Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: The Low-Fat Trap

In the early days of tracking my food intake, I clearly remember focusing mainly on the fat content. After all, the fat must be what makes us fat, right? I would go directly to the food label and if it was low-fat or fat free...it was good to go. No attention was paid to serving size, calories, nutritional value or carbohydrate count. It was almost as if the words "fat free" translated to "Eat as much as you want, Lindsay." The focus was fat and as long as I kept it low, I was going to be able to maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight. Oh boy, was I wrong!

In fact, this so-called healthy low-fat diet was having the adverse effect. The foods I was reaching for were typically high in carbohydrates and calories and lacking in essential nutrients such as proteins and fats. Instead of choosing a satisfying snack like celery with peanut butter, I would go for 4-6 Snackwell's fat free chocolate cookies. Steering away from what I believed to be evil fatty peanut butter (I know better now) was actually causing me to consume more calories and carbohydrates. It's no wonder I would consume all these low-fat foods and still not lose weight; sometimes even gain it. It is all about calories in and calories out. Just because something is fat free doesn't mean you can eat the whole package. If we consume more than we use, we gain weight. My "low-fat" plan was high in carbohydrates; particularly processed sugars. Plus, the idea that low-fat or fat free meant Icould have as much as I wanted was way off.

So, the lesson to be taken from my experiences with low-fat eating: Focus on whole the food, not just the fat. Foods low in fat are what we should be looking for most of the time, but they must also be high in nutritional value. Don't opt for Twizzlers over almonds just because they are a "low fat candy". We need moderate amounts of healthy fats, like those found in almonds, in order to maintain a balanced diet. Consider all aspects of the food (calories, carbs, serving size, protein, etc.) before making a decision. And remember, everything is best in moderation. Even if they are "fat free".

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cooking Light with Giada De Laurentiis: Pizzettes with Gorgonzola, Tomato and Basil

Oh, do I have a very "Happy Holiday" appetizer for you this season! One of the best parts about it; it flaunts the red, white and green colors of Christmas. I love it when the food matches the occasion, don't you?
So, this fabulous appetizer recipe is a healthy take on Giada De Laurentiis's recipe for Pizzettes with Gorgonzola, Tomato and Basil. I know! YUM! Well, I promise that these babies taste even better than they sound. The are simple (only taking 15 minutes), delicious, nutritious and B-E-A-UTIFUL; sure to please your holiday guests. Here's all you need to know...

Serves 8


Rustic Crust used in this recipe.
1 large "ready-to-bake" WHOLE WHEAT pizza crust (Suggested: Rustic Crust

3 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled

4 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut in half 

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Cut the pizza crust into bite size pieces. Evenly top each piece with just a pinch of Gorgonzola. Then gently press a halved cherry tomato into the cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle the pizzettes with EVOO and sprinkle with fresh basil. Arrange pizzettes on a cute platter and serve right away!


As you can see, I didn't fiddle with the cheese in this recipe too much. We are still using the full-on, whole fat version of Gorgonzola. "Why?" you may ask. Well, first of all, I couldn't find a "light" version of it. Normally that may deter me, but not this time. Considering how little is used and the number of servings this recipe makes, I felt this recipe could be an exception for using real cheese. I did add just a tiny bit of shredded Parm to mine, but that is entirely up to you. It doesn't need it, but when given the choice, my family always votes for more cheese.

The major change comes with the crust choice. Instead of using regular refrigerated dough, I went for the quicker and healthier whole wheat version. The pizza crust I found was organic; made with high quality ingredients such as whole wheat and extra-virgin olive oil. Plus, it had some yummy Italian seasonings thrown in too. Let's also not forget the time you save by not having to roll out the dough and cut it with a cookie cutter. That make this recipe a major calorie and a time saver. YES!

If you are going to do pizza, this is the way to go. To find a crust similar to this, I suggest looking in the refrigerated section of the "health nut" aisle (that's what I like to call it) in your grocery store. You should find something equally as fantastic there.

