Suzanne Hollander, MS, RD

As a dietitian, home cook, and enthusiast of all-things-delicious, I'm often asked, "so what do YOU eat?" Here's a blog to answer that very question! My hope is that you'll find (even just a little) inspiration from some of my favorite recipes, restaurants, party-ideas and food musings for your own happy, healthy, food-loving lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mushroom Soup

Hearty dishes without a lot of added fat and calories are crucial to staying healthy during the holiday season. This Mushroom Soup skips the cream and butter found in many versions, making an excellent appetizer or light meal alongside a whole grain roll and salad. Using a variety of seasonal mushrooms (mushrooms are at their peak season in fall and winter), gives the soup a lot of flavor without extra fat.

The Nutrition Rundown: Mushrooms are a rare food source of vitamin D, important for our bodies especially in winter months since our body can only make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. This soup is also naturally low in fat and calories and tasty enough to satisfy that craving for something warm!

Mushroom Soup
Serves 6 appetizer portions
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (a variety like crimini, oyster, shitake tastes delicious!)
2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium, if available)
1 bay leaf
2 parmesan cheese rinds (optional)

  1. In large, heavy saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook ~1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, ~5 more minutes, until mushrooms and shallot are soft.
  2. Add vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer. Add bay leaf and cheese rinds if using. Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced by ~1/4.
  3.  Turn off heat and remove bay leaf and cheese rinds. Using immersion blender, puree soup. (If you do not have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool completely and puree in blender, in small batches).
  4.  Serve immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator up to 4 days. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin Yogurt Dip

As you head into the holidays, whip up healthy snacks with seasonal flavors, like Pumpkin Yogurt Dip. This is a delicious snack for kids or adults, and it satisfies a sweet craving without the overindulgence that is all-too-common during the holidays. The quick recipe below allows you to make as much as you need to serve just yourself or a whole group, so just add some sliced apples (or other seasonal fruit) and enjoy!

The Nutrition Rundown: Protein from Greek yogurt and fiber from pumpkin and apples will keep you full until your next meal.

Pumpkin Yogurt Dip
1 part plain Greek yogurt
1 part pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
Cinnamon, to taste
Ground cloves, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
Drizzle of honey
Granny Smith apples, sliced

Whisk together yogurt, pumpkin, and spices.  Serve immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Drizzle honey over the top and slice apples just before serving. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spiced Sunchoke and Root Vegetable Oven Chips

Autumn and winter are a great time to experiment in the kitchen with root vegetables. These Oven Chips are spicy, satisfying, and savory. They make a perfect football or holiday party appetizer or can be served as a hearty side dish. I used sunchokes, turnips, and parsnips, but go wild and substitute any root vegetables you like!

The Nutrition Rundown: In addition to having way more flavor than the usual store-bought potato chip, these Oven Chips also have 5 times the fiber to keep you fuller longer as well as more of the antioxidant vitamins A and C.
Spiced Sunchoke and Root Vegetable Oven Chips
with Cool Cilantro Dipping Sauce
Serves 6

~8-10 Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes)
2 large parsnips
1 large turnip
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs ground coriander
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp crushed black pepper

For sauce
¼ cup sour cream
2 Tbs mayo
3 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs harissa or hot sauce
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2.  Scrub root vegetables (chokes, parsnips, and turnip). Slice thinly along diagonal, making pieces evenly sized as possible. Place sliced vegetables in large bowl, and toss with both oils.
  3. In small bowl, mix together spices. Sprinkle over vegetables, and toss to coat evenly. Spread in single layer on rimmed baking sheets (I used 2 large baking sheets).
  4. Bake in preheated oven until both sides are golden brown, ~45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  5.  While vegetables roast, in small bowl, mix together all ingredients for dipping sauce. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. Serve chips warm or room temperature with cool dipping sauce. 

    Nutrition for 1 Serving of Oven Chips
    Nutrition for 1 Serving of Dipping Sauce

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fresh Pick of the Week: Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) are available at many fall/winter farmers markets throughout the country. These tubers or plant roots grow below sunflower plants and can be prepared similarly to potatoes. However, Jerusalem artichokes offer a sweeter flavor profile than typical potatoes due to the fact that they are composed of a fructose-based carbohydrate known as "inulin". Beyond the benefits from Jerusalem artichokes' vitamins and minerals, the inulin content may confer health benefits of its own. Inulin has been shown to act as a prebiotic, feeding our body's beneficial bacteria, which may result in a stronger digestive tract and immune system. If all of that doesn't give you reason enough to go out and buy them, stay tuned for a tasty recipe later this week!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grilled Caesar Salad

This summer, some family friends introduced us to this delicious side dish. There is something about preparing vegetables in unorthodox ways that make the usual favorites really shine at the dinner table. Grilled Caesar Salad is quick (and cheap!), which makes it a wonderful weeknight choice or easy, rapid-cook dish at your next dinner party. 

