Archive | March 2012

23.5 Hours- You DO have time

Today in class my professor shared this video with us and I really liked it and wanted to pass it along.  It’s also always nice to hear from a doctor that supports our profession.  I hope you watch it, and feel inspired!: 23 and 1/2 hours

Did you know it’s better to be fit and overweight then skinny and not fit?  Exercise is so beneficial to us, it’s really more like a natural medicine.  From personal experience, it improves my mood, releases worries and tension, and overall makes me happier.  Now that I’m into week 3 of training runs, I can’t explain it any other way then saying that my cardiovascular system just feels stronger.  I wake up energized, and have given up coffee completely!  For me running is my happy place, but like the video says, even if you are walking, it’s still helping.  Not to mention all the other choices you have like biking, swimming, dancing, sports with friends, etc.

One useful suggestion I have for you is to literally schedule it into your planner like it’s part of your job.  I will write “8 am- run ___ miles.”  I believe it really helps form the commitment, and also gives it the same importance as everything else in your crazy life.

If you need some inspiration, my 60-something year old professor (pushing 70) runs 6 miles every morning.  Not only did he raise his HDL’s (your “good” cholesterol) by almost 20 points, and got rid of his hypertension, but lets be honest, he kicks ass to be doing that at his age.  So get your tush off the couch and treat your body well! :)


Cauliflower & Chicken Sausage Casserole

This recipe is pretty easy, but it takes around an hour with the oven time so you may want to save it for a weekend.  As a reference for you, with chopping and distractions it took me about an hour and half from start to finish.  The flavor in this was so awesome, definitely a keeper!

I don’t typically eat sausage because it is high in fat, but since this recipe only needed half a pound of chicken sausage, I made an exception.  If you love sausage, a turkey or chicken sausage is a good alternative with 2g saturated fat per serving vs. 4g+ saturated fat per serving in regular sausage.

One of the modifications I made to this dish was to steam the cauliflower instead of boil it.  While boiling is also a healthy alternative, steaming is better.  As a rule of thumb, you want your veggies to have the least amount of contact with water because the nutrients leach out into the water.  This is because water soluble vitamins (The B-vitamins), as the name states, are water soluble, so they will gravitate to the cooking water and out of the vegetable.  If you don’t own a steamer, it looks like this…

All you have to do is pop it in a pot with about 2 inches of water boiling underneath it.  Again, try not to let the water make contact with the steamer (which holds the veggies).  If you do have to boil the veggies for whatever reason, try to use the cooking water at some point in the recipe so you don’t lose the nutrients :)

Cauliflower & Chicken Sausage Casserole– adapted from TheKitchn

Serves: 4-6

1 medium head cauliflower (I used a pretty large one)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound uncooked herbed chicken sausage, removed from casings
3/4 medium white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Few dashes dried thyme
One 28-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Slice away the leaves and stems from the cauliflower head.  Chop cauliflower roughly into bite-sized florets, each about 1-inch across.
  3. Boil 2 inches water in pot, add steamer with cauliflower and cook 3-5 minutes (note: it may take longer because of large amount of cauliflower). Return the cauliflower to the cooking pot and set aside.
  4. Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then, when the pan is hot, add the sausage (it should sizzle). Use a spoon to break up the meat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through and beginning to get crispy.
  5. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, and thyme to the pan with the sausage. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Scrape up any brown bits as you sauté. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer for about 7-8 more minutes. Turn off the heat and taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the cauliflower and mix. Spread the cauliflower and sausage mix in the prepared baking dish and distribute evenly. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle them evenly over the cauliflower. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  7. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until breadcrumbs have browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Happy Spring!  Although the weather seems to be back to its usual cold self here, I have a good recipe to warm you up.  The flavors in this were awesome, and don’t be deterred by the word “chowder”- this one only contains a mere 1/4 cup of cream.  What a great healthy alternative to a traditionally fatty dish (Dad- I think you will really like this one AND mom will approve).

I’m working on the appearance of my blog by taking better pictures, making the recipe format standardized, and starting to branch out and make some recipes of my own.  Slowly but surely, I’ll get there.  Also, at the  bottom of all posts there is a “print” button, so you can easily print the ones you like.

