Saturday, December 31, 2011

Self-Control: An Important Key to Healthy Living

Achieving or maintaining your desirable body weight can be done. However, this does not happen by chance. We all have to intentionally do our part to have good health, which we know begins with an optimal weight that is appropriate for you. Well, I believe the Bible has some guidance on how to do this.

In Galatians 5:22, it says that "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control". There it is...self-control. Self-control can be applied to what you put in your body and how much food you put into your body. Of course, nutrition and self-control are a couple of the tools needed to achieve or maintain desirable body weight. Exercise is another tool that is a vital necessity for accomplishing this life long goal. There has to be a fine balance in these tools that are being used. Registered dietitians could give you the best advice on how to achieve your goal weight, but if you do not do your part in implementing self-control in your food choices as well as the frequency and portion of your food choices, then you will not ever get from  point A to point B. Exercising alone without making any dietary changes will not bring on life-long results. Dietary changes alone without regular exercise will not produce life-long results. 

While we are all entitled to be lazy from time to time after working really hard at work or school, we must also have self-control over how far we allow our laziness to go. Does this sound familiar? I'm too lazy to cook, I'll just go out to eat again. While it's not a bad thing to eat out once in a while, it is a healthier practice to prepare your own meals at home as often as you can. Have self-control over your laziness. On the other hand, we may be too lazy to exercise. Have self control over your laziness and get up and start moving! On a different hand, we may be too lazy to choose healthier food choices. Enjoy eating healthy 90% of the time, and allow yourself 10% of the time to enjoy those not-as-healthy choices. Have self-control over your laziness, and start making healthy food choices most of the time.

If you feel like you don't have self-control in the areas of food choices, exercising, and laziness, do not despair. God is always ever-ready to help you out. Partner up with God and ask Him to give you the self-control you desire to have in order to live healthy. When you have a relationship with Christ on a daily basis, this automatically results in having the Holy Spirit live within you. Having the Holy Spirit within you will result in the fruits of the Spirit in your life, which includes self-control. With God's help, you can achieve your goals.

Here's to a blessed and healthy 2012! Cheers!

What are you health goals for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Are You Low-Fat Fixated?

Here goes my confession. When I was a brand-spanking new registered dietitian, I insisted on making sure everything I ate was low in fat or had no fat at all. In addition, that was the "big thing" back in the 90s. So yes, I was a low-fat fanatic. I did this, because I thought it truly was the "healthy" thing to do AND I wanted to set the utmost example to all of my patients, family, and friends on how to eat properly. Boy, was I wrong!

Let me go on to unravel how I felt eating everything extremely low fat. In a nutshell...NOT GOOD! I was always hungry! Well, of course, there was no lasting satiety to sustain me. My energy level was also mediocre. Taking anything to the extreme, even if its "good" for you is dangerous and honestly, unhealthy. When I brought back in more of the healthy fats in my meals, it made the most remarkable change in how I felt overall. Since then, I have been a crusader for moderation!

There are a couple of people that I feel sorry for whenever they boast about their low fat dishes. One gal is always trying to make a dish and dessert that she makes low fat. The other gal takes pictures of her low fat meals and posts them on Facebook. She always puts in her description that it is low fat. You're missing the point ladies! They don't realize that their extreme focus on decreasing fats can hinder their bodies' ability to absorb fat soluble vitamins that we need. In addition, restricting fats to very low amounts can lead to dry skin.

Please don't get me wrong. Looking out for our daily total fat intake is important. Consuming many foods high in fat can rack up the calories quickly. There are nine calories for each gram of fat, so that is quite a lot. What is really important is making sure that we keep our saturated fat intake to a lesser degree, because that is the culprit that elevates our bad cholesterol. Elevated bad cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease and eventually a heart attack. Although we cannot avoid saturated fat completely, don't worry. Consuming foods that are high in saturated fat in smaller portions will not kill you. The problem comes in when foods that are high in saturated fat are eaten all the time and in large amounts.

