Archive for the 'Cooking' Category

Eggs aren’t just for Easter

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We all know that eggs are good for us because they are a great source for protein. And with Easter coming up this weekend, I have had eggs (and bunnies) on my mind. Besides their protein, there are plenty of other reasons to make sure eggs are a part of your diet on a regular basis. Since I am leaving for vacation today, I have spent the last few days trying to use up all of food at my apartment. All I have been eating is fruit, vegetables, and eggs. I even referred to myself as a rabbit the other day because I have been eating so many plants. So there’s the bunny rabbit thing again!

While trying to use up all of my food has seemed kind of like a chore, at least I know I am getting some crazy good health benefits from all of these ridiculously healthy foods. I always try to eat somewhat healthy, but it is not always easy. I have found that buying a bunch of healthy food that will go bad if I don’t eat it really helps. Anyways, the real reason I’m here is to share the other amazing health benefits that you will get from including eggs as a part of your regular diet.

Not only will eggs give you an awesome protein boost, but they will also provide you with vitamins a, b5, b12, b2, folate, phosphorus, selenium, and a handful of other nutrients. Long story short, eggs contain a little bit of all of your essential nutrients and vitamins. And despite common beliefs, eggs will not actually raise your blood cholesterol. It will actually work to raise your good cholesterol though. Having an elevated level of good cholesterol will decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke, along with other health conditions. One of these health benefits that surprised me is that eggs will actually help to maintain your eye health. This is because the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which build protein in the retina of the eye are found in eggs. These are only a few of the health benefits eggs have, and you can find more information about it here.

Bottom line is, eating eggs on a regular basis will provide you with a myriad of health benefits. Another awesome thing about eggs is there seems to be an endless amount of ways to prepare them, so you can’t really get bored from eating too many eggs.

 

Alicia Diedrich

 

Spring recipe: Stuffed avocados

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Over my spring break, I spent a couple nights making deliciously healthy recipes with my family. Along with what seems like everyone, we have had a slight avocado obsession in the past few months. We went from eating avocado toast, to turkey lettuce wraps with avocado, and even to stuffed avocados. Since they were so healthy and delicious I decided to share the recipe! I want to make this recipe again soon (because I may or may not have eaten five chocolate chip cookies while writing this).

 

To make these beautiful stuffed avocados, you need:

1 avocado, halved and pitted

1 (4.5 ounce) can oil packed albacore tuna, drained

¼ cup diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno

¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon of lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

When I made this at home with my family, we doubled the recipe because there was three of us eating, it worked out perfectly, so you can make this as a meal for your family, or stick to the original proportions above to make a healthy lunch just for yourself.

First, scoop the avocado out into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Then, add the tuna, red bell pepper, and jalapeno to the mixing bowl. (Pro tip: I added about twice as much jalapeno as I was supposed to and still did not find it spicy, so if you like some spice, do not be afraid to add more, a lot more.) Next, pour the lime juice over the top, and mix all of the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper (just like with the jalapeno, I was not shy with the salt and pepper. Then all you have to do is put your avocado and tuna concoction back into the avocado bowls and garnish with cilantro!

The best part about this recipe was that it was easy, fun, healthy and tasty! It was also filling, so there was no desire to munch on unhealthy snacks the rest of the night. You can easily customize the recipe by adding tons of jalapenos like I did, or substituting the jalapenos and red peppers for different kinds of peppers, onions, or whatever else you happen to have sitting around. One of my favorite parts of cooking and putting recipes together is experimenting with them and having some fun! I hope you enjoy the stuffed avocados as much as I did!
Alicia Diedrich

A healthier you and a healthier Earth

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There are so many reasons to adapt a healthier eating regimen, but let me add this one to the list. Eating healthier not only helps you be healthier, but it also helps our planet out, too.

When the New Year rolled around a few months ago, I had to think long about a New Year’s resolution that I wouldn’t quit on after only a few weeks or a month. My final consensus was to no longer eat red meat. And this was not an easy sacrifice to make, either, especially because my grandfather is a commercial beef farmer, and my house is riddled with frozen pounds of delicious steaks and hamburgers. I wanted to start making a positive change and serve as an example, too, so I went ahead and gave it up anyway.

In 2011, a non-profit in Washington D.C., the Environmental Working Group, conducted a study on how the types of meat we consume impacts the environment based on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through the industry per kilogram of the meat consumed. Lamb meat was ranked the worst for the environment, spitting out about 86.6 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram of meat.

I don’t eat a lot of lamb, so giving up that type of meat was easy and not all that impactful in my opinion. Beef came in second worse, according to the study, producing 59.5 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram. Then pork, at 26.5 pounds. And chicken showed to be the most environmentally friendly meat, producing only 15. 5 pounds of greenhouse gases per kilogram eaten.

These numbers were enough to make me reconsider my food choices. Along with the well-known fact that chicken is much learner that beef. Since beef is so high in fat and cholesterol, if consumed too regularly, it can lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and other fat-related diseases. It only made sense to me to discontinue my hamburger obsession and turn to turkey burgers.

Along with the greenhouse gas issue, meat also takes a toll on the supply and demand for clean water. Throughout the farming processes, we have to keep in mind the plant side of what goes into maintaining livestock. In order to keep cows, you have to feed them. In order to feed them, you have to grow corn and soybeans. These plants then require watering, and many farmers use pesticides and herbicides in order to ensure their harvest. This creates toxic run off and toxic soil, affecting all living organisms around these plants, eventually dwindling down to affecting us. So when it came to the choice to set aside a steak or poison the ground we walk on, I couldn’t choose the latter.

