Quick and Yummy Jasmine Rice Pilaf

Today I’m going to share a simple recipe for a deliciously fragrant jasmine rice pilaf you can easily make in your rice cooker. Earlier this week the hubs and I wanted a starchy side to go along with some leftover smoked chicken and veggies we had in the fridge. We always have jasmine rice on hand and luckily I had some other things in the pantry and fridge from some previous recipes this month that helped pull things together. My recipe for this rice pilaf is similar to others I’ve seen before, but for the sake of what was in my fridge at the time, I put my own little spin to some traditional recipes I’ve seen before.

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Jasmine Rice Pilaf

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice

2 cups chicken stock (chicken broth will also work)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 bay leaf

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 small shallot chopped (can also use regular onion)

2 teaspoons olive oil or margarine

3 teaspoons minced garlic cloves

Directions
In a small to medium frying pan, saute chopped garlic and shallot in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. In your rice cooker, combine the rice, chicken stock, almonds, bay leaf, mushrooms, and garlic/shallot mixture. Cover and hit the “cook” button 🙂 Your rice should be done in about 20-30 minutes 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about simple, especially when I can utilize things I’ve already got in the pantry. One modification you can also do is making this recipe with a portion of brown rice to add fiber. I absolutely love jasmine rice vs the traditional long-grain white rice because of it’s fragrant qualities — very nostalgic for me as a child. White rice usually gets a bad rap as a starchy carbohydrate but this is typically due to eating it in large amounts or adding copious amounts of sugar, salt, and fat before and after cooking. Using the natural flavor profile of garlic and onions and adding heart healthy fats from the olive oil and almonds can bring your typical side of rice to an all new level 🙂

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Don’t be alarmed to see some of your mixture’s components collect to the top of the rice.

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Give that rice a nice mixing so that each serving gets a good mix of the mushrooms and other ingredients.

20130424_193615Bon Appetit!


Hungry? Is it Physical Hunger or Emotional Hunger?

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It’s 8:30 p.m. and you’re up watching your favorite t.v. show. During the commercial break, you decide to flip it to Food Network and see Guy Fieri trying a delicious malted milkshake on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Hungry yet? Or maybe you keep the commercials on and see that DQ Grill and Chill has a promotion for buy one blizzard, get one free; magically, you are on the move to find something sweet in your fridge or pantry….or maybe even looking for your car keys to make a run through the drive through for a dipped cone. Does any of this sound familiar?  Or maybe you’re just really hungry for something sweet and savory after a rough day at work or an argument with a friend over the phone. Can you relate to any of these scenarios? I most definitely can and can also admit that I’ve given in to a lot of them as well. With a lot of the clientele I see, an important topic of discussion is helping people figure out when they’re truly hungry and using intuitive eating as a way to eat sensibly throughout the day.

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Sometimes we may eat out of boredom and maybe just because someone suggested to go eat because it was something to do. I’ve worked with people in the past that use food for comfort— especially knowing that they can count on that pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to taste exactly like it did the last time they bought it without the emotional baggage of the boyfriend that made them mad a few hours before 🙂 If you’ve ever wondered if you’re walking the line between physical hunger and emotional hunger, I’ve posted a graphic below to help you decipher between “symptoms”:

8 Traits of Emotional HungerThe information above can be really helpful in trying to decipher between physical and emotional hunger. Sometimes people tell me they never really feel hungry at all, or at least not until the end of the day. Did you know that eating more frequently throughout the day can actually help that sensation of hungry come back? Trust me, this is a good thing. If we’re the type of person on the go and rarely set aside time for meals or snacks, our body will start to think, “well buddy, if you’re not even going to do something about this hunger then I’m not even going to give you that hunger feeling anymore”. Now don’t get me wrong, just because that hunger feeling has gone away does NOT mean your body isn’t in need of those calories. But, if we start to change our habits and eat sensible meals and snacks every 3-4 hours, our metabolism starts to “wake up” and provide us those natural feelings of hunger that can help us achieve intuitive eating.