Look out for another recipe on Thursday, and with it I’ll be including some helpful nutrition tips to apply when cooking.  Have a great week!

Shrimp & Corn Chowder- slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: 3-4

1 bunch green onions (I used almost 2 because I love the flavor of green onions)

3 cups diced red potato

3 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth

1 (16 oz) package frozen corn, thawed

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Black Pepper (optional)


  1. Remove green tops from onions, chop and set aside.  Chop white portion of onions, set aside.
  2. Combine potato and chicken broth in a medium saucepan, bring mixture to a boil.  Cook 5 minutes, add corn and white portion of onions.  Reduce heat, simmer 8 minutes.
  3. Place 2 cups of the potato mixture in a blender (I used a food processor), process until smooth.  Return to pan, stir in shrimp (already diced).  Cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are pink.  Stir in onion tops, cream, and lemon juice.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls.  Sprinkle with pepper is desired.

TGI Friday’s Menu Tasting

Recently I had a fun opportunity to taste test some new items on the TGI Fridays menu.. for free!  Even though it was free, I will still be giving honest opinions.  Before I get into it, I just wanted to let everyone know about a few new things on my blog.  I have decided to post every Monday and Thursday, times may vary, and additional posts may be thrown in, but at least now you will know when to definitely check back.  In addition, I’ve added a “categories” tab to the right hand column of the homepage.  Here you will find my posts split into the given categories, which will hopefully make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for.  As always, any comments or suggestions regarding content are more then welcome.

Back to the food! A friend from school, Emily, got invited to this blog event at TGI Fridays and invited me to come along.  Yes, how nice of her!   You can read all about the new dishes, here, just look for the items labeled “new.”  It was really refreshing to see some of the food they’ve added to their menu.  As a side note, the manager believed that this menu was only currently available in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, but I’m sure it will be expanding.  Typically I find that chain restaurants like Fridays, while very tasty, are just loaded with fat and calories, most things are fried, and I never feel good after eating.  Not to mention, the portion sizes in restaurants in general get me pretty enraged… and we wonder why obesity is out of control?  Anyway,  It was interesting to speak with the manager about their new menu, and he told me that they are trying to give themselves a competitive advantage over other chains such as Applebee’s and Chili’s, by adding these fresh healthy items.  We are still waiting on the nutritional facts for these dishes, but you can tell from the ingredients that most will have a much better nutritional profile.  The event was so kind of Friday’s to do, so delicious, and I even got extras to take home!  Check them out (I will only comment on those that I tried)….

Ahi Tuna with Avocado Crisps

It was so crazy to see raw tuna as a Friday’s.. very unexpected!  Personally I don’t do raw fish, but I thoroughly enjoyed the avocado’s.

Grilled Vegetable Dagwood

AWESOME.  It was such a huge, plentiful veggie sandwich.   The hospitality/business side of my education started the wheels turning so I checked with the manager, and even though the fresh veggies cost more for them to get- the entree is still priced under $10.

Heavenly Hummus

I’m not going to lie, this I wanted to slip off the table and into my lap when no one was looking.  Such a great combination of flavors in the hummus, and something I will definitely order as a customer.

Peach Sweet Tea

Very refreshing and sweet, I imagine it will be a big hit in the summer time!

Turkey- Cranberry Reuben

It was a tie between this one and the Victory Pasta below for me as best dish.  This one definitely had cheese and I could tell the bread was fried in butter which may have compromised the nutritional content a bit, but it was SOOOO good.

Victory Garden Pasta

Like I said above, this one tied for first for me.  The veggies were so fresh tasting and not coated with some kind of fatty cream sauce.   It was also made with whole wheat pasta (fiber/vitamins/minerals!).  It was very refreshing, and I MAY have swiped the leftover from the table to bring home :)

Warm Pretzels with Beer Dipping Sauce

The food lover in me loved this one, the future nutritionist, skeptical.  I think this one may have been packing some fat, BUT still a great new appetizer that they are offering.

The following I did not taste personally (on account of the beginnings of a food coma) but they were a huge hit at my table:

Knife-and-Fork Chicken Cesar Salad

Spicy Beer Cheeseburger

Thai Steak Salad

Has anyone tried these yet and have additional feedback?

