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Friday, September 16, 2011

Best Guacamole? Only 2 Ingredients Needed

Lots of chatter today about National Guacamole Day and what makes the best guacamole.  I've seen recipes with 10 ingredients and enough "goodies" to dilute-not enhance- the taste and flavor of's a crime.  Want to know the best guacamole recipe? Listen up--come closer--you're not going to want to miss's 2 words. Ready?

Avocado + Salt

That's it. Pure and unadulterated recipes allow us to actually TASTE the actual ingredient that's being highlighted. No need to accessorize this amazing fruit.  This is a family and fan favorite.

I've seen a lot of people slice their palms and finger tips by not following proper knife safety when preparing guacamole.  Check out this video by CHOW for the easy and safe way to remove the pit.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-Resnack

Found this adorable reusable snack pouch on Etsy-perfect for a little boy who loves his snacks and even more perfect for a Mom who doesn't want to use plastic baggies for said snacks!

I've never ordered anything from Etsy before, but things just may change today!

Have you ordered anything similar?


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cleats & Eats: Snacks from the Sidelines

Regan Jones from the Professional Palate takes over Robinsbite today as Football Week begins....

When my friend and (much admired) colleague Robin invited me to be a guest blogger here on her blog, I jumped at the opportunity. I admire Robin’s style, spirit for all things food and overall approach to communicating nutrition news. We are cut from the same cloth when it comes to our approach to making nutrition a “taste-first” topic.  

The fact that she does not share my ardent devotion to college football is something that I have chosen not to hold against her. It is, however, the reason that I am thrilled to step in as her guest blogger today to give the RobinsBite audience the seasonal food nod toward one of this country’s favorite pastimes - football.

College, NFL, fantasy, you name it... when it comes to football, my household is probably paying attention to it. (Ironically, I met Robin while living in Texas- the only place on Earth where people actual tailgate for high school football. It’s insane the love of football those wonderful Texans share with folks like me, born and raised in the Deep South where football truly divides families and decides elections. And frankly, I love Texas all the more for it!! But back to the topic at hand....)

I have come to realize over the years, though, that the problem with a season full of tailgating (or better yet “tablegating” for the poor lot of us who have either been displaced from our alma mater in distance OR have a couple of future football fans toddling around the house keeping us home) is that often the nutrition numbers don’t really add up in your favor.

Don’t get me wrong... I’m a big believer in that classic dietitian mantra of “all foods can fit.” But the question is... if you fit in too many fun foods this season, will you really fit into your jeans come Super Bowl?

I get plenty of requests every year to “lighten” a traditional tailgate dish... and I’m happy to oblige. In fact, I’ve just launched a season long #footballfriday bloghop on my blog celebrating popular tailgating dishes from bloggers across the web. But if you really want to score big not only on taste, but nutrition as well, you can look to those naturally nutrient-rich choices that are already fan favorites:  
  • In shell pistachios - In general, nuts are always a good choice because of their vitamin, mineral, protein and fiber content. Where people get into trouble is overdoing their portions (which can mean big calories!) The thing I love about in shell pistachios, though, is that the act of breaking open each pistachio is a natural way to slow down that “grazing” that can otherwise lead to excess calories.
  • Black Bean and Corn Salsa - This is one of my all-time favorites. It’s based on a recipe I tested while working in the Test Kitchen for one of Southern Living’s cookbooks. It’s always a hit, even alongside some of it’s heavier, dip competitors. Fresh salsas, whether made from tomatoes, corn, beans, mangos, peaches... you name it... are an ideal way to sneak in something fresh, veggie &/or fruit filled without making people feel like you brought the “diet dip.”
  • Fruit & Cheese tray - On this point, I differ with some cheeseheads in that I’m actually “pro” cubed cheese for this type of spread. I’ll confess that once you cube cheese, it does begin to lose its moisture faster, so beware of prepping too far in advance. Likewise, I recommend doing it yourself rather than buying pre-cubed cheese (I think the flavor and texture difference is totally worth the minimal extra effort.) Plus, by cubing yourself, you’re able to opt for reduced fat varieties, many of which now come in flavors and taste nothing like they did years ago (Yay! Score one for cheese lovers!) Because fruit is such a natural alongside cheese, here again you’ve offered your pals another nutrient-rich combo in the form of a fan favorite.
  • Roasted Veggie and Olive Antipasto - While traditional antipasto platters contain cured meats, I prefer an all veggie approach. Olives are a classic fixture, as are artichoke hearts. I add to that various roasted veggies (either roasted at home in a 450 degree oven until caramelized or picked up from the local deli). Drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar for low fat, high flavor... and can you say antioxidant powerhouse?
  • Grilled Chicken Skewers with Buffalo Sauce - As I said, I really hate to hit people over the head with the “this is lighter” notion. But nowhere is it more welcome in my books than ditching chicken wings (which frankly just don’t appeal to me as they’re mostly just poultry skin... *no thanks*), and instead opting for grilled chicken breast skewers and buffalo sauce. I mean really... what’s the appeal about wings anyway? It’s the heat in the sauce, right? This approach gives you that same appeal for far fewer calories.