To complement some of the things I shared in finding an appropriate vending machine snack to address your hunger needs in a bind, I’ve listed some key things below to help with the hungry (or perhaps hangry) battle:

1. Take Time with Your Meals – Be sure to take at least 15-20 minutes when you eat if you’ve got the time. It takes about this length of time for your brain and stomach to communicate chemically and actually give you that sensation of fullness. Often times though, we end up eating so quickly that within the first five minutes of eating we’ve already eaten the volume of food it would take for our stomach to be full. But since it’s only been five minutes and there’s still more food left to be had on your plate or at the table, you may keep eating until you reach that level of “over full” about 30 minutes later. Think of that overly full feeling that makes you want (or need) to unbutton your blue jeans and put on some sweat pants, or in my case, take off my spanx 🙂 Ways you can extend your meal time include putting the fork down in between every bite of food (i.e. don’t have bite #4 of mashed potatoes hovering by your mouth ready to go before you even completely swallowed bite #1), or taking sips of water or other low calorie beverage in between bites of food as well.

2. Make Sure You’re Staying Well Hydrated- Feeling hungry pretty soon after already having your meal or snack? That rumble in your tummy might actually be your body telling you that you’re thirsty. Before getting to the point of dehydration and having a parched mouth or dry throat, your body may give the sensation of hunger to prompt you to drink more water. Take home point: if you feel “hungry” pretty soon after already eating your meal or snack not too long ago, have a glass of water and then reassess the hunger that you’re feeling. If you’re still hungry after rehydrating, you may have truly not eaten enough at your previous meal or snack.

3. Avoid Going Long Periods of Time Between Meals and Snacks- Just like a burning fireplace, our metabolism likes to be fed every few hours to continue to burn. This also includes breakfast which could be considered the “lighter fluid” that jump starts your fire /metabolism for the day. Having breakfast within 30 mins-1 hr after rising can help literally ‘break the fast’ that your body was experiencing while sleeping. Only eating 1 or 2 times a day puts our body in survival mode, training it to hold on to any calorie we give it for dear life. Also, if you’re eating small mini meals/snacks throughout the day, this keeps you from being overly hungry at your next meal. One other helpful tip, especially if you’re going out to eat: have a snack 30 mins-1hr prior to going out to eat if you know you’ll be ravenously hungry by the time you go out to eat. Having a small snack such as an apple or peanut butter crackers can help curb your appetite enough to prevent you from gorging on a whole basket of chips and salsa (or bread and butter) before your entree gets in front of you.

As a last thought, I do want to acknowledge that there are foods out there that have been created just for pure pleasure….which is great! We most definitely eat to nourish our bodies but we also eat for pleasure too. Finding a balance between addressing your body’s nutritional needs and incorporating your favorite “pleasure” foods is all part of eating a balanced healthy diet. Using intuitive eating and listening to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues can help decipher between physical hunger and emotional hunger 🙂


Wine, Paula Deen, and Everything in Between

I apologize that it’s been a minute since my last post…between work and a dash of vacation, it’s been a little hectic around here. But today, I’m uber excited to share a few pictures from my recent outing to Sandestin. In addition to traveling for the Southern College Health Association Conference, my in-laws also included me and the hubs in their annual trip to the Sandestin Wine Festival.

IMG_20130418_142631During my time at the SCHA conference, I had the pleasure of presenting one of the breakout sessions about partnering with community entities to enhance student engagement in health and nutrition promotion. Other breakout sessions with our speakers included peer education, stress management for college students, medical management of eating disorder patients, and other topics pertinent to college health. After the conference ended on Saturday, I got to spend the rest of my time with the family at the wine festival.

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Notice that Diane Hendricks is an RD and a chef? AWESOME!

One highlight of the festival was Paula Deen as one of the celebrity chef guests! And guess what? I even got to chitchat with her before they whisked her away on a golf cart for her lunch session. I mentioned to her that her banana pudding changed my life. She laughed and said “well, it ain’t yo mama’s banana pudding!” and I almost responded with “you’re right, my mom is filipino and doesn’t make banana pudding” 🙂 If I had to be honest though, I really wanted to ask her about her diabetes medication, but I did not want to have that kind of a conversation in such a public place 🙂

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Paula while talking to me about that good ole banana pudding.

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Look at that Mr. Sparkles picture on the menu…below I have a picture with the description of the Mr. Sparkles challenge.

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I don’t know about you, but that Kitchen Sink looks like fun.

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Can we say Woman Vs. Food? I don’t think I could do it.

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Beautiful view of the courtyard from my in-laws townhouse/condo front porch at The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

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A handful of VIP guests visiting the tents before the hundreds come in for the festival.

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Me and the hubs.

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$40.00 gummy bear at the candy shop

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More wine please?

