Tuesday, December 27


Ten Skin Super Foods...
Dark Chocolate: It's medicine—so of course you need it! Flavonols, the antioxidants in dark chocolate, reduce roughness in the skin and protect against sun damage. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, women who drank cocoa fortified with 326 milligrams of flavonols (equal to a standard Hershey's Special Dark bar) had better skin texture and stronger resistance to UV rays than those who drank cocoa containing just a small amount of the antioxidant. You need just a few ounces a day.
Flaxseeds These wee seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which erase spots and iron out fine lines. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that participants in one study who downed just over two grams (about half a teaspoon) of O-3's in six weeks experienced significantly less irritation and redness, along with better-hydrated skin. "The fats are believed to stifle your body's response to irritation and attract water to skin cells to plump up the skin and reduce wrinkles," Murad says. Sprinkle seeds on oatmeal or veggies.
Green Tea: What can't green tea do? OK, your taxes. Anyway, when it's hot, the bionic brew releases catechins, a type of antioxidant with proven anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. (The tea's antioxidants start to degrade as it cools, so drink it while it's hot.) A 2007 study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that drinking two to six cups a day not only helps prevent skin cancer but may reverse the effects of sun damage by neutralizing the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin.

Quick Beef & Barley Soup

I love Beef Barley Soup...one of my top favs...
  • 8 ounces sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 large stalk celery, sliced

  • 1 large carrot, sliced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking barley

  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1-2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
    1. Sprinkle steak with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the steak and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
    2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion and celery to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add tomato paste and thyme and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated with the tomato paste and are beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
    3. Add barley, broth, water, salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juice to the pot and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vinegar to taste.

    Tips & Notes

    • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


    Per serving: 250 calories; 8 g fat ( 2 g sat , 5 g mono ); 26 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 17 g protein; 5 g fiber; 701 mg sodium; 573 mg potassium.
  • Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops & Snow Peas

  • 12 ounces dry sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or dry bay scallops (see Note)

  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari, or soy sauce, divided

  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well (see Tip)

  • 2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup trimmed and diagonally sliced snow peas, (1/2 inch thick)

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions

  • 1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
    1. Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
    2. Place a large, high-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes more.
    3. Meanwhile, whisk 3 tablespoons canola oil, the remaining 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce), vinegar and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper; toss to combine.
    4. Remove the scallops from the marinade and pat dry. Heat a large skillet over medium-high until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water upon contact. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden and just firm, about 2 minutes total. Gently stir the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

    Tips & Notes

    • Note: Be sure to buy “dry” scallops, which are scallops that have not been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP. Scallops that have been treated with STP (“wet” scallops) have been subjected to a chemical bath and are mushy, less flavorful and won't brown properly.
    • Tip: Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa's natural, bitter protective covering. Find it in natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets.


    Per serving: 326 calories; 15 g fat ( 1 g sat , 8 g mono ); 19 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrates; 16 g protein; 4 g fiber; 713 mg sodium; 511 mg potassium.
  • The 6 Good Carbs to Add to Your Diet

    Of course, not all carbohydrates are created equally. First of all, fruits, dairy and vegetables are all sources of carbohydrates. And when it comes to starches, there are indeed “good” carbs (we’ll get to that in a sec) and the “bad” ones that, if you eat them all the time, can raise your risk of developing diseases like heart disease and diabetes. (We’re talking about doughnuts, cakes and even refined white breads.) On the flip side, eating “good carbs” in place of refined ones can reduce your risk of these very same diseases—and may even help you to lose weight because they’re generally rich in feel-full fiber. One study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating three servings of whole grains a day helped people reduce their total body fat and abdominal fat. Here are 6 “great” carbs to keep in your diet.
    Whole Wheat Pasta
    Wheat Berries
    Pop Corn

    From Eating Well

    Saturday, December 24

    Southwestern Pizza

    Nonstick cooking spray
    1 12-inch 100% whole wheat pizza crust
    1 cup prepared tomato salsa
    1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat 2 percent mozzarella
    1 1/3 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
    ... 1 small sweet red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup)
    2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
    1/4 cup cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

    1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place crust on sheet and top with salsa, 1 cup mozzarella, beans, sliced red pepper, and scallions. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
    2. Place pizza in oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until mozzarella is melted. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro if desired. Cut into six slices and serve.

