Archive for December, 2008

Soft PretzelsWhen you think of whole grains do you only think of brown bread? Well, while some, but not all brown bread is made from a whole grain, that is not all the whole grains that you can choose to eat from this high energy food group.  We should be eating whole grains as the main fuel our bodies need to run on all day. Whole grains give us fiber, B and E vitamins, and important minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and folic acid. Eating high fiber foods can help you maintain or even loose weight because they help you feel full.


Beyond brown bread…stock up on these whole grains:

Whole wheat pasta, crackers and tortillas.


Brown rice or wild rice

Popcorn and whole cornmeal

Bulgur, barley, quinoa, millet, polenta, and amaranth


Most foods in this group are now offered in a whole grain or whole wheat version. Read the label! Some brown breads are only brown because of added caramel coloring. Look for “whole grain” or “whole wheat” as the first ingredient on the label. 


In a recipe, you can often substitute whole wheat flour for part of the recipe’s all purpose flour without changing the final product.  The ratio for making this substitution is 1:4.  In other words, if the recipe calls for 1 cup flour you can substitute ¼ cup whole wheat flour and ¾ cup all purpose flour.  Here is recipe for soft pretzels where I have substituted whole wheat for part of the flour.  This recipe is a great snack food and is fat-free!  Also a good recipe to make with kids.  They will love to roll out the dough!


Soft Pretzels


1 packet dry yeast

1 ½ cups warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

3 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

cooking spray

1 egg, beaten

coarse or kosher salt


Pretzel DoughPreheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large metal bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add salt and sugar.  Add flour and knead until smooth.  Break dough into small pieces.  Roll each piece into thin ropes about 6 inches long.  Twist into pretzel shapes or shapes of your own.  Spray cookie sheet with cooking sprat.  Place pretzels onto cookie sheet.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with coarse or kosher salt.  Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown on top.


Makes 24 pretzels


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We are all born with one.  Is yours still working?  Do you know when you are full or do you always overeat.  A satiety cue is a signal in your body that tells your brain when you are full.  It is our own internal weight maintenance mechanism.   Mine always malfunctions during the holidays. 


Many of us have lost our satiety cue and regularly eat more than what we need, hence the extra pounds on our waistline. We are all born with a satiety cue.  Newborns give us signals that tell us when they are done drinking from the breast or from a bottle.  As for infants and small children, awareness of their satiety cue is developing as they learn about family meal time and snack time. 


Unfortunately, if our parents required us to “clean our plates” or enforced other food related requirements on us, our satiety cue was taught to be ignored.  The satiety cue is a valuable cue for us to recognize and as with all good health habits, it is important to respect and nurture it starting at a young age. 

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italian-soup1Italian Wedding Soup


An Italian soup that is so simple and delicious.  The name, Italian Wedding Soup, apparently is a bad translation of “Minestra Maritata”, or literally, married soup, and refers to the marriage of flavors between the greens and the meats. 


Make it a meal.  The soup itself contains almost all food groups – meat, vegetable, and pasta.  Make it a complete lunch meal with a slice of bread, a piece of cheese, and an apple.  Make it a dinner with a salad, bread and a side of peaches.  Make the soup on a Saturday or Sunday, and freeze in single serving microwaveable containers.  During the week, just pull out a container; put it in your lunch, and go.


Italian Wedding Soup – serving size 1 cup


2 cartons chicken broth

1 pound ground round or ground sirloin

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

6 eggs

1 head of Endive (a curly edged leafy green) or 1 package spinach

¼ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese

¼ cup orzo pasta or acino di repe pasta

Parsley flakes

Salt and pepper


Pour broth into a large saucepan or Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.


In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion, 2 eggs, parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Roll into small meatballs and drop into simmering broth.  Also add the carrots.  Cook for 1 hour.


Break apart and rinse the endive or spinach.  In another large saucepan, add leaves and enough water to fill the bottom of the pan (about ½ inch of water).  Cover the pan and cook on medium high heat until wilted.  Drain, and finely chop.  Add to soup.


Add pasta to soup.  Continue to simmer.


Whisk together 4 eggs and ¼ cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese.  Drizzle slowly by the spoonful into soup. Simmer for 10 minutes more. 


Cool slightly before ladling into individual serving containers.  Cool for 10 to 15 minutes longer before freezing.


Makes around 15 servings.

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