We must have a reasonable amount of fat in our meals and snacks. It is imperative we do not restrict our monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake unreasonably, because they are our heart healthy fats. We need these fats.  These fats are found avocados, olives, nuts, peanuts, flaxseed, olive oil, and canola oil. Of course, they will help us absorb the fat soluble vitamins are bodies need such as A, D, E, and K.

To keep ourselves healthy does not mean taking anything to the extreme. Taking any part of nutrition to the extreme down to nil or zero results in deprivation. Deprivation can possibly lead to binging for many. Deprivation can lead to nutrient deficiencies resulting in medical problems. Bottom line, moderation is the key!  However, I'll just add here that maximizing plant-based food sources is not a bad idea.

It is best not to fry everything we eat, so what are your favorite methods of preparing your meals?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Your Motivation?

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions. I believe that if there is a goal I want to reach or something I want to improve on in my life, I will start working on it right away any time of the year. Waiting for January is not a necessity. However, if that is when you want to set and begin your new goals or resolutions, then that is the best place for you to begin.

When it comes to eating healthier or getting more involved in some kind of exercise program, perform a double check on reality at first. Examine the motivation or primary reason for your wanting to make an improvement in your life.  For many, there may be more than one reason to make one change in your life. I pray and hope that is the case for all of us. The primary reason for starting a new journey, habit or practice should not be a skin-deep reason. Skin-deep reasons can be at the bottom of the list and not necessarily be excluded.

The example of a skin-deep reason is one that a friend of mine sadly exhibited. Before I became a running convert, I loved mountain biking and still do. However, I use to bike three to four times a week. Now I run a whole lot more and I bike less. Because of my love for being active in sports, I also love to help friends learn how to mountain bike or run if they are truly interested. On one of the first few mountain bike rides with my friend, she was ecstatic. She was excited out of her mind. I was so happy for her that she was really interested in getting to learn the sport of mountain biking, so I thought. As soon as we all started to pedal, the first words out of her mouth was, "Good-bye cellulite!". What?!!!! You've gotta be kidding me. That was her only reason to want to learn how to mountain bike? Were there other reasons?

The moment my friend publicly declared adios to cellulite, I immediately thought, this is not going to last long. I am wasting my time with her. Sure enough. I hate to admit it, I was right. It would have been fine if that was one of her secondary reasons for learning how to mountain bike. If she was truly concerned about taking care of herself and her health, that would not been her first reason. Making a lasting commitment to yourself for lifelong, good healthy habits should come from within and not from outside. If her primary reason for learning how to mountain bike was to improve her cardiovascular health, then she would have enjoyed the ride much better. She would have stuck to mountain biking much longer. The secondary reasons for learning how to mountain bike could be for pleasure and enjoyment, to relax, to relieve stress, to release endorphins, and yes...even to end up looking lean and good.

The same goes for turning over the leaf to start eating healthier. To be healthy should be anyone's primary reason to go down on this wonderful path. The benefits of exercising and eating well are priceless and numerous. Once again, if you choose to "eat healthy" for just purely looks, then long-term success will not take place. Eating healthy and exercising regularly are ammunition to reach or maintain a desirable body weight in order to stave off or reduce the risk of any chronic medical conditions.  This is for the long haul. This is not for selfish reasons.  When you are healthy and strong, you are able to be more loving to be around. Then you are able to also take care of your family and those around you. When you take care of yourself, this makes God happy. Since He made us, it pleases Him that we are doing our part to maintain the bodies He blessed us with.

Were you able to maintain a "healthy-habits" regimen through the recent holidays? If so, how did you do it?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Recipe Redux: Stuffed Bell Peppers with Quinoa & Lentils

I am absolutely excited to officially be a member of "Recipe Redux". What an honor and privilege to be part of a group of dedicated registered dietitians in creating healthy and delicious recipes. This is my first contribution to the group.

