients 1 T extra virgin olive oil 2 Cloves garlic, minced 1 T curry powder 1.5 T honey 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed 1 can (15 oz) unsweetened Pumpkin Puree 1.5 t finely minced fresh ginger 1.5 t koser or sea salt In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add curry and saute for 1 additional minute. Stir in honey and remove from heat. In a food processor, chop garbanzos until they are finely mashed.  Add pumpkin, ginger, salt and garlic mixture. Process until hummus is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside for a least 1 hour. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds if desired. Sorry, no pictures…we ate it all up before I thought of that!!

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!

Comments Off on Food Sensitivity Elimination diet: Nightshade Ratatouille

Food Sensitivity Elimination diet: Nightshade Ratatouille

Category : Healthy Eating

This is my mini-chronicle of following the Dr. Oz and Dr. Hyman Food Sensitivity Elimination diet.  The beginning of this series and the links to the elimination diet can be found in this link: Click Here.

OK, my evil plan was a success and I was able to eat my brother-in-law’s incredible marinara and amazing ratatouille at my Mom’s birthday. Let me rephrase that; In pursuit of the scientific study of my diet, I risked fatigue and potentially worse by adding nightshades back into my diet.  And I loved every minute of it and my only reaction was Yum!

So it turns out that Ratatouille is the perfect dish for testing out nightshade sensitivity.   This is because the two main ingredients are eggplant and tomatoes, two of the primary members of the nightshades.  Other nightshades include red peppers (both hot and sweet), the spices paprika and cayenne, and potatoes.  I don’t eat these every day, so I wasn’t expecting trouble.

I’ve never had ratatouille before and I have to say it was absolutely delicious.  Of course, my brother-in-law is an amazing chef, so that is a large part of why it was so good.  He said that he grilled all the vegetables first to give it that bit of smokiness, but otherwise followed a basic ratatouille recipe.

I found a highly rated recipe from, the bon apetit recipe website, that I will be trying.  Epicurious Ratatouille, Click Here.  It’s a great way to get those vegetable servings that Karin has been promoting during March nutrition month.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Category : Healthy Eating

We declared Barb B. the princess of our pumpkin party for recommending this delicious and satisfying soup that turns out to be a celebrity weight loss secret.  Because this simple recipe makes a large quantity of soup, you can freeze servings to curb cravings anytime you need some comfort food without blowing your diet.  Our version differs from the original by using low fat coconut milk to maintain that guilty richness.

Butternut Squash Soup
In a large pot, saute until translucent:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2T olive oil
Then add, bring to a boil and simmer 25-30 minutes until easy to pierce with a fork :
4 cups vegetable broth (canned or made from bullion)
1 large (2lb+) butternut squash, peeled and cubed in 1″ pieces
1 medium potato: any kind, cubed
2 large carrots, diced or sliced into 1/4 rounds
Remove from heat and add:
1 can low fat coconut milk
Next, puree  in batches using a regular or handheld immersion blender.  Then adjust the seasoning to your taste with salt & pepper, maybe even a dash of any one of the following: curry powder, garam masala, cinnamon or nutmeg.
110 calories per 1 cup servings (a bowl is likely a 2 cup serving)
4g fat, 16g carbohydrates,2g protein, 1g fiber, 340mg sodium


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: Blackened Fish Tacos

Category : Healthy Eating

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

Our client Anne M recommended these and they are delicious AND easy.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light’s March 2011 issue.  As advertised, when you add the optional sauce, they taste like something right off the food truck!  Gluten free too.
Optional Jalapeno sauce
Puree together:
    1/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt (or reduced fat Sour Cream)
    2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Cilantro
    2 Tablespoons fresh Lime Juice
    1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
Then add but do not blend:
Jalapeno Sauce
Jalapeno-Onion Sauce
     1 cup thinly sliced White Onion
 Blackening Spice
Mix together:
    1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
    1 1/2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
    1 teaspoon dry Oregano
    3/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
    1/2 teaspoon Salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
    1/4 teaspoon ground Red Pepper (cayenne or chipotle)  (I used 1/8 teaspoon so I wouldn’t freak out the kids)
Note:  You could make double or triple and store the extra in a shaker to make this recipe faster
Blacken that Fish!
Spice mixture
Sprinkle the Blackening Spice to evenly coat:
     1 lb to 1 1/2lbs of Tilapia (defrosted and patted dry with a paper towel)
Next, Heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil on medium -high heat in a frying pan.   Cook the fish for about 3 minutes per side.  Fish should flake when done.
Serve immediately with:
Preheated Corn Tortillas
Lime Wedges
Avocado (thinly sliced)
Jalepeno sauce (optional)

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: 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta

Friday Foodie: 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta

Category : Healthy Eating

Two things attracted us to this recipe:

  1. 15 minutes…we love any dinner item that takes only 15 minutes!
  2. Avocado…we love avocado (although it’s really hard to spell!)

We want to give credit where credit is due, so the source of this recipe is

Bowtie pasta with creamy avocado sauce

Bowtie pasta with creamy avocado sauce


  • 1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish (use caution, it is easy to make this too tart)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, to taste (we used 3 b/c we love garlic, but if you’re not a big fan use less)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • ~1/4 cup Fresh Basil
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (We like Barilla brand pasta in the yellow box)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice (be careful with the lemon juice…you can always add more, but you can’t take it out…the first time we made this it was WAY TOO TART), and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Ryan says next time he would omit the olive oil and just blend up the other sauce ingredients.

3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Please note: This dish does not reheat well due to the avocado in the sauce. Please serve immediately.


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 Foodie: Simple Basil Pesto

Friday Foodie: Simple Basil Pesto

Category : Healthy Eating

Keep it simple, right?

This pesto is kept simple with fancy additions later. 

All you need is two large bunches of basil, 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, ½ – ¾ cup olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. You can add parmesan and pine nuts later if you like.

Basil from Farmers Market

Fresh basil is best purchased at the farmer’s market for a fraction of store bought. Karin purchased a plastic shopping nearly full of basil for just $4 (four large bunches).

You only need two bunches for this recipe.

Remove the flowering heads, leaves from the stems and wash the leaves to remove any sand and dirt.

Pat them dry with a towel and coarsely chop them.



Garlic and oil in blender


Pour ½ cup Olive Oil and 2-3 cloves of garlic into a blender and blend well with the cover on (unless you like oil on your ceiling). Add the coarsely chopped basil in bunches, alternately stopping the blender to push the basil down. Patiently continue to do this, adding more olive oil as needed to allow blending.

 Once you have a thick, but coarse paste add ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt to taste. That’s it!!! We like to freeze it in small 4 oz. Glad containers. You can add minced pine nuts (walnuts or raw skinless peanuts also work well) and parmesan cheese to taste when you serve it.

What can you do with pesto?

PestoThere are many uses for pesto, and all of them are delicious. Pesto can be frozen into small plastic containers or even ice-cube trays for handy single serving size cubes.

Make a speedy-quick version of a Caprese Salad: Mix several tablespoons of pesto, halved grape or cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum!

Also, it’s great mixed with pasta and fresh tomatoes, on toasted french bread and pizza!