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A handful of the wines we eventually picked out…. you can see I tend to go for the sweet “girly” wines 🙂

Me and the husband got to be on the Food Network stage for our pilot of "What Goes With Beer?" ....I think we could hit it big :)

Me and the husband got to be on the Food Network stage for our pilot of “What Goes With Beer?” ….I think we could hit it big 🙂

I apologize for the lack of commentary with today’s post; I mostly wanted to share some fun pictures with you guys. Soon I’ll be posting a review of the calamansi beverage that Nomsi in San Francisco has sent me— I can’t wait to share 🙂


Mocha Chiffon Cake

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IMG_1097Wedding cake. One of the things I look forward to the most when attending a wedding. It also appears that wedding season is upon us in full swing. The cake you see above is actually my wedding cake from almost just a year ago that my aunt and her best friend made for my wedding as a wonderfully beautiful and tasty wedding gift. In terms of the flavor of the cake, they created a mocha chiffon cake with  buttercream frosting that I absolutely love. The cake itself and especially the icing is not very sweet which makes it a cake that some people love and some may not. To accommodate everyone’s palate, we provided an additional sheet cake of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (another favorite that my aunt makes) and a chocolate cake appearing to look like an NFL football field and my husband in his recliner after the day in the office (my husband is a fantasy football fiend).

IMG_7803-2If you’re interested in trying this mocha chiffon cake for yourself (I love it personally), see my aunt’s recipe below to make your very own, One thing that she has always cautioned me is that it’s a fairly delicate mixture and may take a few tries to get just right. You’ll want to work fast with the batter to make sure it’s blended well and with the icing you’ll want to add the milk mixture slowly so that it doesn’t get watery and blends well with the butter.

Mocha Chiffon Cake

8 Eggs @ Room Temperature (Separate Yolk & White)

1 ¾ Cups Sifted Cake Flour

1 ¾ Cups Sugar (Use ¾ cup sugar with egg white & 1 cup for the yolk)

1 ½ tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp salt

½ cup oil

2 tsp vanilla

½ tsp cream of tartar

¾ cup boiling water

2 tsp instant coffee

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa

Combine coffee and cocoa in a cup and add boiling water, mix and let cool. In a large bowl sift cake flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking soda & salt together. Make a well in the center. Pour the oil, egg yolks, vanilla and cold coffee mixture. Mix until smooth. In a large bowl sprinkle cream of tartar over egg whites. Beat at high speed until very stiff peaks forms. Add ¾ cup sugar and continue beating until well blended. Pour batter over egg whites, with a rubber spatula; fold under and over motion until blended. Pour into ungreased pan or line the bottom with parchment paper and bake at 325˚ for 50 minutes.

Frosting:

1 lb. unsalted butter (room temperature)

1 lb. “I Can’t believe it’s not butter” (room temperature)

Confectionery sugar to taste

1 cup warm whole milk, mixed with 1 tsp. cocoa and 1 tsp. instant coffee

Whip butter and margarine on high speed until well blended.  Continue beating and gradually add milk mixture and sugar to taste.

*** If you end up making this recipe yourself, please let me know about your baking experience and what you think of the taste of the cake 🙂 Below I’ve also got a few pictures of some of the wedding cakes my husband and I have been able to taste recently at friends and family’s weddings 🙂

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Understanding Food Label Language and Claims

ImageOh food labels…before coming to college I was pretty aloof to their information…specifically what was considered a serving size for a product or how many servings were in one package. I am even embarrassed to admit that before studying nutrition I was under the impression that a pint of ice cream was one portion size….not four 1/2 cup servings! This is still a common question I get with many of my patients. Being aware of the claims on food labels and nutrition facts labels are not just important if we’re trying to shed a few pounds (or gain) but is also quite important for people with diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, among other chronic and acute conditions.

Reading food labels can help you become a better shopper. Below I’ve listed the government definitions for terms you’ll want to understand, especially in regards to calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc. It’s important to remember that these claims are based on a single serving of that particular food.