The theme for this month is legumes and beans created in a festive manner. Since I love the wonderful taste of lentils, I decided to create a recipe centered on lentils embedded on top of a quinoa base stuffed in a beautiful green pepper. For my recipe I used green peppers and green lentils sprinkled with red pimientos on top.  However, you can also switch up this recipe by using red peppers and red lentils and sprinkling it on top with green onions to create a festive look.


1 cup uncooked lentils
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cups water
2 tsp McKay's Beef-Style Powdered Broth
1 tsp mushroom seasoning

1 cup uncooked quinoa
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 cups water
2 tsp McKay's Chicken-Style Powdered Broth
1/3 cup diced tomatoes
2 tsp of lemon juice
Salt to taste (optional)

6 green bell peppers
1 tbsp of olive oil
very slight pinch of salt and pepper


Preheat oven at 325 degrees F. Pre-grease a cookie sheet or pizza tray with canola oil. Set aside.

Start the lentils first, since it takes longer to cook. Fill a sauce-pan with water and place on medium heat. Add lentils and powdered McKay's Beef-Like broth and stir. When water is boiling, bring down heat a little and cook until lentils are very tender. This may take anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes or so. 
While lentils are cooking... can start chopping up the onions and sautee them. Set aside. Check lentils in the mean time for tenderness. If water running low, add just the right amount of water to keep it cooking. When tenderness is achieved and a little water is still visible, add and stir the sauteed onions along with the mushroom seasoning. Stir well. Set aside when done.

Quinoa doesn't take as long to cook. In a different sauce pan, pour in 2 cups of water with 2 tsp of powdered McKay's Chicken-Like broth. Stir. Add in quinoa. Boil for about 15 minutes or so until you see the rings appear on the quinoa.
While quinoa is cooking...
...chop up garlic and sautee. Set aside. When little water is still visible and almost gone from quinoa, add and stir in the garlic and tomatoes. Add the lemon juice and stir the entire mixture. Set aside.
After washing the peppers, carefully cut off the tops of the green peppers. Clean out the inside of the peppers. Brush the outer skin of the green peppers with olive oil mixed with a very slight pinch of salt and pepper (I only have 3 green peppers pictured here, but the amount of lentils and quinoa will fill up six green peppers.)

Fill up half way the green peppers with the quinoa mixture. Pack it down well while filling up half way.
Fill up the rest of the green peppers with the lentil mixture. Pack it down well and pile it up.
Place pimientos on top of stuffed bell pepper.
Place and bake in oven for 18 to 20 minutes.

 After removing from the oven and allowing to cool a little, your stuffed green peppers will be ready to be transferred to your serving dish and is ready to be served.

These stuffed green pepper with lentils and quinoa comes packaged with vitamin C, fiber, protein, and folate. This entree presents a power-house of nutrients. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Give a Nourishing Gift

Without a doubt, giving presents that cannot be eaten are very nice to give. They are also nice to receive I must add. We're talking things here like a new jacket, a pair of gloves, a tablet, candles, etc. However, this year, I personally am not asking for anything. I realize I have everything I need, although not everything I want.

For a change, I'll be giving my close friends, in my women's Bible study group, a gift that nourishes for Christmas. Hopefully they won't read this post before Tuesday. (Jackie might...and if you do Jackie, you've already had some! I'll have to make a completely different set of cookies for you...strawberry cookies.:-D  Jackie, is allergic to strawberries. j/k!) I've chosen to give them something home-made made with love from my kitchen. I have made for them persimmon cookies, which I posted about last week. I still have a lot of persimmons left from my tree, so why not turn them into cookies for my friends! 

Now when I make or bake food for family and friends, I do my best to make sure that it tastes good as well as nourishes the physical body. My persimmon cookie recipe gives beta carotene and fiber with less added sugar and minimal saturated fat...and yet, the sweet flavor comes in at just the right intensity without being overbearing. However, as I've made the cookies, one of the other ingredients that I always add to everything I cook and bake is a generous serving of love. That's the special ingredient. Before I started putting all of the ingredients together, I also asked God to pour His blessings on the cookies, so that my friends will enjoy them. As I will be wrapping each set of cookies, I will be lifting up the gals one by one in prayer and asking God to bless them. A card will be attached with each gift with the prayer written out that I prayed specifically for them.

