Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do You Know What a Haystack Is?

If you have grown up or lived in the Loma Linda area...or if you have grown up or hung out in the Christian community, specifically in the Adventist know there are two dishes that are absolute favorites!  One is the infamous Special K Loaf (or cottage cheese loaf) AND the other is Haystacks!!  Both are definitely delicious and depending on who makes it or puts it together, it can differ in its numerous, endless variations.

What I'm going to feature here is the easy-to-make, delicious, and nutritious haystacks.  I'm not even going to put the recipe here, because this can be made in whatever manner you like.  Haystacks are basically like a taco salad.  You need a good "base".  The "base" is usually corn chips or corn tortilla chips. I love using Fritos...and I was so happy to find low sodium Fritos that still retain is scrumptiousness.  Then the next layer can be any type of beans or veggie ground meat or the real deal if you'd like. I like to buy low sodium pinto beans, season it with McKay's beef like seasoning and a little garlic salt, chopped onions, and mash them all up while being heated. That only takes a few minutes and I have "refried beans" to put on my second layer of my haystacks.  Then chopped lettuce of any kind can serve as the third layer. After this layer, anything else goes. Then the rest of my favorite "toppings" are chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped olives, and shredded Mexican combo cheese. (Although, I did forget to add them when I took this picture, but it still tasted delicious!) The last layer of my "finishing touches" consisted of using this time a small dallop of Greek yogurt instead of sour cream like others use.  I also like using a little bit of El Torito's Cilantro Pepita dressing and salsa.

Having haystacks to serve to your family and friends will always satisfy everyone. It does not take long to prepare, but yet you're able to provide this tasty dish packed with a lot of nutrition.


Any good memories out there with haystacks growing up?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Available for Nutrition Counseling

Helping, coaching, or counseling people one on one on nutrition has been a passion of mine that has never died for the almost past twenty years. If anyone ever asks you, do you know of a registered dietitian who I can see to get nutrition counseling from, could you kindly direct them to my website? The website will contain information as to what services I offer and how to get in touch with me. Either you, your friend, acquaintance, or family member does not have to live in my state, because I would be more than happy to help you or them via Skype or on the phone...however, the individual does have to live in the U. S. of A. Thank you ahead of time!

My website can be found at

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vegetarian Beef Tip Casserole with Amaranth Recipe

As usual, I was at one of my favorite markets, Clark Nutrition store, when I eyed "homestyle beefless tips" by Gardein.  I immediately thought, hmmm...what I can I do with this?  So the following is what I came up with...something easy and quick to prepare. 

I also decided to pair up the veggie beef tips with a grain I personally have never tried before, which is amaranth. I discovered that's it's fun to pop amaranth! Amaranth does have a fair amount of protein; however, it does not contain all of the essential amino acids. On the other hand, individuals with celiac disease do appreciate amaranth even more, because it does not contain gluten.

1/4 cup of Amaranth
3/4 cups of panko bread crumbs (I always look for the one lowest in sodium)
1/2 of an onion sliced
1/2 bag of tator tots
9 oz vegetarian beef tips
1 can 10.75 oz of cream of mushroom soup with garlic
1/4 cup of almond milk
1 container 6 oz. of vanilla Greek yogurt
1 tsp of mushroom seasoning
1 tsp of ground black pepper
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven at 375 degrees.

You will prepare the toppings first.  Heat a frying pan and make sure it is hot. You can test to see if it is hot by splattering a little bit of water on the pan. The water should immediately sizzle and disappear. When you are sure the pan is hot, place a small amount of the amaranth and not the whole 1/4 cup of amaranth. With a wooden spoon, move the amaranth around allowing the amaranth to go around in circles. The amaranth should start "popping". When the small amount is popped, place it in a bowl and pop the rest of the amaranth, but again, in small amounts. If you put all of the amaranth in the pan at one time, it will not pop. Once all of the amaranth is popped, mix it with the panko bread crumbs and lay it aside.

In a small rectangular casserole dish, place one layer of tater tots at the bottom of the casserole dish. Place the vegetarian beef tips on top of the tator tots. Place onions in between or on top of tator tots and veggie beef tips. Mix the almond milk with the cream of mushroom soup until the mixture is nice and smooth. Then place this mixture on top of the tator tots, vegetarian beef tips, and onions by spreading it out as best you can. Then spread all of the Greek yogurt on top of this mixture. Sprinkle the mushroom seasoning and black pepper all over on top of the mixtures. Place all of the mozzarella cheese on top of the mixtures. Once the cheese is evened out on top, the last layer you will place is the amaranth and panko bread toppings. Sprinkle this all over on top of the mozzarella cheese layer. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for about ten minutes or so and you are ready to eat! Enjoy!

In what ways do you enjoy amaranth?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Personally Speaking

I know...I haven't written anything about running at all in a while. I am still running though!  In fact, I'm training for my second full marathon coming up in June. However, I believe I have found the complementary activity that has been helping me feel more fluid in my running. This would be yoga...power yoga that is.

I first want to back track and say that I was a very shy yogi.  I thought I would never ever go to a yoga class, because I would just be so embarrassed that I couldn't touch my very own toes. In addition, I would be afraid to fall into someone else or even all over myself.  So on and off for a while there, I would just do the very helpful beginner yoga DVDs in the privacy of my own home where no one would see me make a complete fool of myself. I actually enjoyed it, because I felt a little more flexible, less tight, and comfortable in my skin.  It also helped me feel relaxed.

Well, fast forward to almost three months ago. I had been talking to friends and students who go to yoga.  They not only go to just yoga, but they go to...oh and this mortified my brain cells...heated or hot yoga.  What?!!!  I thought that was ridiculous.  However, the results of how incredibly amazing and more flexible everyone has reported really peaked my interest and curiosity to the max.  I wondered how on earth could this be?  Anyway, all these encouraging words by everyone led me to join a small yoga studio.  I went there for seven weeks.  No heat there, but it was a good place to feel safe with no heat and just a few students.  I loved it so much!  I really felt relaxed and de-stressed.  I was thankful for the beginner yoga DVDs, because I didn't feel lost or out of the loop.  I sure knew what it meant to do a downward dog and a warrior one, two, and three!  I felt at home.  Thank you to the begnniner DVDs.

Then I decided to take it another notch.  I was getting braver!  I decided I should see what this heated power yoga ordeal is all about. Oh WOW!!!  I never thought my body could really produce that much water coming out of me.  I thought I would feel like I was going to die, but surprisingly I didn't!  Instead, I loved the challenge and I love the way I feel so amazing afterwards!!  I have mountain and road biked, run, swim and play racquetball and definitely have felt a high, but this high or amazing feeling I feel coming out of heated power yoga is all on its own category.  

I really thought I was doomed to being inflexible for the rest of my life, but that I was all my fault.  I never put effort into serious stretching.  I can now say I am much more flexible, not as flexible yet as many other people around me in class, but who cares.  I have made progress and will continue to do so.  I know you'll be able to if you had my same issue.  If you're wanting to get into yoga to de-stress  yourself and to be more flexible with strength, go for it!  For "shy" people like me, it did help me to do the beginner videos at home first before I "graduated" to going to a class.  I wish I didn't let my shyness get in the way. I wish I had gotten into yoga many, many years ago. Yoga has been beneficial not only in my running, but in other ways.  You can benefit from it too. I'm not a professional writing about this nor do I have any credentials to give me the right to talk more about yoga, but from my humble personal experience I want to encourage you to give yoga a try and to reap the wonderful health benefits it provides.

 What type of yoga do you do?