Calories

  • Low calorie– 40 calories or less per serving
  • Reduced calorie– at least 25% fewer calories per serving when compared to a similar food
  • Light or Lite– 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat per serving
  • Calorie free– less than five calories per serving

If more than half the calories are from fat, the fat content must be reduced by 50%

Fat

  • Fat free– less than 1/2 gram (.5 gram) of fat per serving
  • Low fat– 3 grams of fat or less per serving
  • Reduced fat– at least 25% less fat when compared to a similar food

Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol free– less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol per serving AND 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving
  • Low cholesterol– 20 milligrams or less of cholesterol per serving AND 2 grams or less saturated fat per serving

Sodium

  • Sodium free– less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
  • Very low sodium– 35 milligrams or less sodium per serving
  • Low sodium– 75% less sodium than the amount in non-reduced sodium item (140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving)
  • Unsalted– food prepared without salt that normally is salted during processing

20130415_101123 (3)Other claims that you may see on a label often times may include:

  • High fiber– five or more grams of fiber per serving
  • “High in…” – provides 20% or more of the Daily Value of a specified nutrient per serving (ex: Vitamin C)
  • “Good source of…”- provides at least 10 to 19% of the Daily Value of a particular vitamin or nutrient per serving

Do any of these phrases ring a bell for some of your favorite food products? If you don’t already pay attention to these claims on food labels, now you’ll know exactly what this means 🙂 Happy eating and happy shopping!


Healthy Vending Machine Snacks

20130411_104541  Ah vending machines…depending on our mood, our hunger level, or our personal dietary restrictions (or lack thereof) they can be our best friend or source of frustration. Yesterday morning I was running through the house like a madwoman trying to get ready to help with a wellness event at 7am, right afterwards I had a meeting and conference call which left me sans breakfast and with a very hungry and desperate stomach by 10:30 a.m. After scraping the bottom of my purse and desk drawers for loose change, I found myself standing in front of the vending machine for several minutes deciding what would be the most appropriate choice so far from breakfast but oh so close to lunchtime.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my anecdote on various levels. Working in a college town, I find many of the clients I encounter in counseling and group sessions inquire about how to eat healthy from the vending machine if it’s the only option at the time or if they should even eat at all. One thing that we should definitely take into consideration is understanding that though the vending machine may not be our first choice when it comes to a source of nutritious food, there are certainly some appropriate options available that can help us avoid going long periods of time without eating…especially if you’re in a class, meeting, or work function that rolls into a meal time.

When choosing a snack from the vending machine, it’s helpful to know the nutrients that will address our hunger and keep us full for the longest amount of time. Below I’ve listed some nutrients to keep in consideration when picking the best snack choice:

Fiber: not only does fiber aid in keeping our bowel movements regular, lowering our cholesterol, and controlling blood sugar levels, but fiber can help us feel full for an extended amount of time. Unlike simple sugars, fiber takes longer for the body to digest and provides “bulk” to our meal or snack without tacking on excessive calories.

Protein: Not only is protein used for repair & maintenance of cells in our body, but protein can also address our hunger quickly and provide fullness for an extended period of time. Though carbohydrates are our body’s preferred fuel source (and the only thing our brain can run off of in the form of glucose), protein and fat are more chemically complex and take longer for the body to digest thus leaving us fuller for a longer amount of time.

Fat: When it comes to fat, it depends on the type. Mono and polyunsaturated fats that come from sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, olive oils, etc. are extremely heart healthy. Luckily for us, vending machine options such as trail mixes and nut packs provide these heart healthy fats. When it comes to feeling satisfied and full in a meal, fat can provide that feeling of satiety that we’re looking for, keeping us fuller for a longer amount of time.  Keeping that in consideration, you do want to avoid convenience snacks that provide high amounts of saturated and trans fat (not to mention simple sugars), for example, a honey bun, poptart, or regular potato chips.

If you’d like some specific examples of some specific vending machine choices, check out these recommendations from Fitness Magazine:

 Planters Sunflower Kernels (1/4 cup)
160 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 4g fiber
The Bottom Line: Full of healthy fats

 Baked! Lays Original
210 calories, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 4g fiber
The Bottom Line: Surprisingly fiber-full

 Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (20)
110 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat
The Bottom Line: Naturally fat-free

Smartfood Reduced-Fat Popcorn
120 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber
The Bottom Line: Low fat, and has fiber!

Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey
180 calories, 6g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 2g fiber
The Bottom Line: Beats hunger

Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts (39)
160 calories, 13g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 6g protein
The Bottom Line: High in protein

Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk
110 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 1g fiber
The Bottom Line: Guilt-free chocolate

Triscuits
240 calories, 6 grams fiber
The Bottom Line: High in fiber but don’t resort to Wheat Thins Toasted Chips when they’re out of stock which won’t provide as much fiber and packs a punch of sodium

For some helpful additional guidelines in picking up some healthy vending machine choices, check out recommendations from the Alabama Department of Public Health‘s 10-10-5 guidelines when it comes to healthy vending choices 🙂


