Monday, December 29, 2014

Antipasto Roll Ups

These are a perfect appetizer for holiday get togethers!

1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Large eggplant
8 pieces Thin sliced salami (Preferably nitrate free brands such as Applegate farms or Columbus - these are also both Gluten-free as well)
8 black or green olives
1 Reduced fat string cheese stick
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Mustard (optional)
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 425. Wash the vegetables and cut the tops and bottoms off of the bell peppers, then cut in half and take out seeds. Slice the eggplant into 1/8 inch thick rounds, to yield 8. Add the eggplant and bell peppers to a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and roast on the top rack for 15 minutes. Flip the veggies over and roast for another 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile chop up the basil and cut each olive in half. Cut the string cheese in half down the middle and then cut each half lengthwise into 4 strips for a total of 8. Cut the cooled peppers into eight squares. Here’s a pic pre-assembly… 
Assemble each roll as follows: lay down one piece of eggplant, one salami piece, red pepper, a bit of basil, a strip of cheese and two halves of an olive.  Add a dollop of mustard if desired and then roll up and place a tooth pick through the center.  Repeat 7 more times for a total of 8 roll ups.
Makes 8 rolls, eight servings
Serving size: 1 roll  Calories 70 Protein 3 g Carb 5 g Fiber 3 g Sugars 2 g Fat 4 g Saturated fat 1.5  g Sodium  180 mg


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe ReDux Post # 29: Trenette With Tomato Tarragon Cream Makeover!!

December’s Recipe ReDux is “Grab and Book and Cook!!” To celebrate The 42nd month of Recipe ReDux, we were challenged to pick a recipe on page 42 of a cookbook and make it healthier, plus give it our special touch. One of the first books I picked up was Vegetarian Pasta Cookbook by Sarah Maxwell- something that my husband had in his collection before we met. The recipe on page 42 was perfect- Trennette with Tomato Tarragon Cream. I love cream sauces but they are so high in fat so I was determined to work on this dish to make it lower in fat and calories, but to keep it yummy. The original recipe called for a large amount of cream (1 ¼ cup) and a lot of pasta to go with. I cut the cream down to only ¼ cup and added lightly sautéed red bell pepper and vegetable broth to enhance the flavor, and blended the sauce for a smooth velvety texture. I also sub-d garlic powder for fresh garlic and used zucchini in place of the pasta which really cut the carbs and calories- but I assure you this recipe was still big on taste. (If you are not a zucchini aficionado feel free to use spaghetti squash or even pasta if you wish). The recipe came out delicious and look at the difference in calories, fat and carbs!! The original recipe is great for a splurge and this remake could be eaten more often. Hope you will try it out and take a look at all the other page 42 themed recipes made healthy by the Recipe ReDux team!!

Original Recipe: Trenette with Tomato Tarragon Cream from “Vegetarian Pasta Cookbook: A Superb Selection of Delicious and Nutritious Pasta Dishes” by Sarah Maxwell, Chartwell Books 1996.


1 lb trenette (long wavy strips)
dash of olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
2 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp chopped, fresh tarragon
½ lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ¼ cups light cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve


Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and add the trenette with a dash of olive oil.  Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Drain, and return to the saucepan. Set aside, covered to keep warm. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, tarragon, and tomatoes. Saute for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally then stir in the cream. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, until heated through. Stir into the pasta, then serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

Serving size:  ¼ of recipe Calories 620  Protein 15  g Carb 93  g Fiber 5  g Sugars 7  g Fat 20  g Saturated fat 10  g Sodium 60   mg

My Version: !!


1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
¼ cup half and half
½ cup low sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
2-3 large zucchini or 4-6 small
salt and garlic powder to taste
parmesan cheese for garnish


Coat a large pan with the olive oil, add the peppers and sauté on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until starting to soften and brown. Then add the tomatoes, chopped tarragon and ¼ cup of the broth to the pan and heat for another 5-7 minutes. Then turn off heat and set aside to cool a bit. While the tomatoes/peppers are cooling, make the zucchini strips by peeling the zucchini lengthwise. (2-3 large or 4-6 small should yield about 8 cups.) Then, carefully transfer the cooled tomato/pepper mixture from the pot into a blender. If you have a smaller blender only add one half of the mixture at a time (you can put the other half in a large bowl until ready to blend). Add the second ¼ cup of broth and the ¼ cup half and half and blend on low speed for about a minute, until a smooth consistency is reached. Put the blended mixture back in the pan and simmer for 3-5 minutes on low heat. Heat the zucchini strips in a separate pan coated with 1 teaspoon olive oil for 3-5 minutes as well, until desired tenderness is reached. Add the cooked zucchini to a strainer and drain excess moisture and pat dry. Divide the zucchini noodle into 4 portions and add about ½ cup sauce to each. Add salt/garlic powder taste and garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Make 4 servings:

Serving size: ¼ of recipe (about 2 cups zucchini noodles with ½ cup sauce) Calories 100 Protein 2 g Carb 7 g Fiber 2 g Sugars 3 g Fat 7 g Saturated fat 2.5 g Sodium 30 mg


Monday, December 8, 2014

Gabby's Eats: Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower Salad Recipe

The inspiration for this recipe came from abundance, and when I say that I mean a surplus of cauliflower in the fridge!!  Gabby and I were sitting at the table and she wanted to do some recipe brainstorming. She asked me how I come up with recipes and I told her one of the ways I am often inspired is by what I simply have on hand in the pantry/fridge, namely what I need to use up.  She opened the fridge and said "we have a lot of cauliflower, let's make a salad" and I was all for it!  I asked her what she wanted to do with the cauliflower and after a bit of discussion it was decided that we would roast it but kick it up a notch by coating it with parmesan cheese.A bed of lettuce and dark greens was a perfect place for the cauliflower to lay once it was cooked and cooled and the sprinkle of the sunflower seeds was perfect to top it off. This cauliflower is even delicious by itself if you wanted to skip the salad.  I was proud of my little chef for coming up with this one...Enjoy!!


7 cups chopped cauliflower florets
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped kale or spinach
2 cups chopped romaine or butter lettuce
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray
dressing of choice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the cauliflower in a large bowl, add one of the tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Place the veggies on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and roast for 15 minutes (mom helped with the oven stuff!).  Then carefully transfer them to the large bowl, add another tablespoon of olive oil and the parmesan cheese and mix well. Return to the baking sheet and roast another 7-10 minutes until lightly browned and tender but firm when pierced with a fork.  

Allow to cool and then mix with the greens and sunflower seeds in a large bowl and toss with dressing of choice.  Chill if not serving immediately

Makes 4 servings

Serving size:  ¼ recipe Calories  200  Protein 9  g Carb 15 g  Fiber  5  g Sugars 4  g Fat 14  g Saturated fat 2.5  g Sodium 200 mg

Gabby in action....

Her final shot:


Thursday, December 4, 2014

In The News: Eating a Mediterranean diet may slow the aging process?!!

We are all looking for the fountain youth (especially here in LA!) as evidenced by the number and popularity of anti-aging skin care products on the market, not to mention the multitude of cosmetic procedures and surgeries that are sought out too!

In addition, there is increasing scientific research investigating anti-aging from the inside out...through diet habits and patterns. ( My colleague Cheryl Forberg RD wrote a fabulous book on this topic BTW!) And, an exciting study was recently released that adopting a Mediterranean dietary lifestyle could actually slow the aging process!

This study, released in the British Medical Journal, revealed that consuming the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomere length, an important marker of aging. Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes, which eventually shorten as we age. And shortened telomeres are associated with shorter life expectancy as well as increased rates of age-related chronic diseases. Therefore, having longer telomeres is a good thing as far as aging is concerned.  Data from 4676 subjects participating in the Nurse's Health Study was looked at in which all of the subjects, healthy middle age women, completed detailed food questionairres and then did a blood test to determine the length of their telomeres  The results showed that better adherence to a Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with longer telomeres.  No one isolated component of the diet was able to be linked to this result, but rather the dietary pattern as a whole (high intakes of whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies fish, nuts and olive oil, regular but moderate intake of alcohol and low intake of dairy, red meat and saturated fat) was responsible.

The magnitude ot the results is limited by the design of the study, being cross-sectional, only measuring telomere length at one point in time and also the sample cohort of women was primarily of European descent.  The researchers point out that genetics may play a role in the variations in telomeres, but the impact of diet is very intriguing and needs to be looked at further.

Either way, there is A LOT of other positive evidence out there already in terms of the Mediterranean diet and it's health benefits, namely with respect to cardiovacular health and weight management. Anti-aging effects may just be another attribute too which is exciting!!

I'm pleased to note that many of my recipes feature the foods from the Mediterranean diet or center around this theme :) A few of my favorite recipes are Eggplant Stacks and Rice Salad!!


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