Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sprouted Pasta Dish, 5 WW Points Plus, 310 Calories

Sprouted Whole Wheat Pasta Dish

So, I have been working on making healthy sauces lately. I have also been taking classes to get a degree in nutrition, hence the scarse posts!  So, back to the sauces.  I am sure that my ideas are not super original, but I am enjoying making them be a realistic part of my recipe collection.

So, here is the recipe for today's experiment:


1 serving of 100% Whole Grain Sprouted Flour pasta (57g uncooked)
1 Tbsp. Freshly Grated Parmesan
1/4 c. Skim Milk
1 c. Pureed Yellow Squash
1/2 Tbsp. Hemp Hearts
1 + Tbsp. Minced Fresh Tarragon
salt and white pepper to taste (easy on the salt b/c the parmesan is naturally salty)


Make the pasta as indicated (cooks very quickly)
Combine milk, half of the parmesan, half of the tarragon, and the squash in a pot 
to warm up and cook together
Add fresh pasta to warmed sauce
Put it on a plate and sprinkle with the rest of the tarragon, salt, pepper, and the rest of the parmesan


Ok, here are the nutritional facts about this dish. Click on graphic to enlarge.

I used this particular pasta, although I hear that Trader Joe's also makes a comparable pasta.

Here are the hemp hearts that I used:

Hemp hearts are a new addition to my pantry.  They are high in iron, and healthy fat and protein.  
If you want to check them out, go to this site:

The nutrient breakdown for 5 Tablespoons is this:

Calories: 340
Fat: 28 g
Saturated: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 0 g
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 1 g
Protein: 17 g
Calcium: 4% DRI
Iron: 60% DRI

There is a lot of information on this site, some of which I think sounds hokey, but I do like the nutritional qualities.

The pasta I used is supposedly digested in a manner similar to vegetables.  You can read more about that on this site:

Overall, I liked this pasta dish.  It wasn't amazingly filling.  If you want to make it more filling you could add more vegetables, or more hemp hearts at 2 pts. per tablespoon, about a 68 calorie increase from what I posted.  If I had some nice ripe tomatoes, I would have diced them and added them because they would have perfected this dish!!!

Yellow squash is wonderful.  It tastes incredible and has a great texture when pureed.  It is also one of the easier vegetables to cook and puree b/c you don't need to add water to puree it and you don't need to peal it.  
Just wash it, cut it up, boil it, let it cool, put it in the blender and blend.  You don't need a very high power blender to do this and this puree is amazingly versatile.  Yellow squash is not very expensive either, especially when it is in season.  You can puree it, freeze it in cubes and use it later, like I just did!

Notes on Tarragon:

Medicinal value of tarragon

Tarragon is mainly used to treat stomach disorders and also acts as a mild anaesthetic and sedative. Tarragon is also said to:
  • Stimulate the appetite and therefore can help treat eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
  • Numb aches and pains due to its anaesthetic properties.
  • Act as a mild sedative and sleep inducement.
  • Treat hyperactivity and promote calmness, especially when taken as a tea.
  • Aid digestion, particularly the break down of meat fats and proteins.
  • Release and flush out toxins from the body.
  • Relieve stomach cramps, indigestion, wind and colic in babies.
  • Ease menstrual pains.
  • Alleviate rheumatoid and arthritic pain.
  • Act as a laxative and relieve constipation.
  • Help depression if taken with fennel.
  • Help people with heart problems and obesity if taken as a substitute for salt.
According to:

Notes on Yellow squash (click on graphic to enlarge):

according to:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hydrating Smoothie

I was recently listening to a book on tape that talked about how your choice in food choices reflects your outlook on life.  It seems a little hokey, but I think there is some merit to the idea.  It made me think about my food and eating preferences.  The conclusion that I came up with is this: I must have a dissociative identity disorder when it comes to food!

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

One day I will think of the most healthy food that I can manage to make.  I'll make my own applesauce from apples I hand picked, and then dehydrate them to make fruit leather.  I'll create a smoothie that is so packed full of nutrients and flavor that it makes me beam with pride!

Then there are the other days where all I really want in this world is a perfectly created cupcake or a juicy cheesy burger topped with pickles and onions.

That being said, I think what it comes down to is this:  I do not focus on healthy food because I fear unhealthy foods.  I do it because I love them!  I have developed a taste for whole foods and I eat them for the same reason I eat the occasional donut.  They taste good!

