Mini Banana Bread Loaves with Flaxseed

This recipe for Mini Banana Bread Loaf has to be one of my all time favorites for so many reasons. First, it’s an awesome recipe and makes moist flavorful bread perfect for breakfast or a snack. It is also so healthy because it is made with nonfat Greek yogurt and ground flaxseed. I am a huge fan of using nonfat Greek yogurt because it has no fat, very few carbohydrates and is high in protein. Flaxseed is often called the “most powerful” plant food there is. It’s linked to so many benefits including reducing cholesterol, menopausal symptoms, constipation and arthritis. It also aids in protection against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Lastly, you don’t even need a mixer so cleanup is a snap. When I taught the Kid’s Cooking Class a week ago in Park City, this recipe was a huge hit!

10 Ways to Avoid Cravings

While I was out of town in Park City last week, I realized that I never craved or had one Diet Coke. I usually think of myself as pretty healthy, and a mostly “clean” eater, but over the past few months I have an off-and-on again relationship with Diet Coke. I am only talking about one a day, but still, I try to keep soft drinks at a distance. It really got me thinking about cravings. Now, you might think I’m being silly, but everyone does have their particular “vice” whether it’s candy, chocolate, chips, French fries or even soft drinks. To help you and me, I thought I would jot down some tips on how to avoid cravings:

1. Don’t give in– One of my friends once told me that the more sugar (or salt) you eat the more you crave it. This is so true. Once I start with Peanut M & M’s, I can’t stop, and I continue to crave them until they are completely out of my house. Don’t buy them, and you won’t be tempted as often.

2. Note your trigger foods– Take note by writing down what your “trigger” foods are. Then, stay away from them. Awareness will help you think twice when you crave your trigger foods. Keep your “trigger” foods at bay, and don’t bring them into your house or surroundings.

3. Stay in control– If you are surrounded by your trigger food at a party or at work, keep control.  For example, if it’s a doughnut, take a small bite or portion if you must, and push the plate away when you’re done.

4. Eat protein along with fat (healthy fats)– Eating snacks that contain protein along with fat will keep you satisfied longer. If you’re craving ice cream or sugary desserts, opt for Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, reduced-fat cottage cheese or fresh vegetables with hummus.

5. Bake something healthy– I love to bake homemade granola or mini muffins to have on hand. Homemade fresh baked goods are a wonderful substitute for junk food.

6. Stay on schedule– Try to eat 3 meals a day and two healthy snacks, so you don’t get overly hungry. Staying on a schedule will help curb cravings.

7.  Drink water and chew gum– A friend once told me this helped her stay away from eating while she was cooking. It helps when you have cravings too.

8. Make homemade smoothies– Use fresh fruit, fresh juice, Greek or low-fat yogurt to make fresh smoothies. These are a wonderful alternative to sugary desserts.

9. Drink green tea– Green tea is filled with so many healthy benefits. Substitute it for that afternoon soda, coffee or packaged snack (I need to do this more).

10. Don’t deprive yourself– Eat something healthy at the end of each meal or occasionally award yourself with a “splurge” meal. My friend, Sandra, brings dark chocolate to every lunch date we have. She eats it at the end of her meals so she satisfies her sweet tooth.

 

Easy and Healthy Beef and Broccoli

My three kids love Asian flavors. This easy and healthy Beef and Broccoli recipe is a hit every time that I make it. It’s so quick to prepare using very simple-to-find ingredients. I love using skirt steak as it’s very tender after being simply marinated with honey, fresh ginger, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Just marinate the steak for an hour or overnight, and dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes. This dish is perfect for busy weeknights. I served with rice and some edamame beans, and everyone loved it (and was full).

Oreo Cupcakes

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! This is my last dessert for a while, but I wanted to share this recipe for Oreo Cupcakes which has been lightened up. The cupcake part of the recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine. In their recipe, they sprinkled the cupcakes with powdered sugar, and they are great. I love extra chocolate flavor so I slathered mine with chocolate frosting and of course, an Oreo. If you don’t have time to make your own frosting, you can substitute the store-bought icing. The total calories per serving for the cupcake is 150 calories, 5 grams of fat and 24 carbohydrates. Enjoy and have a fun and wonderful Valentines!

“Take Out” Food Ideas for Super Bowl Sunday

I was recently asked by the Editors of Magic City Post, to write a Super Bowl feature for their site on my favorite pick-up or to-go foods in Birmingham. I had many friends ask me to share this list on my site as well, so here you go. For those of you not in Birmingham, I am hopeful this will spark you top picks for buffalo wings, great appetizers and desserts in your home town. This list is great if you are short on time this weekend like I am. I am at my daughter’s dance competition out of town and won’t be back until right before game time. Go Steelers!

