Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ridiculously Easy Cake Treats

If you are craving something sweet you can whip these up in no time. There are only a 2 ingredients (or 3-4 if nuts/raisins are added) in these recipes! I don’t usually cook with, or promote foods that have refined sugar, but after so many requests for easy and healthier dessert recipes, I figure these are better than opening a package of Hostess :)

Speedy Snack Cake

Light coconut milk works wonderfully in this recipe to make a really moist cake that is not overly sweet.


1 box spice cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
1 cup light coconut milk (which I get at Trader Joes)
1/2 cup pecan or walnut bits
powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)


Put the cake mix into a large mixing bowl and add light coconut milk (and the nuts if desired) and stir until completely blended into a uniform thick batter. Spray a 9 X 9 inch pan with cooking spray and spoon in the batter to coat the pan evenly. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Makes 16 servings, serving size 1 square (about 2 X 2 inches)

without nuts: Calories 136 Protein 1.7 g Carb 25 g Sugar 13.5 g Fiber < 1g Fat 1g Saturated fat < 1 g Sodium 216 mg

with nuts: Calories 161 Protein 2 g Carb 25.5 g Sugar 13.5 g Fiber 1g Fat 2.5g Saturated fat < 1 g Sodium 216 mg

Carrot Cake in a Flash

No time to fuss with making a carrot cake from scratch? This one is very quick and easy to make AND it’s low in fat too!


1 box carrot cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
1 cup light coconut milk (which I get at Trader Joes)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup pecan or walnut bits (optional)
powdered sugar (optional, to make a light glaze)


Put the cake mix into a large mixing bowl and add light coconut milk (and the raisins and nuts if desired) and stir until completely blended into a uniform thick batter. Spray a 9 X 9 inch pan with cooking spray and spoon in the batter to coat the pan evenly. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (You can make a light glaze by mixing a few teaspoons of powdered sugar plus some water until a very thin consistency is reached, if desired)

Makes 16 serving, serving size 1 square (about 2 X 2 inches)

without nuts: Calories 134 Protein 1.2 g Carb 26 g Sugar 13 g Fiber 0 g Fat 2.8 g Saturated fat 1.4 g Sodium 206 mg

with raisins: Calories 151 Protein 1.3 g Carb 29 g Sugar 17 g Fiber < 1g Fat 2.8 g Saturated fat 1.4 g Sodium 207 mg

with nuts: Calories 159 Protein 1.6 g Carb 26 g Sugar 13 g Fiber < 1g Fat 5.4 g Saturated fat 1.6 g Sodium 206 mg


Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas with Lime Cilantro Rice

I should name these, Trader Joes enchiladas because every ingredient I use comes from Trader Joes! These are fairly quick and simple to prepare, namely the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, one night I was watching a TV show, with a man in the kitchen teaching other men to cook for their wives in a very humorous manner. At one point he looks into the camera and says “now she may know that flavor of one soup and the flavor of another soup, but if you mix them together she won’t have any idea what it is!” Well, from this concept comes the sauce used in this recipe. Mixing the enchilada sauce, which is a bit thin and very spicy, with the thicker and milder marinara creates the perfect blend of flavor and consistency. If you don’t have a Trader Joes near you, or there is a store bought brand of sauce that you prefer to use straight up, feel free to sub that in for mine, just make sure to use 3 1/2 cups sauce total.



10 Corn tortillas (*get corn tortillas with no gluten of you are on a gluten-free diet)
1 cup corn, fresh, canned or frozen (I used Trader Joes frozen fire roasted corn)
One 14 ounce can of black beans
1 cup chopped red peppers (about 1 large pepper)
¾ cup chopped white onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic or 2 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon water
ICB spray or olive oil using olive oil sprayer (if both N/A use a teaspoon of olive oil)
½ cup of reduced fat shredded cheese of your choice (mozzarella, cheddar, blend *buy gluten-free brands such as Trader Joes shredded cheese if you are on gluten-free diet)
chopped avocado (optional for garnish)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large pan or skillet with ICB or olive oil sprayer (or drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil) and add the garlic, onions and peppers. Sauté on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes to soften. Add the corn, black beans and cumin and then sprinkle with the tablespoon water, stirring well to mix. Cook for another few minutes and then remove from heat and set aside. Start on the sauce next.


Mix the following two ingredients in a medium bowl.

2 1/2 cups Trader Joes traditional marinara sauce
1 cup Trader Joes enchilada sauce (*use a gluten-free sauce, such as Frontera brand if you are on a gluten-free diet)


Spread a quarter of the sauce to thinly coat the bottom of a 9 X 12 inch pan. Take the 10 tortillas out and microwave one or two at a time for 10-20 seconds to soften. Place each heated tortilla on a clean surface or cutting board and spoon 1/3 cup of filling inside. Fold up the sides and then place in the pan with the folded side down.

Repeat this step with each tortilla placing them side by side, very close to each other to make two rows of five.