A few people and I have had the "fast food" conversation. In no part of my mind do I recognize "fast food" as food.  I think of it more as "convenient, high calorie, high fat, emotion inducing grub".  When I was pregnant my brain craved fast food constantly.  Thankfully I didn't give in all the time, but the craving was there.  I liked the way that the food made me feel.

So my question here is:  Do you like food because of the way it tastes or because of how it makes you feel?

I am sure we all can agree that both reasons play a part in our daily food intake choices.

I recently went for a run that was strenuous for me.  It was further than I had run in a long time, and when I got back from it I was parched and sweaty.  My son's babysitter watched as I grabbed a few items and threw them into the blender.  Then she watched in horror/fascination when I actually drank the fluid I had concocted.  I asked her if she wanted to try the smoothie and, to my surprise, she said ok.

The main ingredient in the smoothie? Celery.

Here is why I choose to feature this vegetable in my smoothie:

Her reaction was interesting.  She said it was very "celery-y" and she didn't like it but it fascinated her.  I think that this experience was giving her an insight.  Sometimes we don't really taste a food until we really taste the food.  She kept drinking by the way.  She certainly looked confused by her desire to do so.

I created a smoothie this morning that I wanted to share with you.  It is not for the novice smoothie drinker, unless you want to amp up your tolerance and appreciation for the true taste of food that isn't altered by excessive fat, salt or sugar.

I like to drink this after a long run or when I wake up from a mid-day nap feeling groggy and blech.

Hydrating Smoothie

1 peeled cucumber
1/2 c. baby spinach leaves
1 large celery stalk
Fresh juice from 2 small limes or 1 big lime
2 tsp. of honey
2 cups of water
3 cups of ice
1/2 cup of natural applesauce (nice sweetener, huh?)


If you choose to make this smoothie, let me know what you think. I am on my second huge glass of it today.  It is amazingly refreshing!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Banana "Ice Cream" 1 WW Point


Every so often my son gets a hankering for ice cream.  But, being a health conscious person who is very aware of their own self control issues, I rarely  have any ice cream in the house.

Eat For Health: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2 book set)

That is where Dr. Joel Fuhrman and frozen bananas come in handy.  In his book "Eat For Health" Dr. Furhman gives a recipe for what he calls "Frozen Banana Fluff".  This dessert is a wonderful alternative to fatty, high-calorie ice cream.  Also this recipe grants you a great deal of versatility based on what you have in your fridge, freezer or pantry.

Here is what you need:

A strong food processor.  This is really important.  You don't want to make this in a lower powered food processor and kill it. I  have a friend who did that and she wasn't too happy.

I use this food processor by Cuisinart.  It is a lovely little machine that rarely lets me down.
Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB Prep 11 Plus 11-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless
Here are your ingredients:

1/4 Cup "milk" 
2 bananas that were ripe when frozen
A dash of vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed (optional)
Any other elements for flavor*


To make this as easy as possible on your food processor, put in your s blade and add the "milk".
Then add the frozen banana pieces one at a time.  Add the vanilla and mix until you have a nice creamy texture that looks like this.

Flax Seeds

You can add the ground flax seed as a topping to add even more nutrients if you wish.  If you have a nut allergy you may want to abstain from this.  Also, if you grind your own flax seed in a coffee or spice grinder, keep the meal in your fridge but for about two weeks.  Here is an awesome site full of wonderful information on flax seeds and their nutritional benefits:


*Let's get into the flavoring issue.  I like to add fresh strawberries, or frozen, depending on what is on hand.  You can also alternate what extracts you use.  Get creative.  Use raspberry or almond, or orange.  Or just add some blueberries or real raspberries.  Just note that if you add more solids you are going to have to compensate with more liquid.  That means more "milk" and that could mean more points or calories.  Just keep that in mind.  You could also replace some of the banana with another fruit.  But be aware that your creaminess is coming from the bananas.

If you don't mind adding some calories (and points), you can add some chocolate.  A low calorie option for adding chocolate is to take a zester/grater and zest some semi sweet baking chocolate into the banana mixture.


Now another note, this one is concerning "milk".  If you are vegan you can opt for soy or rice milk.  Trader Joe's makes an amazing Grain Milk made from millet, amaranth, brown rice and quinoa.  Talk about nutrients!!

I chose to use Trader Joe's rice drink, and fresh strawberries, to make the "ice cream" pictured above.  I used about 1/2 a cup to compensate for the added strawberries.