Enjoy your Pizzettes!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 152.75 calories;  3.66g fat;  24.82g carbohydrate;  6.4g protein;  2.2g fiber

**Recipe inspired by Giada De Laurentiis. Original recipe can be found here at foodnetwork.com. Also featured on Oprah and recipegirl.com!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: "Souper" Soups

With the weather turning colder, warm soups start to sound really good right about now. Although my cooking has expanded a great deal over the past year or so, my husband still wears the cooking crown for two things; grilling steaks and makin' soups. There is a Cheesy Potato Soup that he makes that would just rock your world! It is my favorite. But this post isn't about the soups he makes (sorry Rudy), it's about the soups that we are going to create in the New England Country Soup's Soup Challenge!

New England Country Soups prides themselves on making delicious and nutritious soups in many varieties. After reading about the ingredients and tasting the products, I can certainly see why. These people know what they are doing when it comes to healthy soups.

With a simple objective, to "make great tasting, good for you, shelf-stable soups with the same, all natural ingredients we use in our kitchen", the three founding "foodies" were able to locate all natural ingredient suppliers in order to make soups that taste great and are convenient for our busy lives. Thank you New England Country Soups!

So, what's this about a challenge? Well...New England Country Soup, an all natural, ready-to-serve soup brand based in Cambridge, is challenging folks to a Soup Challenge. Essentially, New England Country Soup is taking the bold step of challenging consumers to beat their soup recipes on taste and nutrition. Interested consumers can enter their recipes online, and then 15 semi-finalists in New England will get to challenge New England Country Soup in a live cook-off in January. Consumers will be competing for the chance to win a New England weekend getaway for two to Martha’s Vineyard. Sounds fun, right?

Consumers in 14 states can enter and they can choose to compete against any New England Country Soup flavor including Chicken Corn Chowder, Yankee White Bean, New England Clam Chowder, Chicken Pomodoro, Lentil, Nana’s Chicken Soup, Caribbean Black Bean and Sweet Chicken Curry. To learn more about the challenge and how to enter, please visit http://www.soupchallenge.com/.

I think this recipe makeover is going to be a challenge unlike any I have done before. It's one thing to make something heavy into something healthy, but how do you take something that is already awesome when it comes to flavor and nutrition and then improve on that?!?! Well, we shall see. I think this means a lot of soup experimentation for the Rudolph House between now and January 9th, 2011!

I hope you are as excited about this "souper" challenge as I am. Soup is a great way to pack in tons of nutrition and really satisfy your hunger. Plus, the great thing about soup is that there is usually enough left-over for the next day or two. Soup is a great way to stretch our food dollars as well. With all those reasons, you gotta give this challenge a try!

Which soup will you challenge?

Let's go, Cookin' Lean Crew! Show New England how to cook some healthy, out-of-this-world-delicious soup!

SOUP CHALLENGE STARTER KIT GIVEAWAY: Kit includes three jars of soup and 3 spices used in the soups. Visit New England Country Soup on FACEBOOK to enter!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, friends. What recipe are you using for stuffing? It's funny, 'cause up until about 2 years ago, I thought there was only one kind of stuffing; the kind my mom makes. Now that I have entered the wonderful world of cooking and recipe searching, I know this not to be the case. There are tons out there! Well, here is a really good one. My modified version of Rachael Ray's Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing is so light and delicious that you won't feel an ounce of guilt going for an extra helping.

Makes 8 Servings


Two 8.5-ounce boxes corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy (prepared with FAT FREE milk)

One 14.5-ounce can (about 1-3/4 cups) LIGHT & FAT FREE chicken broth

1 cup FAT FREE half-and-half

1/2 cup Egg Beaters 

8 slices Jeannie-O LeanTURKEY BACON, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/4 cup slice almonds 

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

Bake the cornbread according to the package directions. Allow time to cool, then break into 1-inch chunks.

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large baking dish, arrange the cornbread chunks in a single layer. Toast in the oven, stirring once, until golden, about 10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, half-and-half and eggs. Fold in the cornbread, cover and let soak for 10 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.

In a large, heavy skillet, cook the bacon until crisp at the edges, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and do not rinse the skillet. Add the EVOO to the same skillet, then stir in the onion and celery. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 10 minutes. Stir in the almonds, thyme and sage during the last minute of cooking. Stir in the cranberries, parsley, soaked cornbread and salt and pepper to taste. Cover; let stand for 30 minutes (Do not rush this part. Wait the entire 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350°. Add the stuffing to a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with greased foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake until golden, 15 minutes.


