Showing newest 17 of 18 posts from July 2009. Show older posts
Showing newest 17 of 18 posts from July 2009. Show older posts

Friday, July 31, 2009

Water: Why YOU should be drinking it!

I am always walking around with at least one of my Camelbak water bottles. Do they always get drank….um no. I do try and drink at least two of them today (but sometimes, I’d just rather drink…iced coffee…). I am always looking for more ways to drink water and I have found that cutting up some fruit and throwing it in my water bottle or glass just makes it more fun and even nice to look at. It also throws in a nice sweet flavor, depending on what you throw in. I always like to add a lemon or a lime and occasionally I’ll throw in strawberries, blueberries or even oranges. It really depends on what I have in the fridge.

Do you need to be swayed to drink more water? Here are 9 reasons to throw down a couple of glasses today and everyday.

1. Weight loss – It can replace sugary, calorie filled drinks. It can also be an appetite suppressant. Sometimes we think we are hungry, when we are just thirsty.

2. Heart Healthy – Drinking 5 glasses of water a day could help to lower your risk of a heart attack.

3. Energy – Being dehydrated zaps your energy and makes you feel tired. Being dehydrated can also make you feel dizzy, weak and lightheaded. Drink water so you are hydrated and ready for the day!

4. Headache cure – Not drinking enough water can be the cause of your headache. Drink a glass and it could go away!

5. Healthy Skin – Drinking water can make you look fresh and hydrated and even may clear up your skin.

6. Digestive problems – Our bodies need water to digest food properly. Drinking water could cure stomach acid problems.

7. Cleansing – Water flushes out toxins in the body.

8. Cancer – Drinking water has been shown to clean out the body and reduce risk for colon cancer and bladder cancer.

9. Exercise – Drinking more water will give you a better workout because you are more hydrated. Your body will be ready to move and lift those weights!

Drink up!!

For more info click here!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

HG’s Dan Good Turkey Chili

On Sunday we were walking through the food store and all the sudden it came to me, dinner was going to be turkey chili. I walked past the ground turkey meat and I just had a craving for it. I basically knew what I needed so I grabbed the 94% lean turkey meat, ran down the bean aisle and was ready to get it going. I knew that I wanted to make rolls to go with them (kind of a bread bowl sort of thing) so I would have to cook the turkey on low for about two hours. (You definitely can do it faster if you need to, but if you cook it low and slow if comes out waaayyyy thicker.) This is a Hungry Girl recipe that I just added extra lean ground turkey to.


  • 4 ½ cups canned tomato sauce (I use 1 big can of crushed tomatoes and 1 big can of diced tomatoes which comes out to be a little more than needed)
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes (if you do what I suggested above you don’t need this)
  • ¾ cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed to lower sodium)
  • ¾ cup canned kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • ½ cup jalapeno slices chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onions
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper chopped
  • 1 ¾ cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups chopped portabello mushrooms
  • 1 ½ tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsps crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Optional: Salt

Feel free to add more or less of any of the vegetables. I’ll usually just throw in the whole can each of the beans. I also like to buy the frozen mixed vegetables and throw that whole thing in, instead of just corn. Also I LOVE using frozen crinkle cut carrots (not only does it provide a great texture but it saves time because you don’t need to chop them!)


Place the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in a large pot with the ground turkey meat. Add the jalapenos, chili powder and cumin. Stir over low heat. Once mixture is heated, stir in the garlic and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add carrots and continue to cook over low heat. Meanwhile over medium heat cook onions, peppers and mushrooms for 3 to 5 minutes in a large pan with just a cup of water (and some salt). The onions and peppers should still be a little crunchy. Using a slotted spoon to drain any excess water and add the veggies to the pot.

Add the beans, corn and Worcestershire sauce to the pot. Mix well. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

Sprinkle some reduced fat cheddar cheese to add to the flavor in your bowl! Eat with baked chips or whole wheat rolls! (More on homemade bread to come in a future blog!)

For more on Hungry Girl recipes visit her web site!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Go Green: Buy a BPA Free Water Bottle!

Last summer I made the switch to a BPA free reusable water bottle. I was at our annual beach week in New Jersey when Danny’s sister came in with about four reusable water bottles. I was interested in them especially because they looked so cute in the bright colors and flip top straw. Also, I was kind of tired of lugging two huge plastic water bottles back and forth from work every day; not to mention the price of Poland Spring bottles really adds up!