This gift will not only be a gift to nourish their bodies, but it will be a gift to nourish their souls as well. Gifts do not have to be pricey, especially with the economical struggles we all are experiencing. I will be packaging them in these wonderful tin boxes, ribbons, and tissue paper that I bought at the Dollar Tree store...everything for only a dollar each!

Be creative in the presents you give this year. It's an absolutely rewarding experience, especially when God is right at the center of the gift giving experience.

What home-made gifts are you giving this year or have given in the past?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

PRODUCT REVIEW: Flatout's Baked Flatbread Crisps

I had never heard of Flatout Flatbread products up until a couple months ago. The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in San Diego this year was where I had the opportunity to be familiar with Flatout Flatbread's line of tasty and nutritious products. With well over a thousand booths at the expo, it's hard to cover all of them or be even interested to stop at every booth. I made a post on Facebook that I was attending the conference/expo. My friend, Crister DelaCruz, sent me a message telling me that I should stop at her friend's booth. I'm glad she connected me to her friend, Nicole Simonds, who is a marketing director for Flatout. Thank you, Crister for connecting me to Nicole, and thank you Nicole for introducing to your product line!

The baked flatbread crisps are absolutely delicious! They come in very interesting shapes, which makes it more fun and enjoyable to eat for people of all ages. They have four varieties, which are garlic herb, multigrain, sea salt, and four cheddar. Except for the sea salt version, the other three flatbread crisps are made with 100% whole wheat flour. Therefore, the three flatbread crisp versions that are made with whole wheat flour have five grams of fiber for each serving consisting of 15 chips. That's a nice plus to have right there. What is also wonderful about these products is that they do not contain saturated or trans fats! However, like everything else, moderation in consumption is still the key. Snacks that are "crispy and crunchy", like chips and crackers, tend to be higher in sodium. Three of the products are high in sodium. The sea salt flatbread crisp is the lowest in sodium and actually comes really close to be considered low. If a label says, 140 mg of sodium or less per serving, then that indicates it is a low sodium food item.  The sea salt version comes in at 150 mg of sodium per serving, so that's reasonable for sodium content. Regardless, when you do eat these baked flatbread crisp and when consumed in moderation, you are feeding your body with something that is really good for you.

These flatbread crisps delicious by itself.  However, you can always add a healthy dip to it like hummus. These crisps make also a great accompaniment to soups.

Now if you have a soy allergy and depending on the degree of your allergy to soy, a have a little warning for you. The crisps also contain soy flour and soybean oil. However, some people with soy allergies may be able to tolerate this product just fine, especially consumed in smaller amounts.

Here in SoCal, they can be found at Albertsons, Stater Brothers, and Target. You can also purchase them online. Visit their website at Give Flatout Baked Flatbread Crisps a try today!

Disclosure: I was given free samples by the company. No monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.

Have you tried any of Flatout's other products? If so, which ones would you recommend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Indoor Track

As much as possible, I like to do both of my short and long runs outdoors. However, during the winter season when it is colder, sometimes it rains, and the sun sets very early, running outdoors is not an option for me for my short runs. Therefore, I always set out to find a way to keep things going. Not exercising is never an option for me. Thank God for gyms that can keep you on track.

I'm thankful that Drayson Center has a really nice indoor track!
When your two options in the gym are the treadmill and an indoor track for running, I go for the indoor track.You may immediately think that running around in circles is B-O-R-I-N-G! That's exactly what I use to think. However, I have changed that point of view. For one, the whole situation is mind over matter...just think positively! The second thing to do to keep running in an indoor track much more do-able, is to do interval training runs. I have learned to enjoy running indoors, because of this type of run. Going back and forth from a higher intensity run to a lower intensity run and back and forth makes the run interesting and challenging. If you run around the track at a constant comfortable pace, then will be boring with a capital B.