Not only does it already have a nice vanilla flavor incorporated, but it is also enriched.  Here are the facts on this beverage:


If you calculate the WW points on this beverage it is 3 points per cup.  The points in your dessert depends on how much of the liquid you use to make the ice cream (which depends on if you add more fruit than bananas).  Don't forget that with the new points plus Weightwatchers system all fruit is FREE!! So your only calories are going to come from your liquid in this recipe.  

If you aren't a vegan and you choose to use skim milk you'll find yourself with even less points because one cup of skim milk is only two points.

Freezing Bananas:

Now, some  advice on the bananas.  Grab some bananas that are already ripe, and therefore on sale, at the grocery store.  Take them home, slice them up and freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment, or a cooling rack.  You want to freeze them this way or you will end up a ball of frozen bananas that are hard to separate in your freezer.  Once they are frozen you can toss the into a nice thick reliable freezer bag for storing.

I reference this process on a more detailed level in this post:

My kid loves this stuff, as do I.  I have impressed quite a few visitors to my house with this recipe.  Just eat it right away b/c it doesn't keep that well.


So, get creative and enjoy some "ice cream" void of any and all guilt.  And check out the book it came from.  It is full of many other uber-healthy, tasty, creative recipes.s

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hiatus Cleansing Smoothie

Well, since the holidays are now over I am more free to do all the other fun extras that I enjoy, like food blogging!  How were your holidays?  Mine were rather nice.  They culminated in a week long trip to NYC filled with irresponsible and decadent eating!  The nice thing is that even though I took that week off of my WeightWatchers lifestyle, I only gained 2.5 lbs.  I have already lost .5 and am sure to loose the other two sooner than later.  I love this program.  To date I have lost a total of 26 pounds (and that includes adding two pounds for the week of debauchery and overeating, I think I had 8 cupcakes in two days. . . ).

So this morning I decided to get back into another good habit (other than doing WeightWatchers), and that is making a green smoothie each morning.  Not only will it help to make me feel more healthy mentally, but hopefully physically too.  I am fighting a gross cold today... ugh.

So, WeightWatchers changed up their system recently to be even more healthy, which I find beautiful and exhilarating.  A week and a half after they updated the program I was able to break through a plateau I had been on for weeks and drop an additional 4 lbs!

One of the new additional changes to their plan is that all fruit and most veggies (excluding those obvious starchy ones) are now zero points.  That means that my smoothies are now really low in points.

So today's smoothie is blueberry focused.  Like I have said before on this blog, blueberries are great b/c they are very healthy and hide the green element of green smoothies from those who are more aesthetically sensitive.

Blueberry Num Yum Smoothie

1/2 C. Trop50 Blueberry Pomegranate Juice (1 point)
1/2 C. Skim Milk (1 point)
1/2 C. Frozen Wild Blueberries (0 points)
1 Frozen Banana (0 points)
1/2 C. Frozen Strawberries (0 points)
1 Cube Frozen Pureed Spinach, better to use fresh if you have it (0 points)
1 C. Filtered Water
1 Packet of Truvia (0 points), or you can just use a Tbsp. of Agave Nectar for 2 points.

Total Yield: A little more than 3 cups at 1 pt. per 1 1/2 cup serving.

Now... let's talk nutrients.  I choose to use the Trop50 juice simply because I had it in the fridge.  I grabbed it to try out.  It is decent and does have less sugar and half the points of regular apple juice. I found this article online and found it interesting:

As for Truvia. Here is an interesting article analyzing it's safety and value as a "natural" calorie free sweetener.

I used it today simply b/c I somehow found some in my pantry... no clue how it got there.  Usually I use agave nectar, but I am all out and too sickly to make the trek through the snow to procure some more, so Truvia it is this morning.

If you added 1 Tbsp. of Agave (a much more natural sweetener) to this smoothie, each serving would be 2 pts.  I personally think it is worth the extra point to avoid suspect sweeteners.  Having said that, I am not sure how often I'll use the Truvia.

This is a pretty tasty smoothie and it feels really good to know how many nutrients I am getting just sitting here sipping my drink!  For my WeightWatchers friends you can click off three servings of fruit and veggies, one serving of low fat dairy, and one serving of water.  Not bad!

Hopefully I will get back into the swing of things and start posting again on here!  I know that I have a very healthy (low points) cherry cake waiting in the back of my mind for posting.  I think I will wait until I feel less crappy to type that one up.  I am more eloquent when I am not wiping my nose every few seconds. 

So, here is to a new year full of healthier choices and more fulfilling living!!!