The Nutrition Rundown: Lettuce is often criticized for having "no nutritional value." Not the case! Romaine lettuce, like many fruits and vegetables, is full of fiber and water, helping to keep you full and hydrate you. One romaine heart also contains ~1/4 of your daily folate needs, particularly important for a healthy pregnancy and/or a healthy heart. 

Grilled Caesar Salad
Serves 4

Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 Romaine hearts, sliced in half lengthwise (keep the bottom end on)
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup Tbs freshly grated Parmesan

  1. Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, 2 Tbs olive oil, salt and pepper. Brush onto inside portion of romaine hearts.
  3. Place romaine hearts, inside down, on grill. Allow to cook ~3 minutes, until scored. While cooking, whisk together dressing with balsamic, mustard, and remaining olive oil.
  4. Serve salad drizzled with dressing and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cauliflower Mash with Leeks & Parmesan

This Cauliflower Mash has become a comfort food staple at our dinner table. Because cauliflower steams in just minutes (much faster than potatoes), it is a quick, weeknight fix that feels decadent and special. I use leeks for texture and subtle, onion flavor as well as Parmesan, which adds a saltiness and creaminess to the dish. This version was so delicious, it will likely make an appearance on our Thanksgiving menu this year!

The Nutrition Rundown: In addition to offering fewer calories than standard mashed potatoes, this dish uses leeks, from the "allium" family, and cauliflower, from the "cruciferous" family of vegetables. The combination of nutrients in these vegetable families help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. Can't beat something this healthy and delicious!

Cauliflower Mash with Leeks
Serves 4

2 Tbs Olive oil
2 leeks, bulb and lower leaf, cleaned well, sliced into thin half moons
Salt and Pepper
1 head cauliflower, core and stem removed, chopped into florets
1 cup water
¼ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 Tbs chopped chives, divided

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté ~2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower and toss to combine. Season again with salt and pepper and cook, stirring gently, until cauliflower ends begin to brown (~3-4 minutes).
  3. Add water. Cover saucepan and let vegetables steam until soft, ~7 minutes. Stir halfway through.
  4. Remove pan from heat. Using immersion blender*, puree vegetables. Stir in 3 Tbs Parmesan cheese and 2 Tbs chopped chives. Season again with salt and pepper if needed.
  5.  Serve warm with remaining cheese and chives sprinkled over top. 
*If you don't have an immersion blender, use a handheld, manual vegetable masher. The end product will be lumpier, but still delicious! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jalapeno & Green Onion Cornbread

I was recently inspired by a college friend's deliciously healthy rendition of Southern cornbread. In this version, I added some smokey spice, using a jalapeno mixed into the batter and chipotle butter spread. These grainy muffins were excellent alongside Burning 'Bocha Chili (black bean chili made with Golden Road Beer--recipe coming soon!).

The Nutrition Rundown: Made with all whole grains and made without butter and sugar, these pack more filling-fiber, fewer calories, and less saturated fat than standard cornbread. It gives you some room to add the delicious buttery spread!

Jalapeño and Green Onion Cornbread with Chipotle Butter
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients for Cornbread
1/3 cup safflower oil (or other plant-based oil)
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon molasses
2 cups buttermilk (or make it vegan using 2 cups unsweetened almond milk + 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar)
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (~3 Tbs minced)
4 pieces of green onion (tops and bulbs), sliced (~1/4 cup sliced)

Directions for Cornbread:
Nutrition Facts based on vegan recipe,
without butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using butter or oil, grease 12 muffin tin and set aside.
  2.  In medium bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup, molasses, and milk.
  3. Sift cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt into large bowl.
  4.  Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Add jalapeno and green onion and stir to combine.
  5. Pour batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for ~15-20 minutes, until knife inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks. Serve warm or room temperature with Chipotle Butter. 
Cornbread is best served fresh. It can also be stored in closed container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Ingredients for Butter
½ cup (1 stick) Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 chilis from canned chipotles in adobo, finely chopped

Directions for Butter
  1.  In electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk butter ~1 minute. Add chilis and mix until well combined, ~1 minute more. (If you don’t have an electric mixer, clean hands work really well for this!)
  2.  Place butter on parchment paper, and roll into log, ~2” in diameter. Allow to chill 30 minutes in refrigerator and slice to serve. (You may also forego step 2, and serve butter whipped at room temperature).