I'm not against treadmills, so I have to mention it here briefly. If I have to do another short run indoors due to time or weather conditions, I opt to do my second short run of the week on the treadmill. This is where I do a tempo run of a nice slow start at the beginning, sustaining a faster pace for 15 to 20 minutes, and ending with a slower pace. Doing one of my runs of the week on the treadmill provides variety for me at least. I'm one of those that always needs variety of where I run during the week. This keeps me going and keeps the runs fresh for me. Running at the same place all the time would provide burnout for my brain. 

If you have access to an indoor track, give it a try sometime. It's not really as boring as you think it is, but it is what you make of it. The track can be fun!

How do you keep motivated to exercise during the cold winter season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Persimmon Cookie Recipe

I finally learned to love fuyu persimmons! It took a while, but now it's on my "favorites" list. This particular type of persimmon can be eaten crunchy like an apple. You don't have to wait until it becomes soft. However, if you wait until this persimmon becomes softer in texture, it is great for baking cookies! Fuyu persimmons are power-packed with beta carotene and is also a good source of vitamin C.

My tree in my backyard produced a lot of persimmons this year.
Here is my version of a very, very soft persimmon cookie that is low in saturated fat and has a little more fiber than other persimmon cookie recipes...and...a little less added sugar.

I had fun making six dozen persimmon cookies!
Cookies definitely taste so much better when they are made from scratch!

  • 3 fuyu persimmons
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Peel and de-stem the persimmons and process them in a food processor or blender. You will want enough pulp to equal 1 cup. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening. Beat in the egg and persimmon pulp. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, stir into the persimmon mixture. Finally, stir in the chopped nuts. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 
What other types of persimmons have you tried and really liked?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Creation Week on LLBN

Every now and then, I get requested to sing on Loma Linda Broadcasting Network (LLBN). This is a Seventh-Day-Adventist Christian television network airing Christian programs that encourages the heart and soul. Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through word and music is the mission of this station. This is why I love singing on their station.

Last month, I had the privilege of singing during their Creation Week special. This was a week-long special focusing on each day of creation. The night that I sang on this special was when they also had a rattlesnake as a guest. The rattlesnake is housed at the Loma Linda University School of Science and Technology. The red diamond rattlesnake was brought in by one of the current doctoral students in the program. Other creatures created by God were also featured. Therefore, that evening was focusing on God's creatures that He made. The rattlesnake was so behaved that night. He fell on the table once, but the doctoral student suavely picked him up and placed him on the table again. I was shocked at myself for thinking this rattlesnake looked so beautiful up close. It really was!

I never cease to be amazed at how many items, things, people, and creatures God created. There is no doubt in my mind that God created us. When you take an anatomy and physiology course, you can't help but be amazed and think that the organization of our body structure did not happen by chance. There was obviously a designer. When you study astronomy and look at the sun, you can't help but think that there was a God that put them in their place. When you study music, you can't help but think that there was a composer behind all the numerous variations of chords and cadences. When I look at my cats, I thank God for the beautiful animals He has created for us to enjoy.

This particular week on LLBN coincided when I re-read the beginning of Genesis. Reading Genesis chapters one and two never gets old. I am always very intrigued when I read about how God thought things out in an orderly fashion. He carefully thought through what should be created first and what should be created last. Although sin has brought in a lot of negativity into this world, the love of God still shows through His creations. There is still so much beauty all around through nature, animals, and people. I can't wait till we get to Heaven when we get to see our Creator face to face and everything will be restored to the perfection He set this world out to be in the first place. I am looking forward to Christ's return!