Ricotta-Spinach Pasta

Today is the kind of day that I literally was itching to go for two runs, it was so beautiful.  I love that I no longer live in an apartment complex and can see the streets filled with people walking their dogs when it’s nice.  Just love it!  This is only my second year in Buffalo, but from what I can understand they don’t ever see 75 degree days in March, let alone the ground (not covered with snow!).  The weather has been like this for a few days now, so this weekend I seized the opportunity and took Dan’s grandmas dog Sadie for a run.  I am not a dog owner, so in my head  I thought, “she’s a dog, they love to run, she can definitely handle 4 miles with me.”  Well at .75 miles Sadie parked it and looked at me with the expression of- “are you OUT of your mind, woman?” You can even see in the pic below how pissed she is at me.  So sadly, I took dragged her back home and finished the run alone.    She will be a great cool-down dog though, and I will need to make sure my puppy loves to run when I do purchase one of my own. :)

Tonight’s recipe is a Cooking Light recipe.  I got the magazine in the mail on Friday and was overjoyed to see it say “40 Fast and Easy Meals.”  With school, clinic, work, doing hw, and squeezing in exercise, it’s gotten too frustrating to approach the kitchen during the week with an hour long dinner prep ahead of me.  As much as I love cooking, I just can’t do it.  It’s so exciting to find a quick, easy and healthy meal.  This one serves 3-4 and I loved it.


9 oz fettuccine pasta (I couldn’t find a whole wheat version- but if you can, all the better)

2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (this was the only modification I made from the original, which called for whole-milk cheese)

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

3/4 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1.5 cups diced red bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 cups fresh baby spinach



  1. Cook pasta according to the package.  Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.
  2. Combine ricotta, lemon rind, 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper, saute 2 minutes.  Add walnuts, 1/2 tsp. salt and garlic, saute 2 more minutes.  Stir in 1 tbsp. oil and lemon juice.  Add pasta water, pasta, and spinach.  Cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts (took about 3 minutes for me).
  4. Top with ricotta mixture, blend in and remove from heat.


Tortellini Soup

This is a great one because while the steps add up to about a half hours worth of time, there’s only about 5 minutes of active cooking, so you can get other things done while you wait.  This recipe is from my mom, with a few modifications.  I’ ve also realized I haven’t been writing how many servings the recipes make, so I will be starting that now.  This one serves 3-4.  I hope you like it!


  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced mushrooms (my mom uses 1 oz pancetta instead- it’s whatever flavor you’d prefer!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 4.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 14 oz can low sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 10 oz tortellini (cheese or spinach filled)
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • Salt, pepper, and parmesean cheese to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Once hot, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms (or pancetta) a few minutes until onions are transparent
  2. Add chicken broth and Italian seasoning and bring to a boil
  3. Add tortellini and cook 10 minutes
  4. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes
  5. Add spinach and cook 3 minutes
  6. Add salt and pepper as desired

* I will note that a male may need some extra bread with this one to fill up.  I caught Dan with his second ice cream pop after this meal claiming the pop “fell out of the freezer and looked like he needed a good home.”

EASY Stovetop Lasagna

This recipe was such a gift after a LONG day at clinic, school, mock interview, and first day of half marathon training.  I couldn’t have been more excited that not only did it take 15 minutes tops, but it tasted great too.  Yes this recipe does have quite a bit of cheese, but still less then a traditional lasagna, and incorporates mushrooms which is a great addition of flavor and nutrients.  Because of the size of the lasagna noodles, I also got to test out my brand new stainless steel pot courtesy of my grandpa unloading some kitchen supplies on me- thanks papa!


  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato basil sauce (I used jarred sauce from Wegmans)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 3/4 cup skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 6 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into thirds & fully cooked
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (dried or fresh)


  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, salt and pepper. Cook mixture until it thickens up a bit, around 5 minutes.
  2. Add noodles to skillet and stir into the mixture well. Add scoops of ricotta cheese over the noodles; add in mozzarella and Parmesan. Stir in parsley.  Cook about 2 more minutes, or until mixture is thick.
  3. Serve immediately with additional basil or parsley.