APPETIZERS

-Guacamole, fruits and vegetables, Whole Foods Market, Mountain Brook

-Queso dip and quesadillas, La Paz, Crestline Village in Mountain Brook

-Elkmont’s Belle Chevre goat cheese, shown at right, Whole Foods Market, Mountain Brook

-Mozzarella sticks, Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria and Neighborhood Pub, Crestline Village in Mountain Brook

-White pimiento cheese, Piggly Wiggly

MAIN DISHES

-Buffalo wings, Billy’s Bar and Grill, English Village in Mountain Brook and Liberty Park in Vestavia Hills

-Chicken fingers and cheese biscuits, Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

-Mini-Reuben or any deli sandwiches, Max’s Delicatessen, Colonnade

-Marinated steak and chicken kebabs to grill, Fresh Market

-Pizza, Bongiorno Italian Restaurant, Crestline Village in Mountain Brook

-Friday-Sunday chicken penne pasta special, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

DESSERTS

-Pie (any flavor), Johnny Ray’s BBQ

-Baby Bites, Pastry Art Bake Shoppe, Homewood

-Strawberry Signature Iced Cake, Ashley Mac’s, Bluff Park in Hoover and Cahaba Heights in Vestavia Hills

-Cupcakes, Dreamcakes Bakery, Edgewood in Homewood

Hot Artichoke Dip with Black Eyed Peas

Artichoke Dip is just about everyone’s favorite appetizer recipe, and I am always looking for ways to turn and twist it to make it different. This Black-Eyed Pea-Artichoke Dip combines artichokes, bacon, black eyed peas, Greek yogurt, reduced-fat mayonnaise and mozzarella cheese to create a warm dip that’s perfect for this time of year. I served this on New Year’s Day, and I thought it would be a perfect addition to anyone’s list to serve on Super Bowl sunday.

Super Bowl Appetizer and Party Tips: Brie with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

One week from today is the Super Bowl, one of the most fun sporting events of the year. I filmed a Super Bowl television cooking segment for NBC “Daytime Alabama” which will air next week, making four easy appetizers. This 5 ingredient recipe for Brie with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil is a cinch, taking only 20 minutes to prepare. Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl tips for hosting your upcoming party.

Super Bowl Hosting Tips:

-Think “green” and make it easy. Send out E Invites or call or Facebook your friends

-Set up as many televisions as possible if you’re having a large party

-Plan simple and easy food to put out and refill. Also, think about servings foods that are easy to pick up and eat in your lap.

-Have one room planned for television watchers and another for those who just want to talk (okay…some of us women)

-If you’re inviting guests with children, have video games, movies, coloring pages, crayons and puzzles to keep them busy

-Offer healthy foods: such as serve fresh fruit and vegetables with hummus

-Have plenty of beverages and a variety for everyone

-Ask guests to pitch in and bring food (give them a task)

-Have a “faux betting pool” set up and a few prizes for the winners

Easy Valentine’s Day Brownies

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays for cooking every year because I usually teach a Kid’s Valentine Cooking Class and share my recipes with children. This year I have a great class scheduled along with a few television appearances lined up in Birmingham and Nashville preparing Valentine treats. These Valentine Brownies are just one of the recipes I will be making for the kids as well as television. This easy brownie recipe was shared to me by the editors of the Tables of Content Book from the Junior League of Birmingham (one of my must-have cookbooks). These are so easy, and you make them all in one saucepan. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter and decorate with your favorite icing. They are almost too simple to be so divine.

Parsnip-Potato Chowder

It’s the perfect time of year for soups, and why not try something a little different such as this Parsnip-Potato Chowder? When I taught a cooking class recently, very few people in the class had ever cooked or tried parsnips.  Parsnips are root vegetables, and they are related to the carrot family. Parsnips resemble carrots but are paler in color and have a slightly sweeter taste. Parsnips provide an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid, B vitamins and fiber. Combine parsnips and potatoes with a touch of fresh dill, milk and vegetable broth to create a comforting and flavorful chowder. This soup tastes so rich without using any cream, and my kids even enjoyed it. For added flavor, sprinkle with crumbled bacon and fresh chopped dill.

Big Exciting News: My Upcoming Cookbook

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I have some big news. Very big news!!! For those of you who have not heard, I am working on a cookbook, and the manuscript is due September 15th. It is more work than I ever imagined, and I can’t thank my kids, family and friends enough for their understanding during this busy time.

It is a very “big” book. When I say “big”, I mean it. 400 recipes. The book will be out spring 2011.  It is a very exciting time, and I couldn’t have done any of this everyone’s awesome support. I cannot thank you enough.

I will blog more about it in the coming months.  Stay tuned . . .