We loved this stuffing. All the flavors and textures come together so well. There is a little sweet and a little salt; some crunch and some chew. Plus, it seems so light, as opposed to a traditional stuffing that can be loaded down with butter and oil. We had ours along side a peppered pork tenderloin and it was fantastic. What I also love is the appearance; all the colors. Isn't it pretty? Like Paula always reminds us, "We eat first with our eyes." She is sooooo right.

If you have a chance, I would try this out. If not for Thanksgiving, than any time over this winter holiday season.

And for the record, Mom; your stuffing will always be the best!


NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 133.38 calories;  4.32g fat;  17.49g carbohydrate;  6.94g protein;  1.55g fiber

**This recipe was inspired by the Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing found on www.rachaelraymag.com. Original recipe by: Susan Lily Ott

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Hey, folks!  I really, really wish I were like Oprah and able to give each of you one of these amazing Butterball Electric Turkey Fryers for Thanksgiving. If I were Oprah, I would probably throw in a car too. Your reasons for wanting this turkey fryer were great; all so genuine and deserving of a prize. But unfortunately, there can be only one winner. That lucky lady happens to be ERIN @ Me, Him & Our Story!

Congratulations, Erin! I hope you love your new turkey fryer as much as my family has.

Thank you to everyone for being a part of this giveaway. The stories you shared just made me smile. I love learning more about the great people who visit The Cookin' Lean Kitchen. You all rock!

Please check back and see me soon. I have more giveaways & exciting reviews on the way!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Two Smart Ideas for Healthy "On-the-Go" Holiday Snacking

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the holidays have officially begun. Aisles in grocery stores and entire sections of Target have been transformed into magical, winter wonderlands full of fun decorations, adorable gift ideas and of course, tempting holiday treats. Cookies, candies, crackers and cheese. It's like the entire snacking industry was taken over by elves! Almost any regular snack food you can think of has been made to look like Santa Claus, a snowflake or a Christmas tree. And what does this do? Well, exactly what those geniuses behind it all want it to do. We buy it, then we eat it. Why not? Look how cute those Christmas Tree cakes are! Oh, and the snowflake crackers! I absolutely need 5 bags of holiday M & M's  just 'cause it's the holidays and they come in red and green. We end up buying and eating things we would normally have the strength to fend off. I know, friends. It happens to the best of us. I'm right there with you.
Luckily, the great people at Bear Naked and Stretch Island Fruit Co. were kind enough to share some of their delicious and nutritious all-natural snacks with me. They sent me some great samples to try and  I am now a huge fan of these two brands. They are two great companies (Go to their sites and read their stories. Cool stuff!) with excellent products. Let me tell you a little about both.

First Up: Bear Naked Fruit & Nut Granola Cookies
These cookies are wonderful. You know from the second you bite into them that this is no Chips Ahoy! Loaded with whole grains, berries and nuts, you are sure to get the energy boost you need, while even calming the occasional sweet-tooth. These cookies contain no preservatives, no cholesterol, no high fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils and 0g trans fat. Only 100% pure and natural ingredients.  A packaged snack couldn't be any closer to nature. They are yummy and can easily be thrown in a Zip-loc for a take anywhere snack. They also come in a Double Chocolate. Just a little FYI to all you chocolate lovers out there!
To learn more about this cool company and all their products, visit http://www.bearnaked.com/.

Serving Size: 1 cookie   130 calories; 6g fat; 18g carbohydrates; 2g protein

Last, Yet Certainly Not Least: Stretch Island All-Natural Fruit Strips

Think about when you were a child. Who didn't like fruit snacks? Fruit Roll-Ups! Fruit By the Foot! Oh yeah! I remember loving to go to my neighbors house to play because they had all the good snacks. My mom wouldn't buy that stuff. Now I know why. However, had she known about Stretch Island Fruit Snacks, I am sure fruit snacks would have been in the pantry. These fruity snacks are made completely out of real fruit purees meaning that there is no added sugar. All the sugar is found naturally in fruit. They come individually wrapped and in a variety of flavors. A very quick, convenient and mess-free way to get 1/2 serving of fruit.
To learn more about Stretch Island Fruit Co. and their products, please visit http://www.stretchislandfruit.com/.