Pour the rest of the sauce to evenly coat the enchiladas and bake for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Sprinkle the ½ cup cheese over them and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with a few thin avocado slices if desired and serve with lime cilantro rice (recipe below).

Makes 10 enchiladas, ten servings

Serving size 1 enchilada Calories 184 Protein 6.6 g Carbs33 g Sugar 3g fiber 5.5 Fat 3 g Saturated fat <1 g Sodium 588 mg

Lime Cilantro Rice

The fresh and tangy rice pairs really well with the hearty spice of the enchiladas.


2 cups cooked brown rice (I use Trader Joes frozen brown rice, a bag makes 2 cups exactly)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil


Cook the brown rice according to package directions to make 2 cups and put in a small bowl. Add the lime juice, olive oil and cilantro, stir well and serve.

Makes 2 cups , six servings

Serving size 1 cup Calories 93 Protein 1.5 g Carbs 15 g Sugar 0 g fiber 1g Fat 2 g Saturated fat 0 g Sodium 0 mg


Greek Inspired Sautéed Spinach

This is a nice way to liven up cooked spinach. It’s a great side dish, or you can use it in many ways to make a meal. Serve it over couscous or whole grain pasta for a nice dish. Pile it on top a whole wheat pita with some marinara sauce and bake for a Mediterranean pizza or add it in a grilled portabella for a Greek style stuffed mushroom!


10 cups chopped fresh spinach, rinsed well
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced shallots
1/2 cup finely diced Kalamata or black olives
1 tablespoon pine nuts
ICB spray or olive oil using olive oil sprayer (if both n/a use a teaspoon of olive oil)
4 tablespoons reduced fat feta cheese (optional, for garnish, *use gluten-free brand, such as Trader Joes if you are on a gluten-free diet)


Spray a small to medium sized pan with ICB or an olive oil sprayer or drizzle very lightly with a teaspoon olive oil and put on medium heat. Put in the shallots and sauté until lightly browned. Add the half of the spinach, stir in ¼ cup water and heat for about a minute until the spinach is slightly wilted (and there is more room in the pan!). Then fold in the other half of the spinach, cover and heat for another few minutes until the spinach is mostly cooked. Stir in the olives and pine nuts until mixed well and warmed with the spinach. Serve sprinkled with 1 tablespoon cheese.

Makes 4 cups, eight servings

Serving size: ½ cup Calories 120 Protein 9 g Carb 7 g Sugar 0 g fiber 3 g fat 8 g Saturated fat 2.5 g Sodium 580 mg

Without cheese ½ cup Calories 70 Protein 3 g Carb 6 g Sugar 0 g fiber 3 g fat 3 g Saturated fat 0 g Sodium 210 mg


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Skillet Potatoes

I thought this would be an appropriate beginning recipe to post because it was the first recipe I ever created, about a decade and a half ago. Back then my college roommate and very dear friend since 4th grade, Shannon, had a thing for potatoes. Well, she is a lovely Irish girl, so that makes sense. She particularly liked eating the breakfast potatoes at an oceanfront restaurant in Santa Barbara that we’d frequent so I took it as a culinary challenge to imitate them. And that I did- plus I managed to add in more veggies to make them healthier as well. I still get requests from Shannon to make these potatoes, even though it’s not possible now since we live 2 hours from each other. I hope she will appreciate the recipe to whip some up for herself to enjoy.


1 extra large white potato (approximately 6’ x 2.5’’) or 2 medium, scrubbed well (2.5 cups cooked cubed is needed, leftover baked potatoes in the fridge are great, easier to cut)
1 cup sliced red bell pepper (about 1 large)
¾ cup sliced while onion (about 1 medium)
½ cup diced tomato
½ cup corn (fresh, canned or thawed frozen)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional, for those who like some spice)
ICB spray or olive oil using olive oil sprayer (if both n/a use a teaspoon of olive oil)


If you are starting with raw potato- pierce with a fork and microwave on high until tender (about 8 minutes). Spray a large skillet or pan with ICB/olive oil sprayer or drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the peppers and sauté for a few minutes on medium heat. Then add the onions and corn, sauté for a few more minutes until just before brown. Remove from heat. Take the cooked potato (or leftover baked potato) and cut it into cubes and add it to the skillet along with the tomatoes and return to medium heat. Add a few more spritzes of olive oil sprayed or ICB and fold in the tomato/potato with veggie mixture to warm and lightly brown for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste (and red pepper if you like more kick) during the final sauté or at the table when serving.

Variation: You can substitute sweet potatoes to up the antioxidants in this dish or if you just like their taste better. This can be a low sodium recipe if no salt is added

Makes 3 cups, six servings

Serving size: ½ cup Calories 90 Protein 2 g Carb 20 g Fiber 2 g Sugars 3 g Fat 1 g saturated fat 0 g Sodium 5 mg


Sunday, December 28, 2008

A couple of tools to check out before starting to cook....