    Nutrition facts per serving (2 slices): 488 calories, 28g protein, 72g carbohydrate, 12g fat (5.4g saturated), 16g fiber

    Thursday, December 22

    Chili Roasted Salmon with Cilantro Cream

    Nonstick cooking spray
    4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    4 garlic cloves, smashed
    ... 2 teaspoons chili powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    3 teaspoons olive oil
    4 5-ounce skinless salmon fillets
    1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
    1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
    1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
    1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup light sour cream
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mist 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray. In a small baking dish, mix together 2 tablespoons lime juice with garlic, chili powder, cumin, and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add salmon and turn to coat; let sit.
    2. In a medium bowl, toss corn, bell pepper, poblano pepper, and onion with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Transfer corn mixture to one of the baking sheets; spread into a single layer.
    3. Remove salmon from marinade and arrange on second baking sheet. Drizzle corn mixture with remaining salmon marinade. Season salmon and corn with salt and black pepper to taste and roast 8 to 10 minutes, until fish is just cooked through and vegetables are tender.
    4. Mix together sour cream, cilantro, and remaining lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Spoon corn onto plates and add salmon. Drizzle cream over fish.
    See More

    Saturday, December 17

    I Confess..

    So we are what 2 weeks away from Christmas? Tis the Season to Be Jolly, should be Tis the Season to Gain the Pounds..with all the baked goodies, high fat foods, comfort foods, and even cocktails, out there right now how can we not.  I admit, I am huge sugar junkie, a closet snacker (candy is my drug of choice) or it was up until October  (steeling the candy from the kid's trick treat bags then was like having to go on a Black Ops undercover mission) ridden with guilt. 

    Friday, December 16


    You know those Orange Peels or Lemon Halves we see sitting around when we are done with the citrus? Well here are some great tips you can do to make good of these things...

    Gremolata - Take and cut 1 cup of Flat Leaf Parsley and transfer into a bowl, add 1 tbls. finely grated lemon zest and 1 clove minced garlic...sprinkle this over simmering stews, braised meats to add freshness.

    Orange Sugar - Take one Orange and cut into length wise strips of zest....bury the strips in a jar of granulated sugar. Store this in an airtight container in a dark space for 2 weeks before you open. Use the sugar (always small amounts) in whipped cream, yogurt or cakes, etc..

    Grilled Lemon Halves - Cut Lemons into halves and grill cut side down to carmalize their sugar and mellow the acidity (no grill) then heat 1 tbsp (light) oil in a skillet, heat and sear...Squeeze the warm lemon juice over chicken, steak...etc...what you can think of.

    Citrus Chips - On a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange thin Citrus slices (single layer). Bake at 175* until they are dried, 2-3 hours. Cool and store in airtight container at room temp. Use these as a garnish or even dip in chocolate.

    - Finely grate zest onto a sheet of parchment paper and microwave 1-2 min. until dry, let cool. Store the zest airtight at room temp. Use to stir into breadcrumbs, sauces, salt or even ground pepper.

    Sunday, December 11

    Velvety Squash Soup

    Two types of squash offer fuller, more rounded flavor--the earthiness of acorn squash offsets the sweetness of butternut--but you can use all of one type, if you prefer. Raw winter squash is tough to peel and dice, so we call for roasting the squash halves first, then scooping out the tender pulp.

    1 (3-pound) butternut squash

  • 1 (2-pound) acorn squash

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

  • 5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

  • 2/3 cup apple cider

  • 2 tablespoons molasses

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

  • 2/3 cup half-and-half

  • Chopped fresh thyme (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 425°.

  • Cut each squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place squash, cut sides down, on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.

  • Combine onion and oil, tossing to coat. Spread onion mixture onto pan around squash. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until squash and onion are tender. Cool slightly. Scoop out squash pulp from skins; discard skins.

  • Place onion and squash pulp in a Dutch oven. Stir in broth and the next 5 ingredients (through pepper); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.

  • Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan; stir in half-and-half. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish with thyme, if desired.

  • Roasted Beet, Avocado and WaterCress Salad

    This dish features holiday colors and a variety of textures, from crisp watercress and crunchy pecans to juicy oranges and buttery avocados. To make the most of the presentation, use a combination of red and yellow beets. You can prepare the beets and dressing in advance, then just assemble the salad before serving. 
    6 large red or yellow beets (about 4 1/2 pounds)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind

  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice

  • 3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil

  • 2 1/4 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large avocado, peeled

  • bunches watercress (about 9 cups trimmed)

  • 3 cups orange sections (about 3 large navel oranges)

  • 3/4 cup vertically sliced red onion

  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

  • Preparation
    1. Preheat oven to 375°.
    2. Remove root and 1 inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Cut beets in half; place beets in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Add water. Cover with foil, and bake at 375° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool; rub off skins. Cut beets into 1/2-inch slices.
    3. Combine rind and next 6 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl. Toss half of juice mixture with beets.
    4. Cut avocado in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 12 slices. Place watercress on a platter; top with beets, orange sections, onion, and avocado. Drizzle remaining juice mixture over salad, and top with pecans. Serve immediately

    Saturday, December 3

    Well Thanksgiving has come and gone... and now with  just weeks away from Christmas, there seems to be so much going on (as if we don't have enough on our plates this time of year)....The week prior to Thanksgiving started off with the unexpected arrival of our 20 year old needing to "move home" for a while, what is a parent to do and especially at holiday season..So we made a space for him on the floor of his younger brother's room, then squished all the clothes that came along with him into the now shared closet...I never knew a 20 year old man had so many clothes! Then it hit me, even though our two younger children who still live at home (ages 11 and 9) have their own bathroom, they never use the tub or shower in there, they use ours...(why would I want to clean an extra shower)? Well so much for only cleaning one shower...

    Being the "control freak" that I am, I have now taken on the extra task of feeding and cooking for another person, packing lunches for him to take to work, and doing his laundry ( I know, I can hear the words from you now) but it must be that high energy I have and the need to be the "do it all" mom and wife syndrome...

    So moving forward, Thanksgiving came and went....I woke early like all of you, and went to work to create my famous "Gourmet/Food and Wine" version of a Thanksgiving meal...this is my one meal a year that I take complete control of, and love it...I research the recipes weeks prior, and sticking with the Fitnessmom theme, I make sure they are healthy and low cal enough to be able to enjoy the meal without the quilt and wanting to fall into a coma afterwards.  I carefully cut and paste every item to match the picture, creating my version of a work board.  Of course the house is always open to the neighbors and visiting friends to pop on over for the ohhhh so needed Bloody Mary's...(after all the family will arrive at some point)...and then it's time, we all gather and the hours pass, the day has actually gone off without a hitch this year...

    Moving to current time, another new addition to the home (and family) Stryker, our new 7 month old Pomeranian/Chihuahua...You see one of the other things I had taken on, was walking this sweet little guy once a day for a friend, who after 2 months had asked my husband and I if we would like to give him a home...you know, since we have kids and I am home all day anyway, instead of leaving him in his crate...He has been here two weeks and this coming from a cat person, it has been so wonderful, he is a great addition to the home and we just love him (and his small size).  We take him everywhere with us, I have now become one of those people who drive around with their small dog sitting next to them in the seat....Good Lord...

    All this and keeping up with Fitnessmom (my facebook page) ....not only reminding people to take care of their bodies, but also how to eat "real food", eat healthy, this is the time of year that we get completely carried away with all the goodies around us, my job is to hopefully help those out there that are listening and following me...

    With everything that has gone on in just a few short weeks, I have had to really learn to keep reminding myself to find my "mentally happy"...it has been tough and stressful, a few meltdowns and anxiety attacks, but nothing like a good workout at least once a day to help fix that, whether it is a run, yoga, kick boxing, weightlifting, working out to a DVD, etc. we need to remember to stop (especially during the stressful times) and take care of ourselves....being "physically healthy" and "mentally healthy"...that is the key to successful living :)