Butter can be stored in tightly-wrapped parchment in refrigerator up to a month.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Apple Spiced Oatmeal

Pumpkin and apple are a delicious and tasty autumnal pair. This morning, I made a batch of this hearty oatmeal. It not only made a great weekend breakfast, but it filled the air with the smell of fall! The recipe below serves 4, and whether you're serving 1 or more, I recommend making a hefty batch to re-heat and enjoy all week long. 

The Nutrition Rundown: A bowl of this well-rounded breakfast treat is full of  beta-carotene (aka vitamin A found in orange fruits and vegetables), and it boasts plenty of cholesterol-lowering, satisfying soluble fiber from apples, pumpkin, and oats. 

Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal
Serves 4

3 cups water
1 ½ cups rolled oats (or use steel cut and increase cooking time)
½ cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree
1 apple, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tbs cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup raw almonds, chopped
¼ cup raisins
Honey (optional)

  1. Bring water to a boil. Add oats and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, ~5 minutes or until oatmeal begins to thicken.
  2. Add pumpkin, apple slices, applesauce and spices. Turn heat to low and simmer another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. When oats are desired consistency and apples begin to soften, remove from heat. Stir in almonds and raisins.
  4. Nutrition Facts without added honey
  5. Serve warm as is or drizzled with honey. 

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    Homemade Pasta

    My husband and I recently invested in this pasta maker. We decided to go with a hand-crank instead of the automatic version after getting some tips that the hand-crank works just as easily and the automatic can overheat after a small amount of pasta. So far, the hand-crank seems to be a worthy investment in both pasta making and arm workout.

    For a first pasta attempt, we made basic spaghetti using the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks.  It cooked in about 2 minutes in boiling water and was perfectly al dente. Our crank skills improved dramatically by the end of the process, so next time I'm looking forward to to trying out a new dough recipe.

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Watermelon Basil Martini

    Summer is coming to a close, but with a last heat wave here in LA, I thought I'd sneak in an end-to-summer cocktail. This Watermelon Basil Martini is easy, light, and refreshing!

    The Nutrition Rundown: Many cocktails have added sugar or simple syrup. Fresh, seasonal watermelon adds sweetness without too many added calories. Seltzer lightens the alcohol content and calories as well. As always, try to enjoy in moderation...

    Watermelon Basil Martini
    Makes 2
    1/2 cup diced watermelon
    ~5 basil leaves
    3 oz (2 shots) gin- you could substitute vodka if you prefer
    1 cup ice
    6 ounces club soda

    1. In martini shaker, muddle/smash watermelon and basil. Add gin and ice.Place lid on shaker and shake vigorously. 
    2. Remove shaker lid. Add club soda and stir. Strain into ice-filled glass and serve. 

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Big Bear Hiking: Castle Rock

    A couple weekends ago, my husband and I took a quick overnight trip to Big Bear for some quality mountain-lake-infused fresh air. We hiked Castle Rock in the morning before heading back to LA. Though difficult to find the trailhead, this 3 mile round-trip trail was easy and fun to navigate, with opportunities for amateur-friendly rock climbing and astounding views the entire way up.

    Getting to the trailhead: Off of Big Bear Blvd, just west of Talbot Drive, the trail starts and ends on the southeast (non-lake side) of the road near the 40 MPH sign. There's also a trailhead sign (but some of us didn't see that any of the 3 times we passed it).