Serving Size: 1 strip  45 calories; 0g fat; 12g carbohydrates; 0g protein

So during this busy holiday season, be sure to prepare yourself for hunger by stocking up on healthy, on-the-go snacks such as these. They are perfect for helping us stay on track, even with all the tempting treats of the season around us. I plan on keeping both the Bear Naked and Stretch Island snacks in the house, Kimber's bag and in the car. You never know where you will be when that snack attack hits. Be ready!

Happy & Healthy Holiday Snacking to You!

***Disclosure: Bear Naked and Stretch Island Fruit Co. provided me with samples to taste for this review. All the opinions in this review are my own. I was not paid to make them. Thank you!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Cauliflower and Ham au Gratin

Thanksgiving, or Turkey Day as we liked to call it in my house growing up, is just around the corner. All of you are probably starting to plan your menu, if you haven't done it already. Well before you finalize your grocery list, I have a suggestion for a new side dish. How about trying this Cauliflower and Ham au Gratin recipe, inspired by Rachael Ray! Generally, I like to stick to the same Thanksgiving menu year after year. The family tends to count on certain dishes and I can't stand to see a frowny face. Therefore, I won't change my menu, I will just add on to it. When you see how easy it is, you will see why I am not crazy for wanting to add yet another dish to an already busy day in the kitchen.

Serves 6


  • Sea salt and black or white pepper

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds), trimmed into florets and bite-size stems

  • 1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" (regular or light) OR EVOO 

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped

  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 1/4 cups FAT FREE Half & Half

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 (16-ounce) container FAT FREE cottage cheese

  • 1/2 pound JENNIE-O Turkey Ham (comes fully cooked); cubed into small pieces 

  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

  • A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


    Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 500°. In a large pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil, salt it, add the cauliflower and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

    Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the "ICBINB" or heat the EVOO over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, then the milk (or half & half); heat through and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the mustard and cottage cheese until melted, then remove from the heat.

    Stir the ham and the cheese sauce into the cauliflower, then transfer to a large, shallow casserole. Top with the parmigiano-reggiano and bake until brown and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the parsley.


    Normally, when Hubby likes a dish, his response is something along the lines of, "Wow! This is awesome!" When it is really good, I may not even get a verbal response, but more of a sound affect that signifies approval. With this dish, I received none of the above. I got a, "Mmmm..this is different." This is different? What does that mean? Different-good? Different-bad? After giving him a second, he assured me that his response meant it was different, yet in a good way. Good answer, Rudy. But seriously, he was right.

    I would have to agree with Rudy here. It does have a different taste, but it is quite good. The wine and the mustard give you a taste that you aren't expecting if you weren't the one making it. Having been the cook, I was prepared for the flavors and was very happy with the results. We don't eat much cauliflower around here, so it is nice to have a dish add a little excitement to it.

    Rachael's recipe called for 4 ounces of Gruyere cheese, which I substituted with 16-ounces of 1% cottage cheese. Gruyere cheese is a hard, white cheese that typically doesn't come in a low-fat version; at least not where I'm shopping. Also, at $10 a block, it can be pretty pricey as well. Instead, for around $2 and 6 grams of fat, I was able to add some creamy, cheesiness without blowing my financial or nutritional budget. Another idea, which I have not yet tried, would be to use fat free cream cheese instead of the Gruyere (You all know how I LOVE my PHILLY!). If you decide to try it with the cream cheese, please be sure to let me know how it worked out.

    I have a couple more possible Thanksgiving Day menu items to try out; including a yummy-lookin' Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Chestnut Stuffing. Be sure to check back in and see if it would be a good fit for your Thanksgiving menu too!

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 213.67 calories;  4.33g fat; 21.28g carbohydrate;  20.31g protein;  3.65g fiber

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Giveaway: Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer

    I can already hear you all, "Lindsay! A turkey fryer?!?!? This is not cookin' lean!"  You are right, but please, hear me out. This Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer is more than just a fryer, my friends. This thing boils and steams; the perfect appliance for cookin' up tons of healthy recipes. But also, let me remind you what I think about treating ourselves to something greasy and indulgent every now and then. If we couldn't splurge we would all go insane. Remember? If you are thinking about a frying splurge, this fryer is the best of the best! Get those Oreo cookies ready!