I wanted to get one, but I needed to look into it first. What the heck does “BPA free” even mean??? Turns out there are A LOT of reasons to purchase a “BPA free” water bottle. The first one being, obviously, it is good for our environment. Every plastic water bottle you DON’T buy prevents it from being in a landfill.

The ABSOLUTE WORST water bottle you can buy is the one that most people DO buy, the one time use water bottle, like Poland Spring or Fiji. You are supposed to use them only once, but I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people use these things until they look like the leaning tower of Pisa. These plastic water bottles have been proven to leach toxic chemicals after repeated use. They also can grow harmful bacteria inside any cracks in the bottle, which is GROSS and NOT good for you.

The second type of water bottles people use are the reusable ones used by sports players or campers, but if they do not say “BPA free” they still can be made from a type of plastic that also leaches chemicals. If you put any type of hot liquid in them, or leave them in the car it could cause the chemical BPA to leach faster. (BPA is a synthetic hormone that can cause cancer.)

So your best bet is to find a “BPA free” or aluminum water bottle that will not break down and leach harmful chemicals into you or your family’s bodies!

After reading all of that I ordered my BPA free water bottle express delivery! The water bottle I ordered was this one. Not only will you be saving money and the environment, but you’re saving your health too!

* If you order a Camelbak, order one with a clear (instead of blue) top. They are easier to clean AND stay cleaner longer.

To learn more:

Also read:12 reasons to stop drinking bottled water

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fan Favorite: Spicy Barbeque Chicken Dip

This chicken dip reminds me of something that would be a big hit at a Super Bowl Sunday party; but there’s no need to wait all the way for football season to break this one out! The regular version of this recipe could be DANGEROUS, but the swaps make it figure friendly without sacrificing the taste at all. Don’t be afraid to bring this and the spiked pink lemonade to your next party!


  • - 4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts
  • - 16 oz (2 blocks) of fat free or reduced fat cream cheese (at room temp.)
  • - 10 oz fat free ranch dressing
  • - 10 oz hot sauce (like Frank’s red hot)
  • - 1 bag reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • - 1 13x9x2 pan
  • - 1 bag of baked tortilla chips


  1. Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil the chicken in a big pot. Cover and make sure it’s cooked through. (at least 20-30 minutes)
  3. Take the chicken out of the pot and shred it into small pieces with a fork.
  4. Take all of the above ingredients and mix them together.(save some cheese to coat the top.)
  5. Add the chicken in last. Sprinkle more cheese on top.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
  7. ENJOY!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Make Life Easier!

Since I am making lunch for my mom and I everyday, there are a couple of things that I have been doing to make my life slightly easier. First, before I even get to the food store I make a list. I HATE wandering aisle to aisle wondering what I was looking for (besides the fact I have a TERRIBLE memory and always forget something!)

We have been doing various sandwiches and salads, where usually pepper turkey, feta, chickpeas, hummus are the shining stars. I try to switch it up a little bit throughout the week sometime making a wrap or pita or just different types of salads. They always involve a meat, cheese and a carb so they will be balanced and keep us fuller for longer.

As soon as I get home from the food store I leave everything I need out on the counter and put everything else away. Also, I leave out any fruit or vege that needs to be washed and/or cut up. Immediately after the food store, I take the fruit first, cutting up any watermelon, cantelope, strawberries, honeydew, etc. I put them into different containers. They are ready for snacking!

If I didn’t do this then there is a high chance of them going bad and getting thrown away. I have found that this works best for my family because we just never get around to it if we don’t do it all at once, right away.

Next I do the vegetables, the carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers. I also will wash the lettuce then as well. After I wash and cut up these I will do either one of two things. During the school year I take all the cut up vegetables and put them in a HUGE container. Every night I put together my salad adding things that may make the salad mushy during the week like CRASINS, feta, roasted red peppers and obviously the lettuce. Over the summer I will throw together a couple of salads right away just because they will get eaten quicker.

I have found that doing everything when you get home from the food store makes it easier for healthy snacking and eating during the week. Taking the extra time at the beginning of the week will save you time later when things get crazy and hectic!

Get Creative with Craisins!