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Happy Snacking 🙂 🙂


Hydroxycut Gummies

20130407_114036 Last night I had the pleasure of talking to a college bible study group about fad diets and general healthy eating during the summer. I was so excited about their questions but also realized that some of the misconceptions they had were probably pretty common– especially when it comes to finding the magic bullet quick fix to weight loss. Which brings me to my next item of business…. have any of you seen the gummy version of Hydroxycut?! My husband and I made a trip to Sams Club earlier this week, and I was blown away by this newest gimmick in the weight loss pill industry. I decided to Google these little gems and found a few user reviews. Of course many of these raved about loving the gummy taste and “how fun” it was to “effortlessly” lose copious amounts of weight. The funniest thing I found though was the following review at http://www.drugstore.com:

“Curbs my appetite—I still eat what I want, just not as much. Tastes like burned taco seasoned meat.”

I don’t know about you, but that is the funniest thing that I’ve read in awhile. But in all reality, I do have concern with these types of products, especially in the gummy form when you run the risk of small children mistaking them for candy. When working with my patients and having conversations about diet supplements that they’ve seen on TV or heard about from friends, I always ask my patients if they see themselves taking this product for the rest of their lives. When my patients respond with a no, then we discuss what will eventually happen to their “high metabolism” and the possibility of gaining the weight back they they’ve lost. When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady is the key. This ensures that you’re losing/burning actual fat instead of pure water weight and lean body tissue. It’s very likely that someone will lose a fairly significant amount of weight loss during the first week of changing up their diet (2+ lbs) but you really want your rate of weight loss to stay within a range of 0.5-2lbs per week. The most disheartening thing I find is losing a good bit of weight in a fairly short amount of time and gaining it all back quickly and possibly weighing more than you had to begin with.

When it comes to Hydroxycut gummies or many of the other weight loss supplements out there, I urge my clients to be weary of all of the fillers that are contained in the product. When someone briefly looks at the label they may find comfort in reading ingredients that appear recognizable such cumin extract, wild mint extract, pomegranate, etc., but since Hydroxycut does not disclose the amounts of their “proprietary blend” including the filler ingredients, it all seems very questionable. Other reviews that I have noted have cautioned that though this product is said to be “stimulant-free”, consumers should be weary since the company has been controversial and notorious for its products and methods.

The bottom line:

If a product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Case in point, gummy candies that will help you lose weight sounds like something right up my alley but even if you see initial weight loss, you’ve got to ask yourself if this is weight that will stay off long-term. And, if you think about it, if these gummies or any other weight loss pill were the true magic bullet, I think they would charge more than $19.99/bottle (granted, if you follow the dosage recommendations, you’d need about 3 bottles of gummies per month).

In the next few weeks, I’ll be doing some reviews on some of the popular fad diets circulating right now. If you’ve got a special request, just let me know 🙂


Quick and Easy Green Chile Guacamole Dip/Spread

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And a good Monday to all of you! This past weekend my husband and I tried to enjoy the outdoor weather as much as possible, which often includes grilling out. He ended up making burgers and in the process made a quick and delicious spread that I can’t wait to share with you guys today. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t mind a little shortcut when it comes to recipes. For me and my husband this includes a little shortcut on guacamole. Now don’t get me wrong, I love homemade guacamole with a fresh avocado but if you’re wanting to maximize what’s in your pantry/fridge at the time, there’s no shame in convenience 🙂 Depending on your taste preference, you can buy the spicy or original version from Wholly Guacamole but when comparing the nutrition facts label, both contain the same amount of calories (100 cals) and sodium (170 mg) per snack pack. Adding in a bit of the light sour cream makes the dip lighter in consistency which makes it versatile as both a dip and spread. But enough about all that…let’s get to the recipe!

Green Chile Guacamole Dip/Spread (for ~2 people)

Ingredients

1 snack pack of Wholly Guacamole (flavor of your choice)

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 red tomato (diced)

1/2 small can green chiles

2 Tb light sour cream

Instructions

Chop ingredients as listed, combine in bowl and enjoy!

20130406_172925Pretty simple and basic huh? It’s nothing fancy but we certainly found it to be tasty as a spread on our turkey burgers. I enjoyed it the most as a guilt-free dip, especially at about 135 calories for the whole recipe. However, keep in mind that this recipe yields for about 2 people— my husband and I had enough to each have one heaping dollop on our burgers with some left over to dip a few chips on the side. If you’re making this for a get together, I would suggest buying the 7oz Wholly Guacamole pack to prepare.