I can’t really say whether the appeal of football season is the chance for my team to lace up their cleats and take a run at the championship, the opportunity to spend time with friends and family or simply a good excuse to break out the chip and dip bowl for some delicious eats... probably, it’s a combination of all of the above. I can say, however, that whatever the season holds on the field, lining up these choice clearly means winning “off” the field.       

Regan Jones, RD authors the blog The Professional Palate from her home in Georgia where she is actively grooming two young sons for a lifelong football devotion to her alma mater, Auburn University. (Just don’t tell her husband who is equally devoted to doing the same for their in-state rival.)

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Easy Back to School Dinners-RPK's Taco Salad

Back to school lunches-check. Carpool schedule-check. Homework-check. Now, what's for dinner?  This is the best time to whip out your 30 minute or less dinners and plan to rotate them for the first month or so until the craziness of back to school settles down. Make your menu, make a list and make sure the ingredients are within arms reach. 

Here's one of my favorite 15 minute dinners...can  be vegetarian or made with meat-its up to you.  

Photo credit: Lynda's Recipe Box
RPK's Taco Salad

Salad Greens-the deeper the color, the better-as much as you'd like
Chopped tomatoes-as many as you'd like
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup corn kernels (can be fresh of the cob or out of the can-be sure to rinse and drain well)
1/4 cup reduced fat Mexican blend cheese or Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salsa-as much as you'd like--this becomes your salad dressing
2 T low fat sour cream (optional)
2 T black olives
11-18 (depending on serving size) of blue corn or yellow corn tortilla chips ( I like Guiltless Gourmet Blue Corn chips or Costco's organic yellow corn tortilla chips

Layer in the following manner:
Lettuce, tomatoes, beans, corn, cheese, salsa, sour cream, olives. Crush chips on top of salad or place around salad and use as "scoopers". Feel free to throw on as many veggies as you'd like, too.

If you'd like to add lean ground beef or turkey, feel free to take out the beans and replace with the meat. Or, if you'd like a double shot of protein, leave the beans!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Why I Walk

Walking is a daily thing around here-thanks to our two large Labradors, Bo (age 6) and Charlie (age 3). Without their exercise, they are completely bonkers--pacing, panting, nudging, paw on laptop, crying--bonkers. The responsibility is mine and one that I see as dual in purpose--the dogs get exercise and I do, too.  

Charlie (left) and Bo. Could you say no to this? 

The device below is enough to get me to push myself to make my walk into a workout. You see, I'm what some call competitive (only with myself, no need to worry). If I can make those numbers climb to the 6, 7, 8 or 900's when walking the dogs, I'm satisfied. Every now and then, I've been known to break into a light jog--to which I'm sure the dogs find hilarious. Me + Running = hilarious

Best Mother's Day Gift Ever-my Omron pedmoter

While the excuses could be many--it's 100 degrees, it's raining, I'm tired, etc. etc., they do not work for the dogs. It's time I cherish with them as, like many dogs, they were my first children before my child was born. Our animals are members of our family-we celebrate their birthday/adoption days, they are in our family photos and we can't imagine life without them. We do our best to let them know how much love and comfort they bring to us each day. 

As I write this, I can't help but remember this image...

Hawkeye, there is no question how much love and comfort you brought to your soilder every day.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Open Apology Letter to my Tomato Plants

It's sad, isn't it. When I look at you, I want to cry. I'm sure if you saw yourselves in a mirror, you'd want to cry, too. Your withered, dry, unproductive state is enough to make anyone run to the closest Farmer's Market and search for the best homegrown tomatoes one can find.  I have to agree.   I know, I know, I made promises I couldn't keep....

  • You were planted a little late in the season. Okay, a probably more than just a little late...I'm going to say late May.
  • I failed at protecting you from the elements. Okay, it's been 100 degrees for the last 43 days in a row-nobody could protect you from the elements.
  • On occasion, I neglected to hydrate you properly. Okay, I traveled more this summer than I have in years and didn't create a watering program for you in my absence. My bad. 