I have always had kind of an obsession with craisins, but I think this summer I have taken it to a new level. I put craisins in everything I possibly can, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, salad, pasta salad, muffins, banana bread, cookies and I am sure I could find more uses for it. They add a nice chewy, sweet, tart bite to whatever you are eating, and they make a great pair with feta (which is my true number one food obsession of 2009).

Not only do craisins taste great, but they have many health benefits as well. They are chock full of vitamin c and antioxidants which help strengthen the immune system. (Antioxidants are compounds that reduce free-radical, or oxidative damage. The kind of damage that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease.) They are heart healthy and also contain calcium which is important for your bones. And we all know craisins (cranberries) promote urinary tract health. For 1/3 of a cup there are 130 calories, 0g fat and 3 g of fiber, plus you are getting a FULL serving of fruits and vegetables.

So if that isn’t enough reasons to eat a couple of craisins…then I don’t know how else I could convince you! You can also find much more information on craisins at:

Here are a couple of my favorite recipes that include craisins:

Cranberry Blueberry Muffins

My Favorite (not so healthy, but great for a splurge) White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Oatmeal, cran-banana muffins

Feta, craisin, spinach salad

Not to mention my yogurt, banana, craisin, blueberries, strawberry, craisin parfait I make almost every morning!

Feel free to add them to anything else! Be creative with craisins!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Did you try the Spiked Pink Lemonade Punch this weekend? I brought it to my friend's engagement party and it was a HUGE hit! I shared the recipe with many people at the party. I brought all the ingredients and we put it in this drink dispenser. The pretty pink color makes it look great on display too! You HAVE to try this soon if you haven't already!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Get ready for happy hour!

I am heading to an engagement party this weekend and the only thing they would let me bring is the punch! My friend introduced me to this lightened version of a tasty Rachael Ray spiked pink lemonade punch. It is very simple and does the trick quite quickly! Ingredients:

1 bottle (750 ml) vodka or gin 5 cups crystal light lemonade 2 cups light cranberry juice 3 cups diet ginger ale Just stir and serve!

Enjoy the weekend! (Click here for the real version of this spiked punch!)


I always seem to get myself into trouble at Target because although they have such great deals, I always seem to walk away with triple what I went in to buy. Yesterday I was determined – I made my list in the parking lot and only had five things to buy. I was REALLY set on coming out with only five (or six) things.

I decided that I would go around backwards; I would start at the right of the store when I normally start on the left. I don’t really know why, except I thought maybe it would help me to stick to my list. When I was coming around to the last section of the store (so far sticking to the list) I realized I never really looked or paid any attention to the food section. I walked down the first food aisles and started looking at the granola bars. The granola bars were basically half price!! They had a box of Nature Valley (12 pack) and Fiber One (10 pack) for the price of a 5 pack at the supermarket. I quickly grabbed two each of those and continued down the aisle. I knew I was going to make cookies this weekend for a party so I went to look at the morsels. Those too, half price from the supermarket prices! I paid only $2.69! I was loving this, I kept going and found that basically every food item was cheaper. I didn’t get too much more since I did intend on sticking to a list, but I made a mental note to frequent target for more staple food items. Next time I fully will take advantage of the refrigerator section where I found cheaper milk, cheese (even Kraft was CHEAP!), ice cream, etc. So it’s back to Target next week, with a list of course!

Did you know about all of these great food deals?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hungry for HungryGirl!

A couple of years ago my friend introduced me to HungryGirl, Lisa Lillien. She is not a nutritionist, but she comes up with great amazing healthy food swaps for fatty foods. She just came out with her second cookbook, 200 recipes under 200 calories (which I need to get ASAP). Basically she makes recipes like fried chicken or Chinese lo mein using friendly ingredients, like fiber one original cereal. (It sounds really weird, but don’t knock it ‘till you try it!)

I really enjoyed watching her on the View, because everyone is skeptical until they try it (especially the cinnamon bun). One of my favorite recipes from the first Hungrygirl cookbook is Pad Thai. Sometimes I swap out my own things because she will use a meat-alternative and I don’t really like those. But it’s easy enough if she calls for soy meat crumbles to just use chicken or turkey meat.

Last summer I had a bridesmaid luncheon and we made all things Hungrygirl. We made Onion Rings (with a Fiber One coating), Pigs in a Blanket (uses reduced fat crescent rolls and reduced fat hot dogs), egg rolls (baked), and an eggplant dip. It does take a little bit of time, but it’s definitely worth it. Check out the article from "The View."