    Because I love my readers so much, I have accepted the generous offer from Masterbuilt to review their Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer AND give one away to one of you! Not only will you get this high-end, good lookin', oil savin', fryin' -machine...but you will also get a $15 off coupon  for a Butterball turkey (perfect with the holidays just around the corner) AND a copy of Dadgum That’s Good!, a cookbook from John McLemore, the CEO of Masterbuilt. How does that sound? I know! I was really excited too! And so was my hubby, Rudy, who has been begging to fry a turkey for the past 3 Thanksgivings. It's his lucky year!

    The Butterball Turkey Fryer from Masterbuilt has the following features:

    · The fryer is retailed at $159.96

    · Adjustable thermostat temperature control

    · Stainless steel construction

    · Porcelain-coated inner pot

    · Digital timer

    · Folding lid with window and filter

    · Cooking basket with drain clip

    · Drain Valve for easy cleaning

    · Saves on oil - uses 1/3 less than conventional turkey fryers

    · It can feed up to 8 people when frying a 14 lb turkey

    To see a video of John McLemore using this fryer, click here.

    We tried out our fryer twice this past weekend; once with a 12 lb. turkey and once with a 4 lb. chicken. Both times, it was wonderful! I was amazed at how quickly and evenly it was able to cook both the turkey and the chicken. It is so simple to use and SAFE! With a toddler running around, I know the fears you parents may have. If the cord gets pulled, it instantly releases from the fryer, preventing the hot oil from being pulled onto the floor or anyone around. That is a huge relief, right? After seeing how well it works, how easy it is to use and how it can be used in so many ways, I honestly don't know a cook who wouldn't want one of these in their kitchen!

    Whether this would be perfect for you or someone you know this holiday season, I personally would not miss the chance to win it.

    TO ENTER: 

    1- Leave a comment letting me know how the turkey fryer would help you out this holiday season.

    2- Want your entry to count twice? Follow Masterbuilt on Facebook and Twitter !

    Overall, I was extremely impressed with this product and I know who ever wins this will be impressed as well.


    ONE winner will be selected and announced on Wednesday, November 17, 2010. The winner will be generated using www.random.org.

    ** Masterbuilt provided me with the following items to complete this review: one Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer, one $15 off coupon for a Butterball turkey and one copy of Dadgum That’s Good!, a cookbook from John McLemore, the CEO of Masterbuilt; as well one giveaway package (including all items listed above) for one lucky reader. The opinions included in this review are my own and I was not paid to make them. I really do LOVE this fryer.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: The Honest Eater

    From a very young age we are told to always tell the truth. Never tell a lie. Honesty is the best policy. As we grow into adults, we learn this to be true and some of us are now instilling these same values on our children. Yes, honesty is an important factor in maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships. We see the value of honesty in these areas of our lives and for the most part, we stick by it. But let's not forget to mention another relationship where honesty is important; the relationship between you and your food.

    What I mean here is that in order for us to fully grasp an understanding as to why our "diets" may not be working out the way we planned, we must first obtain an honest assessment of what is really going on. Did you really only have a grilled chicken salad for lunch or did you have a salad AND the remainder of your daughter's macaroni n' cheese (Yes, this may have happened to me once or twice. Busted.)? Was it really just a serving of Wheat Thins or half the box? When details are left out or we lie to ourselves about what is really going in our tummies, it's no wonder we are so confused about the disappointing results. So, what do we do?

    When the jeans get a little snug and I can't figure out why, I give myself a food and fitness reality check. By keeping an honest written log of what is going in (every sip and bite) and what is going out (by this, I mean exercise), I am able to see where things may have gotten out of hand or off track. What I think is going on with my food and fitness may not always be the case. This happens sometimes. Life distracts us. By taking a step back and really looking at the reality of the situation, I am able to make adjustments and get back to business as usual. For me, it is the act of writing everything down that really forces me to be honest with myself.

    The take-away from this post is that in order to put together the most effective eating and exercising plan to meet our lifestyle goals, we first need to be honest with ourselves about our current situation. Before feeling helpless and discouraged, are you really being as "good" as you think you are? Think about this: How can a teacher give the best instruction without knowing where the child is academically? How can a doctor give the best diagnosis and treatment without know ALL of the symptoms? The same goes for our eating and exercise goals. Taking an honest look into the whole picture, every detail, will allow us to see exactly where we are and most importantly, why. Armed with this knowledge, we are better prepared to reach our goals.

    When it comes to analyzing our eating habits...yes, honesty is the best policy.

    Have a great  "truthful" Tuesday!