I did, however, do a few things right for you.

  • You often were the target of Labrador urination attempts-but I was able to direct the elimination process elsewhere.
  • Stakes-I couldn't wait to stake you guys and you did beautifully-for a while.
  • Little hands and fingers found your leaves quite interesting and I spent quite a but of time redirecting those hands away from your precious harvest. (by precious, I mean SIX total tomatoes from 3 plants)

And while we're on that topic, seriously? SIX total tomatoes all year? You were so promising-with your little flowers that bloomed-just waiting for a burst of tomatoes to appear-that never did.  And those that I did harvest tasted...tasteless. What a disappointment! We were even poised with the video as we took our first-and last-bite. It tasted like nothing. 

Sorry, I digress.

So, tomato plants #'s 1-3,  I apologize for not taking better care of you this summer. Had Dallas not experienced its most severe heat wave on record, perhaps we would have had a fighting chance.

While I won't be needing any of the 25-things-to-do-with-fresh-tomatoes lists, I encourage those of you who had banner tomato crops this year to make sauce,  eat them like apples ans share with others.  Oh, I'm available to take them off your hands, too.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Through the eyes of a 5 year old: Cooking with Alex pt 4

Continue with Intern Laura Bartee as she details the final post in a four part series on a cooking lesson Robin hosted.


Recently Robin hosted a cooking lesson for a five year old little girl named Alex for her birthday. If you missed the three healthy desserts we made, click to see the blogs detailing how Alex made Chocolate Covered Bananas with Almonds, Baked Apples and a Summer Trifle.

Cooking with Alex was so much fun, but that fun didn’t end with the three desserts. Alex had two more activities planned that DIDN’T involve cooking.

First – Alex and Laura commemorated her recipes by decorating them with scrapbooking paper. Alex picked two decorate scrapbook pages per recipe, which Laura put together for her. Having these recipes decorated with pretty papers of Alex’s choice meant these recipes became an important possession for her – one that she is likely to keep and display for others. Now her recipes can be taken home with her and enjoyed in the future, along with memories of her fun cooking experience.





The second activity Alex participated in was flipping through Boddler Bites Food in a Flash cards with Robin. These cards have multiple foods for each letter of the alphabet on a card. As Robin showed foods to Alex, Alex replied if she liked the food or not. Many foods Alex had liked and tried, though some she said, “eww” to immediately. As Robin asked why she thought that food was, “eww” they were able have a conversation about foods she had tried and not liked, or foods she perceived as tasting bad that she hadn’t tried.

The cooking lesson was extremely fun for both Robin and Alex. Alex learned to make three new healthy desserts and tasted some new foods! Robin was able to focus the cooking lesson on a few important lessons she wanted Alex to learn. Some of these lessons were:


1. Fruit is a sweet treat on its own, but can also become the base of a dessert that doesn’t need a lot of extra sugar added. Dessert can be healthy, especially when made with fresh fruits.

2. Alex learned new cooking techniques – such as chopping walnuts with an age appropriate tool – a plastic knife. She learned to melt chocolate in a double boiler, while under supervision. She was able to participate in the cooking process, making her feel connected to the recipe and likely to want to make it again.





3. Alex’s senses were exposed to new flavors and textures, which is important for children (and adults!) to experience to expand their palete. Alex had never tried walnuts or almonds before and found she liked walnuts, but was unsure about the almonds. Smelling the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla were new to her nose and allowed her to “preview” some of the flavors she would be tasting in the finished dessert. Tasting the whipped cream while it was being sweetened taught Alex the process of adding sugar slowly and how sugar affects the flavor of the cream.

4. Robin encouraged Alex to complete parts of the recipe herself – even when she thought she couldn’t do it. She dipped the bananas into the chocolate and grated the nutmeg for the Baked Apples. She mastered the stuffing of the filling into the apples and decorated the berry trifle without any assistance. Alex saw each task through to the end, which is an important lesson for anyone.





5. Honoring hunger was taught to Alex through eating a healthy lunch prior to the cooking lesson and trying small samples of each recipe made. She knew when her tummy was full and was happy to take home the leftovers to share with her family. Dessert can be enjoyed in moderation, which was emphasized during the cooking lesson.

6. Most importantly, Alex was taught how to cook and be interested in preparing healthy and fresh foods!


This cooking lesson was a great experience for Robin, Alex and Laura. If you have any suggestions or experiences with cooking lessons for children, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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