If you are hungry and you are looking for an alternative to foods like barbecue chicken, French fries, fried anything, look her up!

Picky about your pasta?

Slowly I have been trying to change my very Italian family to move to whole grains rather than white bread and/or pasta. Obviously white bread and pasta has its place because you simply cannot find all pastas and delicious breads in whole grain all of the time. (And Grandma Nicky does NOT go for whole grain at all, so white raviolis it is!) As much as possible it is good to have whole grain over white starches. You really can’t tell much of a difference once you have added a sauce and/or meat and vegetables.

The difference: Whole grain or whole wheat is full of fiber, which will keep you fuller for longer and aid in your digestion. Whole wheat pasta is less processed and has more natural nutrients from the grain.

Generally, if I am having pasta (any other day than Sunday) I will have whole wheat pasta. Now there are so many different types of whole wheat pasta, ziti, rotini, shells, egg noodles, etc.

I love boiling the ziti perfectly al dente, then in a sauce pan just throwing in a can of petite diced tomatoes, cut up eggplant, a little bit of spinach and some Italian herbs. Top it off with some grated cheese and you’re good to go!

You can also make a great pasta salad with the rotini, diced peppers, carrots, celery, feta or mozzarella. Feel free to add whatever you want, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, etc. Add some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and basil and eat up! Next party I go to I'm trying this recipe! Give it a try!

Nuts for NOFFS!

Two years ago, after I got engaged I started looking for wedding dresses. One summer morning I was watching the TODAY show (because I watch it EVERY summer morning!) and they were doing a segment for “Running of the Brides”. Basically, it’s a crazy sale that Filene’s Basement does a couple times of year in a couple of cities. They sell a range of designer dresses for 80% off of their prices. It is ridiculous!! Women line up hours and hours before and stampede the store, tearing dresses off racks. It becomes a bartering system and the only way in is to haggle.

It got my mind going, I started thinking, “I could do this…”. I knew I wanted a designer dress but I wanted to spend the money on other things. Anyways, I called my sister and 2 of my friends and got together our “team” (because you fully need a team, otherwise you don’t have a prayer.) We made shirts and got necklaces and were all excited to go down to Washington, D.C. for the morning.

We needed fuel to keep driving all of those hours, so I went on the internet in search of the perfect cookie. I found a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie that I changed around a little bit to make it even lighter. Basically they taste like a lighter, fresher version of the Fiber One chocolate granola bars, which means they are fantastic.

After much deliberation, and A LOT of deliriousness my friends and I named them, NOFFS (Nuggets of Friendship and Fun). Maybe a little (a lot?) hokey, but after that many hours in that car we were feeling it. We ate them the entire way down to D.C. and back….and they kept us going, obviously, because I not only ended up with one great dress, but TWO!

The website is the real recipe - below is my modified versions of them.


  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ c. canola oil
  • 1 1/4 c. Splenda granulated
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3.9 oz. single-serving cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 c. mashed banana
  • 3 1/4 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 bag semi sweet mini choc chips


In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine the oil and Splenda; beat well. Beat in egg whites and vanilla. Mix in the applesauce and banana, followed by the flour mixture. Stir in oats,mix well. Add mini choc chips Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 8-9 minutes at 350 degrees F. or until tops of cookies are slightly firm to the touch.

Notes: This recipe results in absolutely great-tasting soft cookies that are healthy enough to eat for breakfast!

Here is the website:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Got (Organic) Milk?

Recently, (as in Monday), we bought organic milk. My husband has really wanted to try it, but the 3.99 per half gallon price tag had really deterred me in the past. As I walked by the milk aisle while food shopping Monday, the organic milk packaging just stuck out to me. It looked so much nicer with its brighter packaging and cartoon looking picture on the front (okay so looks DO matter). I decided to give it a try for the week.

Now I have to confess, I am not a HUGE milk drinker. As a matter of fact, I have about a drop of the stuff a day (I do take a calcium supplement), which is why I wasn’t keen on spending the extra money. HOWEVER, Danny (my husband) LOVES milk, so when he came home later that night he was genuinely excited to try it. So what is the verdict you ask? I have received daily text messages (not to mention him telling me at home) since I purchased it on how “amazing” the milk is, according to him there is definitely a difference.