In what or where do you see the beauty of God as a Creator?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Cream by Michaela

I am very pleased and honored to have my former student, now colleague and friend, Michaela Ballmann, guest post on my blog. Michaela is a registered dietitian who completed her master of science degree in nutrition and dietetics from Loma Linda University in 2010. She graduated as president of her class and was definitely one of our cream of the crop students. Michaela currently works as a clinical inpatient dietitian at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California. At the same time, she is working on launching her private practice called Nutritionally Speaking. Please learn more about Michaela at her website, listen to hear podasts, and read her nutrition information there

Thank you, Michaela for taking your time to guest post and for sharing this wonderful recipe with us. I wish you continued blessings on your current position in working with patients and on your new company!

The Following Is Written By Michaela Ballmann, MS, RD

During the Fall season, I like to take advantage of the very convenient (and nutritious) canned pumpkin that hits the stores.  Besides tasting amazing, pumpkin is incredibly high in vitamin A and is also a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins C, E, and K.  In other words, pumpkin is full of good stuff to keep you healthy! Here’s a recipe to try if you want more pumpkiny goodness in your life:

Recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Cream
Note: I use canned pumpkin in this recipe. If any of you live near a Trader Joe’s, check out their organic canned pumpkin that’s in stock for the holidays.  If you want, you can use a pumpkin or squash from the farmer’s market, bake or roast it, and scoop out the filling. I have not tested the recipe with this method, but give it a try if you’d like!  Also, for those with soy allergies, Greek yogurt might be a good sub for the tofu.  Some adjustments to the thickener may be necessary.

Who doesn’t like creamy goodness? I know I do!  This vegan take on whipped cream is high in protein from the tofu and gets an extra dose of nutrition and taste from the pumpkin.  Try it in parfaits, as a twist in tiramisu, or as a topping or dip.  The possibilities are endless!

 1 package of Silken Tofu (I used Firm Lite Mori-Nu)

  1 15 oz. can of Organic Pumpkin (or ~1.5 cups of pureed pumpkin)

¼ cup Maple Syrup (or other sweetener)
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Optional: 2 Tbsp Cornstarch/Arrowroot

Blend all ingredients together until very creamy. Include cornstarch/arrowroot if a stiffer cream is desired. Chill in refrigerator before serving.  Enjoy!


PRODUCT REVIEW: Lisanatti Shredded Almond Cheddar Style Cheese

I'm always on the look-out for good cheese alternatives. About three years ago, I bought the almond cheese block form by Lisanatti. In a nutshell, I was not impressed back then. A few weeks ago, my student, Melissa Thurnhofer, wrote on my Facebook wall and asked if I had tried the Lisanatti almond cheese. I wasn't sure if what I had tried a few years earlier was by Lisanatti, so I promised her I would go back and see if it was or not. If it was, then I would certainly give it another shot again.

Well, lo and behold, it was Lisanatti that I tried before. This time, I decided to buy the shredded version of the "cheddar cheese" option. I first tried it in a plain and simple vegetable dish. It was alright. This was looking promising so far! Then I tried it making a spaghetti dish. I used the angel hair pasta version of Barilla Plus (a must! and healthy!) and the Barilla Garlic Sauce (yum!)...I'm a big Barilla fan! I did include the shredded cheddar style almond cheese, and it was pretty good...not bad!

Now on the packaging of Lisanatti, it says "melts and tastes great!". The most common definition of melt is turning a solid into a liquid. I don't know about you, but I sure think of "liquid" as it becoming one and very fluid. However, in the cheese alternative world, I've come to realize that the word "melt" does not have the same meaning for "melt" as in the dictionary. Lisanatti's definition of melt means, it just breaks apart, so it breaks down into smaller pieces and may stretch a little bit. I tried making a "cheese sauce" with Lisanatti for my healthy version of "mac and cheese" and even after almost an hour on heat, the Lisanatti almond cheese never become one, never became a liquid, but became separate little pieces. (My apologies for the unclear, unfocused picture.) If you don't look really closely at the finished product it looks alright.

