Sunday, January 30, 2011


After a long, cold, and likely snowy commute home, all I want is a warm and comforting meal. The solution is simple: fight the chilly with some chili!

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

Chili is the perfect winter dinner for so many reasons…

  1. It’s hot- perfect to sooth your soul and keep you warm
  2. It’s healthy- a plethora of vegetables and lean proteins, plus some heart-healthy EVOO, vitamins/minerals, and plenty of fiber
  3. It’s quick & easy- just chop, and put in the pot
  4. It’s cooking in bulk- 1 pot will last you for a while! Just put in individually wrapped zip-top containers and store in the freezer up to 3 months.

What can you put in chili?

Anything but the kitchen sink! This is the perfect opportunity to clean out your fridge: put all stray vegetables, beans, and ground meat in a pot and, woo-lah: you’ve made chili

I like to make turkey-bean-corn chili…check it out!

-1 lb Ground turkey meat (at least 94% lean)
-1 yellow onion
-2 peppers (any colors)
-1 Jalapeno pepper (be as daring with the seeds as you like!)
-A few celery stalks
-1 can of beans (black or kidney, rinsed)
-1 cup of corn (if using can- rinse, or frozen)
-1 large can crushed tomatoes- *I like San Marzano
-1 Bay leaf
-1-1.5 T chili powder
-1-1.5 T cumin
-Low sodium chicken stock, 1.5-2 cups

Ok, so I know this looks like a lot, but don’t fret- it’s SO simple, I promise.

1. Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium-high

2. Chop all the fresh veggies and add them to the pot, put in bay leaf and salt.

3. Add turkey meat and cook for a few minutes

4. Add spices, then tomatoes, then beans, corn, and chicken stock; stir.

5. Put lid on and simmer on low for at least 30 min up to 2 hours.

*Remove bay leaf before serving and add hot sauce as desired

Stay WARM while enjoying the CHILI!!!

--Samantha Jacobs, RD

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Time for a Round Up: GO FISH!

So I’m sure you have heard at one point or another that fish is good for you, but why? Does it have less fat? Does it have no calories? Does it have beneficial nutrients for weight loss? Are all fish the same? And what about mercury, could fish be bad? No, no, fish is great…read on.

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

  • Compared to other animal proteins, fish has fewer calories, less fat, and the kicker- a better type of fat! Little fishies are packed full of the “good” fat, unsaturated fats called omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s help lower your bad cholesterol, improve your heart health, and support healthy hair, skin, and nails!
  • As for weight loss, substituting practically any fish for other animal protein at meals can help you shed those winter pounds, and that’s why I say, Go Fish!
  • As for the mercury thing, women who might become pregnant, pregnant or nursing women, and young children are urged by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to avoid extremely high mercury fishes (Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish), eat low mercury fishes up to 2x per week, and check local advisories for locally caught fish. For everyone else, aim to have fish 2x per week, choosing low mercury fish more often and high mercury fish less frequently.
  • Serving of fish= 4-6 oz

Below is a chart comparing many types of fish, so that you can make the best choice for you and your family!

Breaking Down The Sea...

Type of Fish

Calories (g per ~3 oz serving)

Fat (g per ~3 oz serving)

Omega-3 (g per ~3 oz serving)












Tuna (fresh)





Sea Bass


















































Compare Fish to:

Beef: up to 230 calories, 15.1 g fat (5.8 g saturated)

Chicken: up to 178 calories, 9.3 g fat (2.6 g saturated)

**Catch This Fish Sum-up:

-Lowest Calorie: shrimp, cod, catfish

-Lowest fat: shrimp, cod

-Best sources of Omega 3’s: salmon, mackerel, tuna

-Highest mercury: swordfish

Here is a very easy recipe that I like to make when I am strapped for time (and eating solo):

1 fillet of white fish (can use any kind like tilapia, cod, sole)

1 T chopped onion

1 clove chopped garlic

2 T chopped herbs (I like to use cilantro)


Salt and pepper

Heat 1 T oil in a pan.

While heating, salt and pepper one side of the fish, rub on onion, garlic, and herbs. Place that side down in pan and salt and pepper other side. Cook for a few minutes on each side. That’s it.

Need an omega 3 fix?

Rub a raw salmon filet with a mixture of whole grain mustard and honey mustard, and bake it in the oven on 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes depending on how cooked you like it.

  • Whole Foods and other specialty markets have a great selection of fresh fish, or...
  • Check out Trader Joe’s Assorted Frozen fish fillets for affordable and convenient fish meals!!

--Samantha Jacobs, RD

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh My Darling, Clementine

As the holiday season comes to an end, most people get back into their old routines, and seek comfort from the cold in their apartments. For me, this often means less time at the Farmer’s Market and ultimately, less fruits and veggies- oh no!

However brutal, the cold weather does signal the season for one of my favorite little fruits: the clementine. Packed in a wooden box, clementines (the smallest of the mandarin orange family) are the perfect winter fruit.

Why have You Done a Good Thing?

