Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Spinach Almond Stuffed Mushrooms

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After work yesterday I had a fun trip to town to do some shopping at the Salvage Store. This is a great place that sells dented, overstock and almost expired products. I know some people have issues with shopping for food at these kind of stores, but I have no hangups at all. It is a great place for food shopping for cheap! All you have to do is take the time to look at the dates on packages. Being that I spend extra time looking at sodium content anyways, I don’t find it cumbersome at all to check dates if it means I get good deals.

One of the things I love about our local Salvage store is that they have a produce section. Every Wednesday they get in various vegetables, bags of salad, fruit, and yogurts. It is always different items, so it is hit and miss as to if they will have things I want or need.  This week was a great week! They had tons of packages of spinach for 99 cents each, 3lb bags of apples 2 for $3, and 5 lb boxes of mushrooms for $3! I also scored crumpets that I like to toast for breakfast, that have only 90 calories and 100mg sodium. Great alternative to english muffins. The freezer section was also a wealth of Steamables, microwave veggies and rices., I am fully stocked with white rice, peas, corn, and brussel sprouts that will be easy to toss in the microwave at work or on the inevitable nights i work late.

Since I now had 5lbs of mushrooms to contend with, it quickly became a day of cooking mushroom dishes! I did a wonderful pot of mushroom vegetable soup. I used low sodium vegetable stock, all spice and coconut milk to make a great broth with a lovely asian flavor, added snap peas, baby carrots, and large chunks of mushrooms. Simmered for 2 hours and added a whole bag of kelp noodles. This whole pot of soup only used about one pound of the mushrooms, so I moved on to a fun new stuffed mushroom!

Spinach, Bell Pepper, Almond Stuffed Mushroom.

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I started with 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup chopped vidalia onion, 3 tbsp chopped garlic. Saute the onions and garlic in a skillet until nicely browned.

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Remove tops and seeds from approx 10 mini sweet bell peppers and chop or put in a food chopper to get a fine chop texture.Add to the skillet of garlic and onion and continue to saute. While this is cooking wash and remove the stems of mushrooms. My mushrooms are father large so I used 24 of them. If you have smaller button mushrooms you can prep as many as you want to and adjust the mixture accordingly.

I placed the mushroom stems and 1 1/2 cups of raw unsalted almond slivers in the food processor and make a fine ground. Place in a bowl and put to the side.

Add 3 cups fresh spinach in the skillet with the onion and pepper mix and cover to let the spinach heat and begin to wilt. You can also stir it all together to speed the wilting process. When the first 3 cups have wilted and there is room in the skillet add another 3 cups of spinach and repeat the wilting process.

While the spinach is cooking, mix 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/8 cup salt free herb seasoning mix, 1 1/5 cups matzo crumbs (i use matzo farfel because it is sodium free, you can use bread crumbs or panko if you like). Grind in the food processor to a fine crumb mixture and put in the bowl with the ground mushroom and almonds.

Add the hot spinach and pepper mix to the bowl and mix all the ingredients together to make a nice stuffing texture..

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Use a spoon ans generously stuff your clean mushroom caps and place in a casserole dish, I made a large batch so I filled 2 lasagna trays. Sprinkle the tops of the mushrooms with Parmesan cheese.

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Cover the dish with foil and place in a 300 degree oven. If cooking large mushrooms like mine, they will take about 1 1/2 hours. If you stuffed smaller mushrooms they will only take about 45 minutes. Just keep and eye on them and cook until the caps are cooked all the way through. When they are almost finished cooking, remove the foil and let brown in the oven for the last 15 minutes.

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I was very happy with the outcome of this dish. The large mushrooms I did consist of about 75 calories each and only 45mg of sodium! You can eat a whole plate full and feel no guilt!

I paired 3 of them with freshly roasted brussel sprouts and broccoli for dinner!

Hope you enjoy this mushroom as much as I do! I love a good stuffed mushroom. I have so many variations on stuffed mushrooms, I could do a cookbook just on mushroom stuffing!

Enjoy all the flavor, with none of the salt! Your taste buds and heart will thank you!!

Oscar Night Guilt Free Nachos

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Oscar Night Guilt Free Nachos

I was walking this morning and trying to decide on something fun to make to snack on tonight while watching the Oscars! I usually will just do white air popped popcorn with salt free seasoning. But I think tonight needs a fun snack!

I decided on some yummy guilt free nachos! Super easy and of course low in sodium!

Depending on the size you are feeding just adjust portions accordingly. I am just cooking for me so I baked it in a small loaf size pan.

First I put in a layer of low sodium tortilla chips. I use Marine Coast Vegetables Sea Chips, they get their slight salt flavor from seaweed and kelp instead of salt, so they are only 65mg sodium per 17 chip serving.

Top the layer in 1/2oz of finely shredded Swiss cheese. Then add another layer of chips and 1/2oz of Swiss cheese.