I was really interested if there really is a difference, so I went to the internet. There is a little bit of conflicting evidence between organic verse regular milk, so it’s really a decision you need to make for yourself and for your family. In general organic farmers use no sewage (ew) or synthetic fertilizer, they do not use antibiotics or milk producing growth hormones and they try to be better to the earth AND their workers. Besides all of those things, another positive is that organic milk lasts longer than regular milk because it’s exposed to high heat for a longer period of time, which kills the bacteria. Anyway, you decide, do the benefits outweigh the heavy price tag?

For more information visit:

Count It Out - Portion Control

Have you ever sat down with a snack, on the couch in front of the Real Housewives (of any city) and the next thing you know the bag of chips is GONE? This has happened to the best of us at the worst of times, but there is an easy way to put a QUICK stop to it!

The whole idea with snacking and eating in general is to have portion control (which is REALLY, REALLY hard), but this trick makes it easier. After you buy your snacks, pretzels, (baked) chips, rice cakes, etc, sit down with the whole bag (don’t be afraid!) and about 12-15 plastic sandwich bags, depending on how many portions the bag contains. (You can get even go to the dollar store and get the real cheapy ones.)

Next read the nutrition label at the top where it says “serving size”. It will say something like 1 oz. (about 7 pretzels); so take those 7 pretzels and package them in a plastic bag. Do this with the whole bag. You can look at the “servings per container” below it so you know how many bags you need. Sometimes you find stragglers at the bottom, just place one more in each of the bags you created! Now you can put them in your pantry and whenever you need a snack you grab ONE!

Do this with ALL your snacks and you will be perfectly portion controlled!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Amazing Find: Cookbook Stand!

Have you ever tried to make something using a cookbook and it would not stay open for anything? I have used random things (water bottles, canned vegetables, bricks) to try and keep it open AND to the page.

Finally someone gifted me the best thing ever, a cookbook stand! It makes life SO much easier. It holds the book open to the page, is tilted up so it is easier to view and has a cover so you don’t get tomato sauce (or whatever you’re cooking) on it!

Check it out!

Crazy for Couscous!

I love brown rice and whole wheat pasta. They are full of fiber, aren’t processed and keep you fuller for longer. I feel like I go through a box of rice a week because I pair it with EVERYTHING. Recently I felt like I needed to switch it up, so I wandered into Trader Joe’s. There I found something incredible in a cute little box, whole wheat couscous! You can serve it hot or cold. In one 1/3 cup (dry) serving there is only 220 calories, only 1 gram of fat and 7 (yes 7!!) grams of fiber!(According to for a 2,000 calorie diet you should aim for about 20 grams of fiber per day.)

It literally takes about 6 or 7 minutes to cook and is perfect with chicken, veges, steak, fish, as a main dish or a side! The possibilities are endless!

For some couscous recipes click


Drive Past the Drive Thru

For the past three weeks I have been helping out my mom and my sister with lunch and dinner. My sister has taken an interest in eating better and becoming more knowledgeable about food and cooking. (YAY!) Yesterday we went food shopping (not before making a list of what we needed so we wouldn’t pick up random things unnecessarily). When we got back to my moms house I prepared their dinner so my sister could cook it later on. ( I swear by Everyday Food's, Great Food Fast cookbook.)

Anyway, before I know it, it’s 6 o'clock, I’m driving back to Queens and I have no dinner for my husband and I. The point is, there is always the choice of “fast food” or drive ins, but it is almost as easy to prepare something quick and healthy at home. Making a smart choice and bypassing the MickeyD’s will benefit you in the long run. I try really hard to actually cook dinner a couple times a week, so I had about 30 minutes from start to finish. I threw some chicken in equal parts soy sauce and red wine vinegar, then threw in some chopped garlic, salt and pepper and VOILA! Ten minutes later I had cooked chicken, some whole wheat couscous (from Trader Joe’s, AMAZING, and cooks in 5 minutes), I paired it with a simple salad of lettuce and feta cheese and we had dinner on the table by 6:30.

It is just important to keep in mind there is always two choices to make, the easy choice that involves zero effort, and lots of TRANS FAT, or the one that requires slightly more effort, but will make you happier in the long run!


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