Tastewise, the Lisanatti in my mac and cheese was not outstanding. It was fair. I'm still working on and tweaking my healthy recipe version of mac and cheese, but maybe next  time I will try Daiya or Galaxy Nutrition cheese alternatives. Lisanatti is good for when you do not want strong flavors, but very, very mild flavoring. The protein source is casein from milk products, so those who are vegan will not be happy about this product. This product though does not have saturated fat, which is a nice plus. In addition, the sodium content is fairly reasonable and not as high as other cheese alternatives, so this is an additional plus. Every one has different preferences in tastes, so why not give Lisanatti a try one day. You might like it.

What other almond cheeses have you tried and liked?

Friday, December 9, 2011

PRODUCT REVIEW: Dark Fudge Chocolate Chip Kettle Corn

Today while I was making my usual weekly shopping visit to Clark's Nutrition, my eye caught a food display right there in the middle of the store. Lots of good things were displayed like almond butter and bread. However, however, however, my tastebuds woke up even before placing a piece of kettlecorn in my mouth.  Just the words "dark fudge chocolate chip kettlecorn" made me HAPPY to think that there is a possibility of something really good in store. After trying the almond butter and bread, I immediately tried the kettlecorn that was laced with chocolate goodness. I LOVE kettlecorn and I LOVE chocolate to begin with, but never had the two as a combo. Believe me, I was NOT disappointed at all, not even a teeny, tiny bit. This treat is decadent with a capital D!!! Popcorn Indiana has done a great job to create this product. Oh, how I love this new find! On one hand, it's pricey for just one bag. That's probably a good thing, so that none of us will be tempted to buy it all the time.

Now let me advise you, do NOT open the bag until you get home. You will definitely need a plan of action, because believe me, you will want to eat the entire bag in one moment! If you plan on trying this when you get home, scoop out 3/4 of a cup and put the kettlecorn bag hidden in a shelf in your kitchen where you absolutely cannot see it. Three-fourths of a cup will provide 70 calories, 30 mg sodium, 1 gm fiber, and 6 gms of sugar. Let this be your serving for the day. Enjoy it really, really slowly.  Chew it very, very well and bask in the decadent experience of this simple, but very scrumptious treat.  I have to warn you that it can be very addicting, so practice mindful moderation with this totally, totally, totally delicious version of kettlecorn! Enjoy!

Are you a popcorn fan or are you a kettlecorn fan?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life Complete With Christ

There are many things in life that I enjoy having through purchasing. However, after a few weeks or so, the novelty always seems to wane and ware off, is still nice to have certain things that I've a bargain, of course. It just seems like no material item in life ever gives lasting happiness. If worse came to worse, and I've lost the few belongings that I have, that would be perfectly alright. I know I could live without those material possessions. Why would it be perfectly alright? That's because I know I will never lose what is most valuable to me no matter what situation I am in.

Christ promises to always be with us. When we have Him in our personal lives, life is much more bearable despite the difficulties. A personal relationship with Christ is the most valuable possession to have in our lives. If we are not connected to Him on a daily basis, there is no way we can do anything else. He is the only One that we can find life and strength in. I love what Christ says in John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing". 

Each day we can go on in our lives to accomplish what we need to do for family, friends, school, patients/clients, work, community service, and hobbies, because it is God that gives strength, encouragement, inspiration, life, and blessings to ignite the fire in our lives.  However, God won't force His way into your life. He waits to be invited. Why not invite Him into your life today if you haven't already.

How has God been evident in your life so far this week?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Experiment Making Crispy Rice Treats

Growing up in the wonderful U.S. of A., you can't help but be exposed to the goodness of Rice Krispies Treats. Oh, how I've loved this treat ever since I was a child. For fun, I decided to explore making a "healthy version" of this American classic. 

My first thoughts were, we have got to use brown rice for the crispy rice. I know! Attune Food's Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice should do a good job. Then my next thought was to hunt down a marshmallow that is not made out of animal product, since the regular marshmallows found in the supermarkets are animal based. Low and behold, Clark's Nutrition store came to the rescue and sells vegan marshmallows! Yay! The brand name is Dandies. It's on the pricey side, but delicious and definitely a healthier alternative. Then since Rice Krispie Treats includes butter in its original recipe, I decided to use margarine...just to cut corners on saturated fat. Oh yes...I did forget to include the margarine in the picture. Oh well...