Before uploading some recipes, I thought I'd start with a few posts to provide some info on a couple of tools I often use when creating them. See the three posts below for the 411 on these tools- the Misto olive oil sprayer, ICB and Glad Simply Cooking Microwave steaming bags:


A little oil can go a long way using this....

This is a device that you fill with olive oil, pump the cap to pressurize and then it will lightly spray olive oil, similar to a cooking spray. No chemicals or propellants are involved. The manufacturer reports that MISTO® will spray approximately 1/4 teaspoon per second of spray. Based on 120 calories per tablespoon of olive oil this equals 10 calories per second of spray. And because only a second or two is needed, this usually amounts to 20-50 calories, which is much less than in a tablespoon of oil! It is also recommended that the MISTO® should be cleaned approximately every 6-8 weeks or every time you refill. I ordered mine on-line but I have heard they can be found at some stores such as Bed Bath and Beyond. There are others out on the market as well. For more info and FAQ’s on the MISTO® you can visit the manufacturer link here


I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® Spray (ICB) CAN.. be good!

ICB is a product I use often in place of regular cooking spray for cooking, namely for coating a pan to sauté or bake with. It has a nice buttery taste yet zero fat and calories and no Trans Fat per serving, as long as you stick to a serving, which is 1-5 sprays. Depending on the recipe, the max I would ever use is a teaspoon which = 25 sprays and that amounts to 20 calories and 2 grams of fat, which is still much lower than butter, margarine or oil. The key is to go easy on the sprays-a little goes a long way, and DO NOT pour! I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray (ICB) is found at most grocery stores in the refrigerated case next to all the other butter and margarines. For more info check out the company link click here

• Note, when you check out the ingredients on the label, you will notice that ICB is indeed a bit “synthetic”, so if you insist on something more natural, I would use a tiny bit of olive oil (i.e. a teaspoon) or even better, use olive oil via a sprayer device (like the MISTO® listed above), to use less.


Glad® Simply Cooking™ Microwave Steaming Bags

If you don’t like using a pot or have a Pyrex dish to steam veggies and such, these are disposable bags that you can fill, seal and pop in the microwave to cook away. No cleaning or mess and there is even a guide re: how many minutes to steam based on portion size. I will often use these to blanch, or pre-cook vegetables a bit before sautéing or using in a recipe to cut down the preparation time. They can be found at most grocery stores and most importantly the manufacturer states: “Microwave Steaming Bags are made with ingredients/plastics that comply with FDA regulations, and are safe for microwave cooking”. Do note that it is recommended that they are not re-used. For more info and FAQs you can visit the Glad website here


a few words about the recipes

My goal is to create an eclectic collection of recipes that all taste fantastically good, of course! But a few other things I promise to strive for are:

Originality: every recipe will be developed, written and tested by me, unless otherwise stated (such as a guest recipe, adaptation etc) which I will always give credit to.

Healthiness- please don’t let that scare you, taste comes first, remember? But why not have the best of both worlds! Every recipe will be healthy in one or many ways, whether it's low in calories and fat (which many are), high fiber, low sodium etc, I'll always list the nutritional analysis for each one and will often point out any other key goodies. If you would like some more info on calories, fat, etc.. the FDA has a great article about understanding nutriton labels, click here to check it out.

Simplicity- most of my recipes are relatively simple to prepare (I will warn you if there are any that in my opinion are a bit more difficult). If you like things really simple then try the subset of recipes labeled "ridiculously easy"- these ones may not be culinary masterpieces, but they are super easy, quick and taste pretty darn good for such little effort!

Versatility- I will often point out substitutions/additions for ingredients or different ways to garnish and/or serve the recipes, such that I can appeal to a variety of tastes and dietary considerations.

All the photos of the recipes are taken by me and are the REAL THING! I often will snap a pic right after I'm done cooking. For more on the recipe photos, click here


eNourishment-In the beginning there was……

Nothing! Yet… But you have to start somewhere don’t you? So here I go with my first post on my food and nutrition blog. Just thought I’d begin with a brief tidbit on the who/what/why of it all:

I’ve been working as a registered dietitian in private practice and managing a health research department for some time now, so my thinking naturally centers around being healthy. Of course this permeates my daily life too, namely when it comes to food and diet. I am always learning new info about nutrition, while at the same time I am constantly being asked by patients, family and friends about ways to eat smart. So I decided to start this blog as an online resource. Also, I love to cook, this has become a recent hobby of mine especially now that have wonderful husband that I can cook for, and who appreciates my creations after he has come home from a long day at work. Not to mention, I really enjoy entertaining good friends over a nice meal. My goal is to build a collection of original, nutritious AND tasty recipes to share with bits of random and quick, yet fun and applicable food/diet info mixed in. Your comments and questions are welcome, along with the sharing of your own healthy cooking tips and recipes. I am happy to have some guest posts. So subscribe to my blog, or just click on me every so often and I hope to offer a bit of eNourishment for your mind and your taste buds. Enjoy!


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