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Fast Fat Facts

    Fat is bad for you. Fat is good for you. Eat this fat, don't eat that fat. Saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats...oh, my! There is so much information out there about bad fats vs. healthy fats that it can become quite confusing at times. In the past, low-fat foods were the way to go. But what is all this stuff about heart-healthy fats, like the kind found in salmon and olive oil? If it is recommended that we eat this "good" fat, then how much? Help!

    Well, here are some "Fast Fat Facts" to help you get a handle on all this blubber you are hearing about fat.

    Good Fats                                              Found In...

    Monounsaturated fat --- Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds

    Polyunsaturated fat ----Vegetable oils (such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nuts and seeds

    Omega-3 fatty ----acids Fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts

    Not So Good Fats                                     Found In...

    Saturated fat ----Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils

    Trans fat ----Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and french fries), shortening and margarine

    Dietary cholesterol ---Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter

    Fat should be limited in our diets, but not cut out completely. The USDA and HHS recommend that our daily intake of fat does not exceed 35 % of our daily caloric intake (less than 10% for saturated fats). For example, if you take in 1800 calories a day, you should not have more than 70 grams of fat per day (To figure: Multiply 1,800 by 0.35 to get 630 calories, and divide that number by 9, the number of calories per gram of fat, to get 70 grams of total fat.) Remember, this is a maximum limit and that the majority of your fat intake should come from "good" sources.

    Remember, there are positive benefits to adding healthy fats to your diet...as long as in moderation; which seems to be the case with almost everything in our lives.

    I hope this has helped. Have a great Tuesday!

    **For more information on fat, visit www.mayoclinic.com.
    ***Information for this article was found here; part of www.mayoclinic.com.


    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Pumpkin Ravioli

    Ever wish you could customize your own ravioli filling, yet the thought of making your own pasta just intimidates the heck out of you? Well, I am about to share with you how even a rookie could make the most amazing ravioli! With it being fall and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it felt fitting to try out Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Ravioli with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. Doesn't that just sound wonderful?!?! It was! My version is missing the pumpkin seeds, but I have added something else you are likely to enjoy as well. Here is how to do it...

    Serves 4


    1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree (not the pie filling)

    4 ounces FAT FREE Philadelphia cream cheese, softened

    1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus shaved Parmesan for serving

    1 large egg; egg white

    Salt and pepper

    32 wonton wrappers

    1/2 butternut squash; cut into cubes

    3 tablespoons "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Light

    1/4 cup vegetable stock

    1 tablespoon dried sage

    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


    In a medium bowl, mash together the pumpkin, fat free cream cheese, Parmesan, egg white and 2 pinches each salt and pepper.

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Spoon a tablespoon of the pumpkin-cream cheese filling into the center of 16 wonton wrappers, brush the edges with water, top with the remaining 16 wrappers and press to seal, gently squeezing out the air. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

    Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over low-medium heat, melt the ICBINB.  Add veggie stock, sage and nutmeg. Also add cubed squash; giving a quick stir ever so often. Keep an eye on while working with ravioli. (To make sure the butter-broth doesn't burn, keep on a low heat.)

    Working in 3 batches, cook the ravioli in the boiling water until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, add the ravioli to the butter-broth and squash in the skillet. Turn gently to coat.

    Divide the ravioli among 4 plates; season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Spoon the squash over top and sprinkle with shredded parm.


    I am just gonna go ahead and say it. I was so proud of myself with this one! It just turned out so nice AND I could technically say that the ravioli were homemade. How's that for impressing your family and friends?
    This blog started as an adventure; a way to enter the world of cooking and expand my culinary skills. This means stepping "outside the box" and trying new things. Up until making this recipe, pumpkin puree really only had one place; in a pumpkin pie. Putting it in ravioli would not have crossed my mind. Well Rachael, thank you for the inspiration 'cause it was fantastic!
    For a nutritional boost, I added the butternut squash. It works. And for a little more spunk (instead of adding more salt), I added the sage and nutmeg; which also work.
    Give it a try and let me know what you think. Now that I have a way to make simple, "homemade" ravioli, my creative wheels are turning. How about you?

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving of 4 ravioli): 325.5 calories;  6.73g fat;  50.72g carbohydrate;  15.14g protein;  5.72g fiber

    **Original recipe can be found on Rachael Ray's website.


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