I proceeded to use the original Rice Krispies Treat recipe 
and just merely substituted using the exact portion sizes for the cereal, marshmallows, and margarine. Believe me...I really got excited to do this!

 I started to throw in 3 tbsp of margarine and melting it in a large pot.
 I also immediately threw in 4 cups of the marshmallows.
 The good news is that Dandies marshmallows does melt, but it just doesn't melt as easily, nicely, or fluidly as regular marshmallows...but again, it melts!
Then 6 cups of the crispy brown rice were added to the melted marshmallow and margarine. I stirred it around and mixed it around as best as I possibly could.
 I transferred the mixture immediately to a pre-margarined casserole dish container. Using wax paper, I flattened out the mixture as best I could. 
 After I had flattened it all out, I laid it aside to cool.
 Voila! The finished product! A friend came over the night I made these. This particular friend also happens to be a Rice Krispies treats fan. Although it does not taste exactly the same as the original Rice Krispies treat as my friend noted (as I noted too), my friend stated how much he really liked it and kept eating it that night. That made me happy. If you ever make these, just know it doesn't take just like Rice Krispies Treats, but it does have its own similar nice taste. Also keep in mind, this version has fiber and no animal products. Sugar content though is somewhat lower, because Attune Foods is conscientious about making cereal without a ton of sugar like other cereal brands do. It definitely is a nice overall alternative for a healthier treat!

What other favorite American desserts did you grow up with?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kabocha Squash Soup Recipe by Maggie

My colleague and dear friend, Margarete Carneiro, graciously shared a delicious, but easy to make recipe with me to share on my blog. Maggie is a registered dietitian at Loma Linda University Medical Center where she is the outpatient transplant dietitian. Maggie is also a certified diabetes educator. Concurrently, Maggie began her studies this quarter for her doctor in public health degree. I wish my friend well as she continues on in this academic journey! 

When you hear the word kabocha, does that sound Japanese to you? Well, it sure does to me! Kabocha squash, a Japanese squash, is packed with a lot of beta carotene, which will be converted into vitamin A once you take it into your body.

I really enjoyed making Maggie's recipe and you will too. I meant to take a picture of the kabocha squash before I cut it, but I forgot! My apologies. However, just in case you're unfamiliar with how a kabocha squash looks, picture a small pumpkin, except that its color is dark green.

- 1 whole kabocha squash
- 6 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 chopped onion
- salt and black pepper to taste
- canola oil


Wash the skin of the squash really well, preferably using a scrub. If you can buy the squash already cut in half, it will make cutting the squash easier. At the store I bought this at, they only sold it in one whole piece. If you buy this squash at an oriental market, they usually offer cutting the squash for you before you go home. Once at home, cut the squash into sections. They do not have to be cut into small pieces.
 Remove all the seeds.
  Cook it in boiling water enough to cover
the squash for about 20 minutes or more. Test to see when it is soft using a fork.

 While the squash is boiling, chop your garlic and onions.
Then sautee the garlic and onions in canola oil.

Once the squash is cooked just remove that outer part on the middle that is kind of hard, and place everything else (including the skin) into your food processor or blender. Add water (the same used for cooking) for the desired consistency. Add the pureed squash back into the original pot that the squash was boiled in and turn on stove to medium heat. Add the sauteed garlic and onions. At this point, you can add more water if you desire a thinner consistency of soup. Add salt and pepper according to your preferred taste. You'll notice that you don't have to season the kabocha squash soup too much, because the kabocha squash if very flavorful in and of itself. It ends up being a low sodium soup, which is a nice plus.
This flavorful soup will warm your soul.

Thank you, Maggie, for sharing a wonderful recipe!

What is your favorite soup this time of year?