Clementines last for a while and do not need to be refrigerated, so you can have fresh fruit in the house without braving the cold. They are packed with vitamin C, the powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the winter sniffles. They also contain some potassium, which keeps your electrolytes in check and plays a big role in muscle contraction. The orange color of this fruit gives away its beta-carotene content, which helps our vision, especially as we age.

They are a great low-calorie snack (at only 35 calories for a little one!) that is easy to throw into a bag, lunch box, or briefcase- plus they are super easy to peel (great for kids!). And don’t worry, they should have no seeds (unless naughty bees have cross-pollinated the tree). Looking for something sweet after a savory meal? They are the perfect dessert sans calories plus vitamins and minerals.

Buy them when they are:

-Shiny and bright orange

-Firm with a slight give to the push

Besides eating clementines plain, you can

-Put them in a salad

-Squeeze out the juice and add olive oil, salt and pepper, for a dressing

-Eat them in oatmeal

-Chop them up into Greek yogurt

-Add them into a couscous or grain salad

-Celebrate Meatless Monday? Mix them with black beans and sautéed onions & pepper for a fiber-filled vegetarian meal.

Buy a box today and enjoy them while staying warm!

--Samantha Jacobs, RD

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Get your game on...

Over the past few years, under the influence of my boyfriend and his family, I have become a Jets fan. With each game, I’ve grown to appreciate the screaming passion, nail-biting suspense, and never-waning loyalty to your team. But it’s definitely not easy being green. At last week’s game, we nervously, but mindlessly, ate to calm our nerves. Luckily, we were prepared with fresh vegetables and low-fat snacks to munch on. As watching football usually comes with endless eating, be prepared with healthier choices for your parties.

Why have you done a good thing?

Watching television, especially for long hours during a sports game, tends to be coupled with overeating on cheese laden, deep-fried foods. This can add up to thousands of calories, without even realizing it! Research by one of Your Secret Ingredient favorites, Brian Wansink, PhD, showed that people who watched TV for 60 minutes ate 28% more than those watching for 30 minutes, but reported eating about the same amount as the 30-minute watchers.

Basically, the longer we sit in front of the TV, the more we mindlessly eat. In general, the simple solution is to eat meals ate a table with other people (sans TVs, video games, blackberries, iphones, computers, ipads, etc) to keep the distractions away and prevent mindless eating. But with TV based parties, like the superbowl, we are in real trouble, especially when stress is running high!

Here are more tips to prevent mindless eating:

· Eat from a salad plate - Switching to a 10" salad plate results in 22% fewer calories consumed per meal, which leads to a weight loss of around 18 pounds per year for an average size adult.

· Use a smaller serving spoon - You can eat 30% less by switching to a smaller serving spoon.

· Drink from a tall skinny glassPeople tend to pour 30% more into a wide glass than into a slender one

· Leave serving dishes in the kitchen - Place your serving dishes six feet away to give yourself a chance to ask if you’re really hungry before we grabbing for seconds.

For more mindless eating prevention tips, check more of Wansink’s research or pick up his book Mindless Eating

We can also make comfort food fake-outs that still taste like our classic football foods. Try these healthy spins on football favorites this Sunday and at your Superbowl parties!!

Spicy Hot Wings with “Blue Cheese” Dipping Sauce (4 servings)


1 ¼ chicken wings

Non-stick spray, for grilling

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground pepper

Hot Sauce:

½ cup low sodium chicken stock

2 tbsp Cholula hot sauce or more to taste

1 clove of garlic, minced

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp cornstarch

“Blue Cheese” Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk

1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

2 tsp lemon juice

Pinch salt and pepper

Start by preparing the Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Heat a grill pan to high. Toss wings in salt and pepper. Spray grill with non-stick spray and place wings on the grill in single layers. Grill until golden brown on both sides and the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. **Note: if you don’t have a grill pan, you can still make this recipe by baking wings in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

For the hot sauce, combine the stock, hot sauce, garlic, salt in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch with 1 tbsp of water. Bring hot sauce mixture to a simmer, and stir in enough of cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce to consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat. Taste and add more hot sauce if you want. Add the wings and coat completely with sauce.

Baked Mozzarella Bites (8 servings)

Mozzarella Bites:

2 packets low-fat mozzarella string cheese (about 16 mozzarella sticks in total)

½ cup whole wheat plain bread crumbs (recommend Whole Foods 365 brand)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

½ pepper

2 eggs

Marinara Sauce:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 carrots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

½ tsp of salt

¼ tsp pepper

1, 32 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 dried bay leaf

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start by making marinara sauce. In a large pot, heat oil of medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add carrots and celery, salt, pepper. Saute until all vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leave and simmer for 1 hour. Remove bay leaf when done cooking. This sauce can be made a day ahead of time. Rewarm before using.

For mozzarella sticks, chop mozzarella sticks in half. Prepare batter stations. Crack eggs into one bowl. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs, flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip each cheese stick first in egg mixture, then dry ingredients. Complete this process until all are coated, placing mozzarella sticks on baking sheet as you go. Bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.