Place in 250 degree oven for approx 10 min to heat and melt the cheese.

While the chips are in the oven, chop 1/4 cup fresh tomato, 1/4 cup low sodium sour dill spears, and 10 Santa Barbara Olive Co. Low sodium black olives.

Take chips out of the oven and top with chopped mixture and spoon on top 2tbsp Walden Farms Bacon Vegetable dip.

The tray I made is about 2 servings, calories per serving is 245, and even better is the low sodium of 227mg per serving!!

I dare you to find a low sodium nacho with this much flavor and fun for you next snack night!!

If you find one be sure to let me know 😉

Saturday Afternoon Veggie Roast

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Saturday Afternoon Veggie Roast

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On a lovely Saturday afternoon, with the breeze blowing through the open windows and the sound of cows in the back ground, it is a great time to toss and roast a variety of fresh veggies to snack on!

I have found this to be the easiest salt free healthy snack to give me the sensory crunch that is can snack on all day without guilt. I do a whole tray full and then put in a Tupperware container and just leave on the counter to snack on all day as I do stuff around the house.

What can be easier than this:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Cut fresh veggies to medium chunks. You can use anything you like. Today I did baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts!

Toss the veggies in 1tbsp of oil, I prefer coconut oil but you can use any oil you like! I have used peanut oil also for a fun taste.

Once the veggies are coated lightly in oil, I like to sprinkle with salt free seasoning. Today I used Mrs. Dash Caribbean blend. There are so many good salt free blends that it is almost limitless possibilities of flavor.

Spread the coated seasoned veggies on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Place in oven and roast until desired doneness. I like a little crisp on mine, so I leave them in for about 30-40 min, until the smaller pieces start to blacken on the edges.

Take them out and let cool until you can eat them. I like them just by themselves, but you can use any dip also if you like! Walden farms make a couple good calorie free, carb free, gluten free dips, but they do contain sodium so best to use just a little bit of them if your diet is very sodium restrictive like mine.

HAPPY SATURDAY AND ENJOY!!

Calculate Heart Attack Risk

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Do you know how these controllable risk factors affect your risk of heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome?

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • being overweight or obese
  • physical inactivity

It’s essential that you measure your risk of heart disease and make a plan for how to prevent it in the near future. Use this tool to help you assess your risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease in the next 10 years. It will also check to see if you may have metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that greatly increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke and diabetes. This Risk Assessment can be use by people age 20 or older who do not already have heart disease or diabetes.

After you have finished using the tool, you can print a copy of your risk assessment results, risk factor summary report, metabolic syndrome assessment and action plans for those areas you need to work on in order to reduce your risk.

Learn your Risk Graphic Text

 

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/HeartAttackToolsResources/Heart-Attack-Risk-Assessment_UCM_303944_Article.jsp

One of my favorite snacks

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How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

Posted by Elise on Apr 16, 2007

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

I can imagine, that if you didn’t grow up eating artichokes and if you were encountering them for the first time, they might seem a little intimidating. How one cooks and eats an artichoke is not obvious from its appearance. If you’ve always wondered how to cook and eat the darn things, here are the steps:

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How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes

METHOD

How to Cook an Artichoke

1. If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the leaves. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.

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2. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.

3. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.

4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively you can cut off the stems and peel the outside layers which is more fibrous and bitter and cook the stems along with the artichokes.

5. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water.

artichoke-3.jpg6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Note: artichokes can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 15-20 minutes cooking time). Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is, the larger, the longer it takes to cook.

How to Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I think they are much better hot. They are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonaise. My favorite dip is mayo with a little bit of balsamic vinegar mixed in.

1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.

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2. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.

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Continue until all of the petals are removed.

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3. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.

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Cardiovascular Disease and Fitness

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Cardiovascular Disease and Fitness

In addition to following a healthy diet and incorporating important heart nutrients, you must also exercise to maintain the health of your heart. Exercise can help you prevent as well as reverse heart disease.

According to the American Heart Association, you should include a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, three to four days a week.

Why is exercise important?
Many studies have proven conclusively that making improvements to and maintaining your physical fitness will significantly lower your risk of developing heart disease and all other illnesses. Put simply, regular exercise keeps your body in a healthy condition, and a healthy body can ward off disease much better than an unconditioned one.

Let’s take a look at the various types of exercise and why it can improve your health:

Aerobic Exercise
The word aerobic means “oxygen-producing”, and as such aerobic exercise stimulates the production of oxygen. Aerobic exercises include those where you are in motion including walking, running, biking, swimming, etc., exercises which make your heart rate increase for an extended period of time.

When your heart rate increases, this means more blood is being circulated around your body, providing necessary oxygen to your cells and tissues. Regular aerobic exercise is very important for maintaining heart health.

Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercise comprises short-lived, intense bursts such as sprints and weight lifting. Whereas aerobic exercise is best for cardiovascular strength and endurance, anaerobic exercise is best for muscle strength and flexibility. This will help you maintain your health and avoid injury.

Should you do aerobic or anaerobic exercise?
Although it depends on the time you can allot to exercise each day, we recommend a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise if possible. This way you can improve your cardiovascular health as well as increase your muscle strength. Adding stretching to your routine will also warm up and loosen your muscles so you can avoid injury.

Following are the many benefits of a regular exercise routine. It’s easy to see why exercise is so important:

1. Improving cardiovascular efficiency – heart & lung functioning.

2. Improving strength and endurance.

3. Increasing energy levels and metabolism.

4. Relieving stress and tension.

5. Increasing range of motion and flexibility.

TIPS AND TRICKS

1. Before you start any exercise program, consult your physician to make sure you don’t have any heart conditions or other health problems that might prevent you from safely performing certain exercises. Your physician also might be able to recommend a program that is right for you.

2. Set aside time each week to exercise, and make sure you are consistent. Try to work out at least 30 minutes 3-4 times per week, with a combination of aerobic and anaerobic activities (i.e. running on the treadmill and lifting weights).

3. Start slow! Don’t rush into an exercise program. Rather, take your time and ease into it, increasing your time, intensity and/or weights gradually as you go along. You will see much better results like this, rather than going overboard with it.

4. Make sure you stretch before and after exercising. It is important that you warm up before you begin any activity, and cool down once you are finished. if you do not adequately stretch your muscles before and after you exercise, you will be much more susceptible to injury or muscle tearing. We recommend 5-10 minutes of warming up before you begin, and at least another 5 minutes of cooling down post workout.

5. Keep water with you at all times, make sure you are hydrated throughout your workout.

6. Maintain a steady workout regimen. Sporadic workouts are not the way to go about it. Stick to a schedule. Also, make sure you maintain a heart healthy diet and include important heart nutrients to improve and maintain your heart health.

Fruit Lables

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Talking Fruit

How to de-code the information on those little stickers
By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder for PlanTea, Inc. and
Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul

While unpacking groceries, you pull out the bag of apples and decide to eat one then and there. You take it over to the sink, wash it off and — with some effort — peel off the little sticker. Pausing to look more closely at the sticker you wonder, “What do those numbers mean?”

As much as we may dislike them, the stickers or labels attached to fruit do more than speed up the scanning process at the checkout stand. The PLU code, or price lookup number printed on the sticker, tells you how the fruit was grown.

As reported by Maria Gallagher, in the June 26, 2002 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, by reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced withchemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here’s how it works:

For conventionally grown fruit, (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically engineered (GM) fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 8. For example,

A conventionally grown banana would be:
4011

An organic banana would be:
94011

A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be:
84011

The numeric system was developed by the Produce Electronic Identification Board, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association, a Newark, Delaware-based trade group for the produce industry. As of October 2001, the board had assigned more than 1,200 PLUs for individual produce items.

Incidentally, the adhesive used to attach the stickers is considered food-grade, but the stickers themselves aren’t edible.

Do you REALLY know what’s in your dinner?

Today, 7 out of every 10 items on grocery stores shelves contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. In other words, scientists are using new technology to transfer the genes of one species to another, and these altered foods are in the market stream. And yet many scientists have concerns about the safety — to people, wildlife and the environment — of this process. That’s why consumers in Asia and Europe are demanding that their food be free of genetically modified ingredients.

To learn more about food safety, GM (genetically modified) foods and what’s wrong with them, and what you can do bring about changes:

Vegetarian Mushroom Burger

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I had fun today, got experimental and made burger patties out of mushrooms. I read somewhere that you can use mushrooms in place of ground beef, so i decided to have a go at burgers! They came out delicious, I may prefer them to the ground beef burgers. Next we will have to try them on the barbecue grill and see how they hold up.

I was only cooking for myself tonight, so this is just the ingredients for one burger. Increase according to the servings desired.

Ingredients:

1 cup Mushroom

1/4 cup Panko

1 tsp horseradish mustard

1 tbsp onion flakes

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp Fortner’s #75 blend

1 egg white

 

Use a knife and hand chop or use a food processor to finely chop the mushroom. In a bowl add panko, seasonings, mustard and egg white and mix thoroughly until fully combined. Form into a patty.

Heat a skillet on medium heat and spray with butter cooking spray.  Cook patty until browned and crispy one each side.

At this point you might want to melt cheese on the patty or grill onions to top the burger. You can also eat the burger patty with lettuce or cabbage wrap instead of a bun.