    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    What To Eat for Better Skin

    Want glowing skin all year-round? Whether you're trying to reduce acne, prevent wrinkles, or improve the health of your skin, nutrition plays a major role. Healthy skin cells not only help us look our best, but they are involved in important functions, including: hair & nail growth, immune and nerve function, energy storage, and body temperature regulation. Optimize this complex body system with liberal SPF application and a healthy diet. Here are a few skin-focused nutrition tips:

    • Choose complex carbohydrates. Research shows that eating a diet with a high glycemic index contributes to acne. Foods with a high glycemic index are those that increase blood sugar rapidly, causing your body to produce more insulin. This insulin response leads to hormone-, sebum- (skin's natural oil), and cell-production that cause acne. For carbohydrates, choose whole grains, yams with skin, beans, peas, lentils and, as always, fruits and vegetables. Limit refined flour and sugar. 
    • Limit dairy. Though the research is not conclusive, there may be a correlation between milk intake and acne. If acne is a concern, consider non-dairy milk alternatives like almond or soy milk.
    • Consume healthy fats. Our skin has a lipid barrier which is maintained by essential fatty acids in our diet. Keeping this barrier strong creates a natural moisturizing effect by slowing water loss. Focus on omega-3s from fish, flax, and walnuts, and omega-6s from plant oils, nuts, and avocados. 
    • Get your antioxidants! Protect skin from photoaging and our environment's other harmful free-radicals an antioxidant-rich diet. Green tea and red ginseng have both been linked to improved skin elasticity (fewer wrinkles!). Other antioxidant-rich foods include dark chocolate (just a small portion will do the trick!) and fruits & vegetables. 

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Swordfish with Chimichurri

    Chimichurri is often served over steak, but swordfish is another delicious pairing-- the fish's firm texture holds up on grill and its flavor to the strong herbs of the sauce. Anytime you're serving seafood at home, do your best to buy sustainably-caught fish from a reliable vendor (I bought the swordfish from Smart Fish Co at my local farmer's market- I buy from them every week and trust their taste and stock completely).

    The Nutrition Rundown: Swordfish tastes great and is a lean protein choice, leaving behind the saturated fat in fattier pork and beef. The downside? Swordfish is a predatory fish making it higher in mercury than many smaller fish. If you love swordfish and other large predators like tuna and mackerel, avoid mercury-overconsumption by buying domestic (versus imported) and enjoying a moderate portion about once a month. Check out the Environmental Defense Fund for a guide to best and worst mercury choices.

    Swordfish with Chimichurri
    For the Chimichurri: 
    4 garlic cloves
    1 shallot, roughly chopped
    1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped
    2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
    1 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper

    For the Swordfish: 
    2 x 4-6oz swordfish steaks
    2 Tbs olive oil
    salt and pepper

    1. Place all ingredients for chimichurri in food processor and pulse to chop and combine. (If you don't have a food processor, finely chop/mince garlic, shallot, jalapeno, cilantro, and parsley. Stir together with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.) Set aside prepared sauce. 
    2. Preheat grill or grill-pan to medium-high. Rub swordfish with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on pan for ~4-5 minutes per side until cooked (if you want hash marks, twist 90 degrees about halfway through cooking each side). 
    3. Serve grilled swordfish topped with chimichurri. 

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Fresh Pick of the Week: Heirloom Tomatoes

    Photo from the Melrose Place Farmers Market
    In most of the country, heirloom tomatoes are at the peak of their season (in Southern California, we're lucky enough to have these vine-ripened delicacies nearly year-round). So just what are these unusually shaped and splotchy tomato varietals?

    Heirlooms are so named because their seeds can be easily passed down from gardener to gardener (and that's just what gardeners have done for centuries!). They grow "true to seed," meaning that when you replant the seeds of one plant, the new tomato plant will yield a similar fruit. Over the years, a number of varieties have taken favor, and you can check out the many colors, shapes, and taste descriptions here. While their often superior taste may be in part from their breed, it also is likely due to the fact that they are allowed to ripen on the vine, making them their peak of flavor and ripeness when they get to your plate. Heirloom tomatoes, unlike many commercial varieties, can split easily, making them more susceptible to spoilage. Choose intact fruits and use them shortly after purchase from the market or picking from your garden.

    Enjoy heirloom slices alongside any summer dinner, chopped into fresh salsa or sauce, or try this fast, easy summer salad recipe:

    Easy Heirloom Tomato Salad
    Serves 4
    2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
    2 Persian cucumbers, sliced (these are small; you can also use ~1/2 your standard cucumber)
    1/4 red onion, diced
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1 Tbs olive oil
    salt and pepper

    Toss all ingredients in large bowl and enjoy! 

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Connie and Ted's

    A New England style fresh fish bar in the middle of West Hollywood? Yes please! Connie and Ted's offers a great bar, raw bar, and uncomplicated seafood, all sustainably and freshly caught. Last Friday, we enjoyed sitting at the raw bar and asking every oyster question we'd had pent up for the last decade to the very knowledgeable shellfish "bartenders". As someone with lots of oyster-love and little oyster-know-how, the list that came with the chef's selections was a welcome cheat-sheet!