Now, in no way am I a vegetarian, and in no way do I condemn anyone who just can’t separate from his or her steak. I feel you. But it doesn’t have to be to beef or not to beef. It is more of a how-often-do-you-eat-it kind of ordeal. By choosing beef less often, by only eating it once or twice a week, we could reduce greenhouse gas emission, land and water use by up to 45 percent. On top of that, we’d be investing in our own health, helping us breath in fewer harmful toxins in the air, purifying our water and consuming less fat. Eating less red meat is a win-win — a happier, healthier you and me and a happier, healthier planet and future.

Some healthy holiday cheer (cookies, duh!)

12-days-of-cookies_lemon-012_s4x3-jpg-rend-sni12col-landscapeLife around the holidays always gets hectic. But I think we can agree that it is the good kind of hectic. Christmas is so full of treats and presents, though, it cane hard to approach the month of December without thinking about the massive lack of wellness that could come from celebrating all the Christmas cheer.

If you are anything like me, you know that the most wonderful time of the year is not complete without cookies, so I dug up one of my favorite healthy cookie recipes that I love to deck the halls with. These ricotta cookies have so much cheer and are also on the healthier side that maybe they will help even Santa keep his weight down this holiday season.

Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients
Cookies:
2 and a half cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 zested lemon peel
Glaze:
1 and a half cups of powdered sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 zested lemon peel

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To Make the Cookies:
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then put this bowl to the side for later.
In another larger bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until airy and fluffy for around 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until you can’t see them anymore. Then mix in the ricotta cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until mixed together and then stir in the dry ingredients.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container to achieve ultimate cheer.

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I love Thanksgiving. It provides a much needed long weekend away from classes, and it allows me to spend time with my family. We all bond over watching football and eating delicious food, while reminiscing over the past year. Today I wanted to give some great advice on how you can enjoy the beginning of the holiday season while also emphasizing wellness in your lifestyle.

Stay Active
This is the one I have most trouble with when it comes to holidays and vacations. I find myself sleeping in late and having family obligations all day and all night. This can be easily fixed by waking up a bit earlier than usual and doing a light work out to prepare you for the long day ahead. It can be as short as 20 minutes! But getting out and waking your body up will translate to an increased mood and better feeling overall.

Tip: Find a Turkey Trot in your area and recruit family members to join you!

Watch what you eat
It is so important to be mindful of what, and how much, you eat during thanksgiving. It is such a food-centric holiday that many people (myself included) can get lost in the type and the amount of food being consumed. Research shows that when given a smaller plate to use, people eat less calories on average. You also want to be mindful of the problem foods such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. These are all delicious, but if you aren’t careful, you could be on serving number 4 before you know it. Beer is another Thanksgiving favorite, but just remember that an average 12 liter can has 150 calories, those can add up quick.

Tip: Eat a light breakfast when you wake up. It will fuel your morning workout as well as curb some of your appetite, which means your first serving won’t be as massive.

Thanksgiving isn’t about restricting yourself or feeling bad about how much you ate, but it can be very beneficial to think before eating. Get out and toss a football around, get a good night sleep, and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. The holidays are a time to be happy and be well, so make the best of it!

-Ben Eccles

Fall Recipe: Lemon Crab Linguine

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So crab might not be what you had in mind when it comes to delicious fall foods, but if you haven’t tried to mix it in some of your everyday dishes, you might be missing out. Crab brings so many interesting tastes and options to the table. It’s super healthy, offers a bunch of protein with little to no fat. The sweet taste also compliments spicy dishes, flavorful dishes and light dishes. Here is a favorite crab recipe of mine, to get you started on the crab kick this fall. Before you know it, this seafood could become an everyday dish, too.

Ingredients

  • 13 ounces of spinach linguini
  • 13 ounces of  white crab meat
  • 1 long red chili, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Grated zest (lemon peel) of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of torn basil leaves
  • Juice of half of a lemon

Make it!

  1. Boil a large saucepan of salted water. Add the pasta to the pan, stir well and boil on high for around 8-10 minutes, or until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the crabmeat, chili, crushed garlic and lemon zest in a bowl. Stir the extra virgin olive oil into the mixture, and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well with a fork to make the crab meet flaky.
  3. Drain the cooked pasta and put it back into the saucepan. Add the crab mixture, basil leaves and lemon juice, and stir well!
  4. Drizzle with a little more extra olive oil, if desired in order to keep moisture. Taste and add extra lemon juice if you want a more lemony taste. Dig in!

Summer Cookout Series: Chocolate Pretzel Bars

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Photo via Julie Craig

Well, would you look at that. We are already at the last week of July! Since this month is coming to an end, I want to share with you my favorite way to end any meal – dessert. And since we are still talking about summer cookouts, I dug up one of my favorite picnic desserts and tweaked it just a tad to make it a little bit healthier.

This gooey, chocolatey, pretzel-filled dessert has all the ingredients to appease any kind of cookout guest. Take on a sweet tooth with the melty chocolate and satisfy the salt-lover with the chunks of pretzels bursting from every bite. These pleasing pretzel bars are the perfect way to end the party.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups of whole grain wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
One 12-ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of crushed cocoa nibs
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped mini quinoa pretzels
2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with parchment or wax paper, allowing overhang on the edges of the pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a larger bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed until light, so only beat it for about 1 minute. Then add  in the eggs and vanilla and beat again. At a lower speed,  now beat in the dry ingredients. After, stir in the chips, nibs and pretzels by hand.
  3. Spread this concoction in the pan and dust the top with the mini chocolate sprinkles. Bake for a half an hour until golden and the center should still be still be a little gooey. Let cool completely. Just pull on the parchment paper to get the bars out of the pan. Cut them up and enjoy!

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