Friday, August 29, 2014

Gabby’s Eats: Simple Summer Salad

One of the best things my daughter and I did this Summer was to plant a small garden on our patio.  We bought an awesome Gronomics elevated raised bed planter online, got some good organic soil and seedling plants at Home Depot and it was all done in a few hours!

A little water each day and the garden took care of itself, thriving in no time.  It became a habit of mine to water it in the early morning before leaving for work at dawn, therefore I never really got a detailed look at it’s the progress  since I was in a hurry (and it was barely light out). So when Gabby and I went out this afternoon in the bright sun to water it and get a good look we were shocked to find 4 whole cucumbers had grown and were ready to  pick!  Gabby was super excited and announced she wanted to make up a salad recipe using them ASAP.  We grabbed a handful of fresh basil from the garden as well and got to work in the kitchen.  

A non- lettuce chopped style salad was Gabby’s plan so we washed and cut up tomatoes and carrots in addition to the cucumbers and complimented them with some diced basil, olives and a basic oil and vinegar dressing. 

I was delighted to see that Gabs could not stop snacking on the veggies as she prepared them and had two servings of the salad as well!  It’s a easy and healthy way to have a serving of fresh veggies. As we are nearing the end of Summer on this holiday weekend, it is a perfect time to throw together a simple, fresh and tasty salad like this one as a nice side to your accompany all your BBQ main dishes.

Gab's Shot:


2 cups chopped cucumber  
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tablespoons diced fresh basil
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped olives (we used green and kalamata)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Add the chopped veggies and olives to a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and pour it over the salad.  Mix well to evenly coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and eat!  Chill if not serving immediately.

Makes 5 cups, 4 servings
Serving size: a little over 1 cup Calories 90 Protein 1 g Carb 10 g Fiber 2 g Sugars 6 g Fat 4 g Saturated fat 0 g Sodium 330 mg


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Introducing a brand new Segment: Gabby’s Eats ....There’s a new little blogger on Net and Her Recipe Debut is Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Popsicles!

There have been many segments that I have added to this blog over the years but this is probably one that I am most excited about.  “Gabby’s Eats” was born out my love of developing recipes/blogging and wanting to involve my daughter in this creative process. I started this blog on Dec 28, 2008 and found out I was pregnant just a few short weeks after, so technically my daughter Gabrielle (aka Gabby) has been along with me the entire time.  As she has been growing up I have noticed her interest in cooking, recipe writing and blogging has been increasing. As a toddler she would want to be near me in the kitchen banging pots and pans and taking a peek at what I was making. Then when she became a preschooler there was more watching, making up pretend recipes, plus asking questions and begging me to help plate the food and take photos when I was creating a post. I let her help here and there but always feel a bit guilty that she was not getting more out of it since I am so busy and trying to move quickly.

Now that she just began elementary school, I recently decided it sure would be a good idea to actually get Gabby totally involved in my cooking and blogging in a more concrete way.  One typical weeknight and I was rushing to get dinner on the table and Gabby was doing what she often does, “cooking too” only in her play kitchen, which I purposely have located right next to mine.  She called out to me that she was making “the latest and the greatest new recipes” and began bringing me pretend tastes and samples.  Then, as usual, she tired of her make believe culinary world and asked to help me with dinner prep but being too busy I had to appease her with my usual “next time honey”  and she sadly went back to her pretend space.   When we finally sat down to eat,  and the idea hit me hit me and I asked her “would you like to make up REAL recipes with mommy?” Gabby’s face lit up so brightly and she belted out an emphatic “YES!!!”

We talked about how the purpose of mommy’s blog was to cook healthy food that also tastes great because both are important.  Then I asked her what healthy yummy recipe would she first like to make up.  “Chocolate chip popsicles” was the reply.  We got out a new little notebook and brainstormed while eating our dinner. I mentioned that there are healthy things about chocolate but only to a certain degree so we came up with adding yogurt and peanut butter to the mix too and this recipe was born.  Getting my daughter into the whole creative process of developing a recipe, testing/tasting it, figuring out its nutrition facts using an analysis program and blogging about it from start to finish was magical for us both.  She learns to create, cook, use the computer and camera and I not only get to spend time with her and teach her about healthy eating, but I also get some new recipe ideas from my little helper as well- a WIN WIN!

Hope you enjoy this recipe and look out for more upcoming Gabby’s Healthy Eats posts of original, nutritious, easy and fun recipes (not to mention the whole creative process) that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

PB Chocolate Chip Yogurt Pops

This is a salty + sweet creamy treat that even has a bit of tang to it (think Pinkberry!) The chocolate chips want to sink to the bottom so you can blend them in with other ingredients as another option. 

(This photo taken and edited by Gabby herself!)


12 ounces of vanilla lowfat yogurt (we used and highly recommend Trader Joes organic)
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter  
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoon mini chocolate chips
¼ cup milk (we used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
dixie cups, popsicle sticks and plastic wrap


Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and mix on high until a smooth mixture is formed.  Or another option is to blend the ingredients and then mix in the chocolate chip whole (but they do tend to sink to the bottom- both versions are pictured above). Pour the mixture into six Dixie cups.  Carefully place the filled cups in a container (a mini muffin tin works well) cover with plastic wrap, poke holes in it and add popsicle sticks in the center of each cup.  Freeze for 4-6 hours until solid and enjoy!   

Note: You can also freeze without the sticks, remove from the Dixie cups let soften a bit and eat in a bowl ice cream style which is delicious too!