    Here's a look at everything we enjoyed:

    Chef's selection of a dozen oysters

    My drink...someone else's dinner. Maybe crab next time?

    Little Gem Lettuce
    A great take on the classic wedge salad

    Market Fish: Sea Bass with a side of Onion Rings (all shared!)

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Endive, Artichoke & Fig Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

    Overdo it over the holiday weekend? Enjoy this light, refreshing salad, made with artichoke hearts and 2 forms of endive: frisee & radicchio. Endive varieties are similar to lettuce, though heartier and slightly bitter. Mixed with the vinaigrette and tossed with sweet figs, this salad is full of flavor! 

    The Nutrition Rundown: An excellent source of vitamin A (for immune-health and vision) and a hefty dose of filling fiber. Get tons of flavor for not-too-many calories. 

    Endive, Artichoke & Fig Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette
    Serves 6

    For vinaigrette:
    Juice of 2 lemons
    2 Tbs Dijon mustard
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    Salt and pepper
    3 Tbs olive oil

    For salad:
    1 head frisee (aka curly endive), end removed and leaves roughly chopped
    1 head Treviso (or Radicchio), end removed and sliced
    1 ½ cups artichoke hearts, quartered (use steamed frozen or fresh, or drain canned)
    3 Tbs toasted pine nuts
    ~5 figs, sliced

    1.  Make vinaigrette: whisk lemon juice, mustard, and garlic. Add salt and pepper. Continue whisking and slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture.
    2. Toss frisee, Treviso, artichoke hearts, and pine nuts in large bowl with vinaigrette. Add vinaigrette and toss. Taste and season salad with salt and pepper as needed.
    3.  Place sliced figs on top of salad. Serve cold or at room temperature. 

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    July 4th Dessert: Patriotic Berry Tart

    A few years ago, I adapted this tart recipe from one I found in Real Simple .  It’s quick and easy and such a hit. Use any berries that are in season and play around with fun color combinations depending on your occasion.

    The Nutrition Rundown: Fresh, seasonal berries add fiber, antioxidants, and yummy sweetness without too much added sugar. 

    Patriotic Berry Tart
    flour for the work surface
    1 8-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    1 egg, beaten
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    4 ounces cream cheese, softened
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
    2 cups mixed berries

    1. Heat oven to 375° F. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the sheet of pastry and roll it into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    2. Using the tip of a knife, score a 1-inch border around the pastry without cutting all the way through. Brush the border with the egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake until golden and puffed, 18 to 22 minutes.
    3. Using the tip of a knife, rescore the border of the cooked pastry without cutting all the way through. Gently press down on the center of the pastry sheet to flatten it. Let cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the cream, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly within the borders of the pastry.
    5. Arrange the berries in a single layer over the filling and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar.

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    Fresh Pick of the Week: Cantaloupe

    Cantaloupe is a variety of muskmelon (a species of melon native to the Middle-East) that in season from March-September depending on what part of the country you're in --June-September is peak season out here in California.

    Need to know how to pick a cantaloupe? The melon should have a flowery, sweet smell with some give with pressure to the sides (no super soft spots, which mean spoilage!). Like choosing oranges or stone-fruits, select a melon that feels heavy for its size.

    Slice in half, remove the seeds, and cut out the flesh to serve. Diced cantaloupe is less than 60 calories per cup and is high in vitamins A and C, for immune, vision and skin health. Try this melon:

    • As a great snack/dessert on its own; 
    • In a fruit salad tossed with fresh mint and blueberries; or 
    • Cubed and wrapped with prosciutto as a savory appetizer.

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Healthy Artichoke Dip

    The Artichoke and Spinach Dip appetizers at restaurants are alarmingly high in calories, saturated fat and sodium. If we assume the Applebee's portion serves 4 people, the dip with the chips come in at 330 calories, 22 grams of fat (6 grams saturated fat), and 655 mg of sodium. That's about a third of your recommended fat and sodium intake just from this appetizer. Yikes!

    I decided to try out a healthy take on this appetizer favorite, substituting white beans for all the creamy condiments that go into the standard version. I used kale in place of spinach just for a change of pace. The nutrition facts below are without chips/crackers/veggies for dipping, but you can already see a stark difference! 