A Slimmer Warm Spinach Dip (12 servings)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 (9-ounce) package artichoke hearts, defrosted, rinsed and dried

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out.

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Pita wedges or crudites, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are light golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.

In a food processor combine artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, mozzarella and salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Add cooled onion-garlic mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

Spray an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray and add mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or crudites.

Turkey Chili (Serves 5, 1 cup servings)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

5 garlic cloves, diced

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp oregano

2 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 chipotle chile, seeded and diced

1 lb 99% lean ground turkey

1 (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed

Tortilla chips, carrot and celery sticks

Heat olive oil and add onion, garlic, peppers, chili powder, oregano, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and let reduce by half. Add tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, carrot and celery sticks.

J…E…T…S Let’s go Jets!!!

--Amy Santo, MS. RD

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I’m a pro, probiotics that is…

My grandfather used to drink a full glass of low fat buttermilk, straight up. Sounds gross but maybe he had the right idea…buttermilk is a great source of probiotics.

Why have you done a good thing?

Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and yeasts, that have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being. Although current research is inconclusive, probiotics have been shown to be helpful in prevention of vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and diarrhea after treatment with antibiotics, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, reduce bladder cancer recurrence, treat eczema in children, and prevention of colds and flues.

What are food sources of probiotics?

With all the hype surrounding probiotics, they are now found in everything from milk to infant formula. You do not have to purchase expensive enriched products or supplements to get probiotics. Natural food sources of probiotics include:

YogurtWhether advertised as having probiotics or not, all yogurts contain live culture bacteria or probiotics. You don’t have to spend more to buy a yogurt that’s marketed as such. Try having a yogurt a day for breakfast or a snack.

Buttermilk and Kefir These cultured milk products are rich in enzymes and probiotics. Low fat versions are perfect to cook with; use in baking recipes or try making homemade baked chicken fingers and use buttermilk instead of egg.

Fermented vegetablesTraditional fermented vegetable sources include cabbage, cucumber, Chinese turnip, beets, onions, and garlic. Favorite products include sauerkraut, kimchi from Korea, and cortido from Latin America.

Fermented soy products – Better known sources include miso, tofu, and tempeh. Less known sources include shoyu, tamari, and natto. Instead of take-out, try making your own miso soup:

Heart Shitake Mushroom and Miso Soup (Inspired by Chef Tyler Florence)

Serves 6-8

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

2 tbsp sesame oil

8 cups water

3 (6 inch) pieces of dried kelp (kombu)

¼ cup bonito flakes

3 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms

½ cup light miso

1 lb baby bok choy, cut into quarters

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes

In a large soup pot over medium heat sesame oil and add the scallion, ginger, garlic. Cook for 1 minute then add 8 cups of water. Add the kombu and bonito flakes. Bring up up to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes – do not let it boil. Remove the kombu and set it aside. Add the dried mushrooms and miso and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until mushrooms are hydrated and tender. Add the bok choy and tofu and cook for 10-15 more minutes.

Stay healthy everyone!! And remember if you are taking antibiotics (poor you…) make sure you are getting daily food sources of probiotics to restore your healthy microorganisms.

--Amy Santo, MS RD

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I guess I should have FIGured...

I remember my first encounter with figs was in Hebrew school, where we were given Fig Newtons as a snack before class. I always loved the chewy consistency, sweet flavor, and crunchy seeds. Little did I know then that I could eat figs sans cookie covering…Now figs are my favorite dried fruit!

Why have you done a good thing?

Since many people do not eat enough fruits and veggies, but eat excessive amounts of salt or sodium, many people are deficient in potassium. Dried and fresh figs alike, not only are deliciously sweet, but are a great source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Figs are also a great source of dietary fiber, which as we have said before is essential to weight management, regularity, blood sugar control, and prevention of many cancers. Figs are a great fruit source of dietary calcium, which is important for healthy bone density. For a high dose of antioxidants, eat figs in their fresh fruit form. Figs are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and macular degeneration. Figs are believed to be associated with enhanced fertility.

Fig Recipe Ideas:

Try both Black Mission and Turkish fig varieties, although I personally prefer Black Mission.

Stuff fresh figs with goat cheese and almonds and serve an as appetizer.

Chop dried figs for salads, trail mixes, couscous, or oatmeal in the morning.

Bake with dried figs in your next cookie or muffin recipe, instead of raisins.

Try making a fig glaze:

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup water

Optional: 1 cup strong, dark roast coffee

10 dried figs, chopped

In a small pot, heat vinegar, water, and coffee if using, and bring to a boil. Add figs and reduce heat to simmer. Continue heating until sauce has thickened to syrup consistency.

Use this glaze for fish, lean meats, or chicken dishes. Try topping with chopped pistachios.

Eating out? Check out Fig and Olive, one of my favs: a delicious restaurant that uniquely incorporates figs into their menu. They have both NYC and Westchester locations

Having a cocktail party? Buy Dalmatia Fig Spread at Murray’s Cheese Shop and make crostini with fig spread and ricotta cheese!

--Amy Santo, MS RD