Spice Blends for Any Dish

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I feel a great need to introduce you to the Fortner’s Spice Blends! These 5 different blends have become a regular in many of the dishes being made in our kitchen. Thanks to my Fortner’s blends and the many varieties of Mrs. Dash, you don’t have to be a master of making your own seasoning blends for your dishes. many people are kitchen novices and aren’t highly knowledgeable of spice flavors and combinations of flavor profiles. No mater if you are baking fish, Barbecuing steak, making meatloaf, or just want to spice up some vegetables, there is a mix right for the job. I get the whole collection at the Healthy Heart Market . You can buy them individually or in a pack with all the options together for one price. They cost $3.95-$4.15 each, which you find to be the same as most jars of spices in the market. You can get all 5 in a pack for $18.45 or a 4 pack of the blends (excluding #1) for $14.80.

FORTNER’S #1

All Natural, No Additives & just 10 mg salt per serving

 Nutrition Facts:
Serving size 1/4 TSP (0.5 g)
Servings per container Approx. 86
Amount per serving:
Calories 0
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 10 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Protein 0g
Ingredients: Contains a top quality blend of dehydrated vegetables, celery, yeast extract, spinach, parsley, onion, garlic, herbs, spices and silicon dioxide (to prevent caking).

FORTNERS #37

This salt-free blend is a perfect complement to poultry, pork, and vegetable dishes, skillet frying, and stir-frying.
This salt-free blend is a perfect complement to poultry, pork, and vegetable dishes, skillet frying, and stir-frying.
Fortners Seasonings are formulated by Fortner’s Products from Lake Mills, WI.
All Natural, Salt Free, No Additives.
Serving size 1/4 TSP (0.5 g)
Servings per container Approx. 70
Amount per serving:
Calories 0
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Protein 0g
Ingredients: A special blend of garlic, paprika, bayleaf, onion, oregano, celery, thyme, sage, allspice, basil, rosemary, marjoram and pepper.

Fortner’s #55

Blend #55 is great with steak, beef, chicken and pork. Great for bar-b-que, broiling, baking, and microwaving.

All Natural, Salt Free, No Additives
Nutrition Facts:
Serving size 1/4 TSP (0.5 g)
Servings per container Approx. 86
Amount per serving:
Calories 0
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Protein 0g

Ingredients: A special blend of garlic, celery, basil, ginger, paprika, bay leaf, lemon, parsley, coriander, sage, allspice and pepper.

FORTNERS #75

Perfect for Hamburger, Meatloaf, Casserole Dishes, Ground Meat, and Stews.

All Natural, Salt Free, No Additives.
Serving size 1/4 TSP (0.5 g)
Servings per container Approx. 70
Amount per serving:
Calories 0
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Protein 0g
Ingredients: A special blend of celery, garlic, oregano, allspice, paprika, bayleaf, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage and pepper

 

FORTNER’S #89

Great for fish, salad, seafood, egg dishes and sauces.

All Natural, Salt Free, No Additives.
Nutrition Facts:
Serving size 1/4 TSP (0.5 g)
Servings per container Approx. 56
Amount per serving:
Calories 0
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Protein 0g
Ingredients: A special blend of dill, lemon, paprika, rosemary, allspice, basil, fennel, bayleaf, garlic and pepper.

 

 

Honey Mustard Dill Chicken

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I officially made it through the first week of school without any major problems. Adjusting to the extra work is harder then I thought, but it is all falling into place. I have managed to walk with my dog a mile every day. Tomorrow is the 1st, and I have planned to extend the walk to 2 miles! I have been doing the 1 mile walk for 2 weeks now, so I think I am ready to up the distance. I will take it easy, and of course have my phone, in case there are any problems. I am so happy with the progress I have made so far. I finally broke the 280 mark, my weight is down to 278. That is down 32 pounds from when I got home from the hospital January 6th. I have officially been free of alcohol, cigarettes, salt and caffeine for 122 days. Hard to think back to just one month ago, I could barely get down the driveway to the mail box. It is amazing what a difference good nutrition, good doctors,  positive attitude and a spiritual foundation can make! 

I have fallen behind on posting here, but I also have fallen behind on making fun food. Have to admit there have been a few nights of salads, and bowls of fruit. 

This meal however was super yummy, and pretty easy! 

Ingredients for 2 servings:

8oz boneless skinless chicken breast tenders

1tbsp Honey mustard

1 tbsp dill 

1tbsp greek yogurt

1 cup White rice

1 cup Summer squash slices

Mix the greek yogurt, dill and honey mustard together and coat the chicken tenders. Place in covered container in fridge and let flavors mingle for about an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375° place chicken tenders on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 min depending on size, turning once. Always cook chicken until there is no pink left in the middle.

The rice is just prepared as indicated on package, and topped with spray butter and pepper. The Summer squash is sliced about 1/2 inch thick and grilled in a skillet that has been sprayed with butter flavor cooking spray. I love the flavor of summer squash so I choose not to season them, just let the natural grilled flavor come through. This is one easy, healthy and low calorie meal.