    The Nutrition Rundown: The bean substitution lowers fat and boosts fiber, to save you calories and make you feel satisfied. A sizzling sprinkle of cheese over the top gives all the flavor, without the over-the-top calories of the standard cream-filled version. If you're watching your waistline, try veggies for dipping in place of chips or crackers. 

    Healthy Artichoke Dip

    Serves 8-10

    4 cloves garlic
    12oz can low sodium white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    1 cup chopped kale leaves, stems removed
    Juice of 1 lemon
    2 Tbs white wine vinegar
    ½ tsp salt
    ½ tsp black pepper
    12 oz fresh or frozen artichoke hearts, steamed (frozen steam easily in microwave)
    2 Tbs olive oil
    ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Pulse garlic cloves in food processor for a few seconds until chopped. Add beans, kale, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper and pulse until pureed. Add artichokes. With food processor running, pour in olive oil slowly through hole at top of food processor and blend until well combined—artichokes do not need to be fully pureed.
    3. Add dip to 9x9 inch baking dish. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven, add Parmesan to top and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is golden brown. 
    4. Serve warm with whole grain crackers, tortilla chips or crudités. 

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Fresh Pick of the Week: Apricots

    California apricots are in season now! Apricots are a sweet-and-tart fruit from the plum family, with a short peak season from May-July in California, lasting through August other parts of the country. While they're an easy, low-calorie and vitamin A-rich treat on their own, apricots are also delicious...


    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    The Hart and the Hunter

    Butter Biscuits & Condiments and Marinated Olives
    Last weekend, I checked out The Hart and the Hunter in the Palihotel on Melrose. The food had a rustic feel with Southern soul, and wowed our party of three. The highlight for me was sharing a pre-dinner bottle of wine (purchased from the hotel's coat closet in the lobby) alongside the restaurant's can't-miss Butter Biscuits, all enjoyed outside in the Hotel's courtyard. We also loved our other shared plates: Brussels Sprouts, Kale Salad, Shrimp & Grits and Hanger Steak. 

    Looking forward to my next trip to this neighborhood favorite! 


    Friday, April 5, 2013


    Photo of the gorgeous restaurant from Crossroads Gallery
    Last weekend, a friend and I checked out Crossroads, a new restaurant on Melrose serving up delicious small plates, fun cocktails, and great wines in an elegant yet casual space. Oh...did I mention this amazing farm-to-table food also happens to be vegan? The food is simply fresh, plant-focused, and creative without being the sort of "in-your-face-vegan" fare that you may have tried (and tired of!) in the past. I highly recommend Crossroads, whether you go for a full meal or grab an appetizer to share over drinks. Check out what we ordered and loved below: 

    Caramelized Leek and Cauliflower Bisque
    with Fried Capers 
    Red Grapefruit Salad
    (perfect Southern California flavors!)
    Kale Spanakopita
    with harissa spiced smoked tomato fondu & mint oil
    Papas Arrugadas
    Wood-Fired Meaty Lasagna

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Good (for you) Morning Muffins

    I've had a particular affinity for delicious, nutritious breakfasts recently. I love sweet breakfast but can't stand the sugar crash that comes with a large morning pastry. So I decided to bake a muffin I could feel good about "indulging in" at breakfast this week. I plan on eating them alongside some Greek yogurt or spread with cashew or almond butter to keep me full until lunchtime. 

    The Nutrition Rundown: These dense, whole-grain muffins get most of their sweetness from fruit instead of processed sugar, and get their fat from heart-healthy nuts and flax instead of saturated-fat-filled-butter. 
    Good (for you) Morning Muffins
    Makes 15 muffins
    1 ½ cups + 1-2 tsp whole wheat flour , divided
    1 cup oats
    1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    1 Tbs wheat bran
    2 tsp baking soda
    ¼ tsp salt
    2 ripe bananas, mashed
    1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
    1 egg
    ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
    ½ cup dried cranberries
    1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
    1/3 cup pecans, chopped

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins (you can use cooking spray for this. If you’re using liners, place them in the tin before spraying.)
    2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, wheat bran, baking soda and salt.
    3.  Combine banana, yogurt and egg in a separate bowl.  Make well in center of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients to dry. Mix well.
    4.  Coat dried fruit and nuts in 1-2 tsp flour. Add to mixture and stir to combine.
    5. Evenly distribute batter among muffin cups. Bake ~18-20 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.