In terms of nutrition, not only can guacamole/avocados be tasty, but they are an awesome source of heart healthy fats. For many of my clients, we talk about using avocados as a source of fat in their meals since avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat as well as polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat is typically found in avocados, nuts, vegetable oils, canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil with the benefits of helping to normalize blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol levels, lowers risk of heart disease and stroke, and assist in lowering pain and stiffness for rheumatoid arthritis. If you’re interested in some  of the other health benefits of avocados as well as additional healthy recipes outside of guacamole, check out www.avocadocentral.com.

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Bon Appétit!


Baby Bella and Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage Pasta

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20130403_181027Ahhh! Have I ever mentioned to you how much I love food and how much I enjoy cooking? Well I do and I do. The funny thing is that I didn’t really start learning to cook until grad school, mostly because my grandparents did a lot of the cooking when I was younger and I lived and worked in the residence hall/dorm most of college. However, last evening I got the hankering to try Dreamfields Healthy Carb Living Pasta that I scored as a freebie at the Alabama Dietetic Association Meeting in March. I wanted to make sure I made a sauce that was light and didn’t mask the taste and quality of the pasta, especially since I hadn’t tried any of Dreamfields pasta before. I figured a simple sauce with olive oil and garlic would fit the bill, but I also wanted to add some additional components for taste and texture. And with that said, let me proceed below with my recipe! — P.S. I tend to not do very stringent measuring while cooking and usually add ingredients in “to taste” so if you decide to make this yourself, you’ll probably want to play around with things a bit 🙂

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I love Publix!

20130403_180941Running a little low on the dry basil but that’s okay!

Baby Bella and Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage Pasta (It’s a mouthful!)

Ingredients:

~16 oz dried pasta

1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (may want to stick closer to 1/2 cup if you don’t add a lot of additional ingredients to your version of the dish)

3 garlic cloves minced

1 shallot chopped/sliced

2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your taste preference)

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 Tb dried basil (you can use fresh if you’ve got it; I forgot to pick some up at Publix and ended up using dried)

8 oz baby bella sliced mushrooms

12 oz  sliced Al Fresco sundried tomato chicken sausage (or any other meat/protein you’d like to use)

2 oz grated parmesan cheese (again, up to your discretion)

sea salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

Directions

Follow pasta directions cooking pasta al dente or to desired tenderness – once the pasta has cooked, drain the pasta and set aside but reserve about 2 or 3 Tb of the pasta water. While your pasta cooks, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sautee pan or wok. Add in your garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes, then add your chopped shallot. Cook garlic and shallots for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so your garlic doesn’t burn. Next add your baby bellas and sliced sausage to your olive oil mixture cooking for about 5 minutes or until your baby bellas are slightly tender.

Next, add your pasta to your pan and toss to coat while also adding about 2 Tb of the leftover pasta water. Toss in your parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste and you’re good to chow down! 🙂

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Chop up that garlic and shallot!

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After that shallot and garlic has sauteed for a bit, don’t forget your red pepper flakes

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Add in those baby bellas

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the great thing about the Al Fresco sausages are that they come fully cooked so you just want to make sure they’re heated to warm temperature for the dish

20130403_190321Don’t forget your Italian parsley

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And ta da!

Thankfully my husband really enjoyed the dish and since it’s just the two of us and our dog scoring a sliver of chicken sausage here and there, we have plenty of leftovers that’ll make for some nice lunches over the next few days. I like having the Italian parsley in the dish to add some earthiness to the flavors and provide a bit of texture as well. But, if Italian parsley isn’t your thing, you may want to do some chopped fresh basil as an alternative or forgo the greens all together. Overall, the base of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper is a fairly common combination that you can use with any pasta and additional ingredients of your liking —- awesome!

Before I end this post though, I do want to make mention of the Dreamfields Pasta. As you can see below from the label, Dreamfields indicates that it only has 5 grams digestible carbs despite 41 grams being listed on the label per serving. With Dreamfields pasta, 5 grams is fiber while 31 grams are “protected carbs”, which is apparently the  carbohydrate that is protected by a special protein/fiber blend by Dreamfields to prevent the digestion of this starch. Sounds pretty nifty huh? Perhaps even a little confusing. Check out the Dreamfields Expert Q&A for further explanation. However, I would be careful about counting it as 5 grams of carbohydrate for your meal of choice. While you do that, I’ll be enjoying my leftover pasta 🙂

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P.S. Have any of you had Dreamsfield pasta before?