Makes 6 pops, six servings

Serving size: 1 yogurt pop Calories 130 Protein 4  g Carb 17  g Fiber 0 g Sugars 9 g Fat  5 g Saturated fat 1.5  g Sodium 50  mg


Thursday, August 7, 2014

More Cool Cranberry Facts and Another Guest Post Recipe From The Cranberry Institute: Cranberry Spinach Salad with Avocados

 (Photo Courtesy of the the Cranberry Marketing Committee)

I was happy to get another package in the mail from the Cranberry Institute this month with some great ingredients to make a delicious and nutritious spinach salad recipe they developed.  Check it out below along with some more interesting cranberry facts/ food tips they were kind enough to pass along!

Tips: Four Things You May Not Know about Cranberries

·         Scientists have shown that flavonoids give fruits, like cranberries, and vegetables most of their antioxidant properties and that a flavonoid-rich diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
·         Drinking 8–16 oz. of 27% original, low- or no-calorie cranberry juice cocktail each day is recommended to maintain urinary tract health and prevent urinary tract infections.
·         Dried cranberries are a good source of fiber with 2.3 grams per 40 gram serving (10% of the Daily Value)!
·         One-quarter cup of dried cranberries is equal to ½ cup of fruit, according to MyPlate.

Tricks: A Few Cranberry Summer Salad Combinations to Try

Add the following to your favorite greens for a fresh summer salad worthy of any barbecue or picnic.
·         Dried cranberries, garbanzo beans and carrots
·         Dried cranberries, orange slices and chopped broccoli 
·         Dried cranberries, cucumbers and feta cheese
·         Dried cranberries, green peppers and black beans
·         Dried cranberries, black beans and corn kernels
·         Dried cranberries, chopped pears and celery

Science Bites: News from Cranberry Scientists

Updated USDA-Reviewed Cranberry Health Research Review
The USDA recently reviewed an updated cranberry nutrition and health review published in the Cranberry Health Research Library on 

The review highlights the results of hundreds of analytical, laboratory, epidemiological, and human clinical trials. The areas of focus include the most recent published research studies and consensus regarding cranberries and:
·         Urinary tract health
·         Oral and gastrointestinal health
·         Cardiovascular health
·         Drug nutrient interactions

The review concludes that more than 350 research papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals about cranberry and its nutritional and health benefits. Collectively, they show that cranberries provide unique health properties that have anti-adhesion, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Further research is needed to fully understand the bioactive compounds present in cranberries, the mechanisms of action, and optimal dosage and duration for desired health effects.

PACs in Cranberry May Slow Digestion of Carbohydrates
Cranberry juice is known to contain myriad bioactive compounds that may help improve blood sugar control by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates. Now, researchers have reason to believe that the specific tannins in cranberries, referred to as proanthocyanidins (PACs), may be more effective at blunting blood sugar responses compared to tannins isolated from other fruits and cocoa.
The researchers isolated tannins from pomegranate, cranberry, grapes and cocoa to test their individual effectiveness at inhibiting the activity of certain enzymes that play a role in carbohydrate digestion (α-amylase and glucoamylase). Each of the tannins inhibited the enzymes in varying magnitude. In general, larger and more complex tannins, such as those in pomegranate and cranberry, more effectively inhibited the enzymes than did cocoa tannins. By inhibiting the enzymes, carbohydrate digestion is slower; therefore blood sugar control is improved. 
Barrett A, Hughey CA, Straut C, Howell AB, Ndou T, Dai Z, Kaletunc G.Inhibition of a-amylase and glucoamylase by tannins extracted from cocoa, pomegranates, cranberries and grapes. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jan 5
Our Favorite Recipe Right Now!

Cranberry Spinach Salad with Avocados
Yield: 4 servings

Dressing Ingredients
4 Tbsp. cranberry juice
2 Tbsp. dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp. canola oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad Ingredients
1/3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 small head of frisée lettuce
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced


1.       Place cranberry juice and dried cranberries in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in vinegar and Dijon mustard. Gradually whisk in canola oil so the mixture becomes a dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2.       Rinse spinach and frisée; spin dry. Remove thick stems and cut larger leaves into bite-size pieces. Add avocado and onion slices.
3.       Gently toss salad ingredients with the dressing and serve.

Tip: If preparing in advance, sprinkle avocado slices with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Mix the salad ingredients with the dressing just before serving to keep the leaves fresh and crisp.

Nutrition Information Per Serving*: Calories 320, Calories from Fat 250, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Total Fat 29g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 125mg, Total Carbohydrate 18g, Sugars 6g, Dietary Fiber 9g, Protein 3g, Vitamin A 70%, Vitamin C35%, Calcium 10%, Iron 10%

*Excludes Salt and Pepper

Recipe courtesy of the Cranberry Marketing Committee

Cranberry Institute
P.O. Box 497
Carver, MA 02330


Friday, August 1, 2014

August is Kids Eat Right Month!

Hey everybody!  Just an FYI....., the month of August is Kids Eat Right Month - "a new nutrition campaign spotlighting healthy nutrition an active life styles for children and families, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its foundation".  For some great info on kids nutrition check out their site I have contributed recipes to it in the past and there is a lot of great general kids nutrition info on there as well!  Also check out my kid friendly recipes HERE- just in time for back to school!!

 a new nutrition education campaign spotlighting healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for children and families, from the Academy of  Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation


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