Monthly Archives: March 2012

Clean Eating Bison Stroganoff and Fish Fritters

Clean Eating Magazine is a great source of inspiration for healthy versions of recipes, however I wish they had more of their recipes and reviews online.

Cooking Light, another food magazine, has all of their recipes listed on their website in an easy to use recipe finder. Their readers are very active in reviewing those recipes, making it a great source for finding opinions and suggestions.

If you visit the Clean Eating recipe finder, you’ll notice that they only have select recipes available, and their readers are not as active in reviewing. I’m not sure if CE worries that if they post all their recipes people won’t buy their magazine? I do not find that to be true! I read the magazines, but also like to be able to look up recipes online. For example, if I am leaving work I might want to do a quick search for a recipe for dinner so that I can stop at the market on the way home. More often than not, I cannot find the recipes I am looking for and end up frustrated.

I think that CE can learn a lot from CL in the way they share their entire database of recipes, and the way they display the reviews right on the page (not behind a tab). I also dislike how CE lets you rate a recipe but not review it. I firmly believe in constructive criticism, and when I just see a rating of 1 star (or 4 stars), I want to know WHY someone rated it as such. With no written reviews, it is hard to know what went wrong, or what was great about it.

I hope that CE focuses more on enhancing their online recipe database and presentation. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to review any Clean Eating recipes that I make, right here on my blog. Hopefully this will help a few people out there who are curious about a recipe and like do read reviews as much as I do.

Let’s get started with a few recent meals.

Bison (Beef) Stroganoff  – Clean Eating October 2011

Clean Eating Bison Stroganoff

I made the bison stroganoff recipe using beef tenderloin instead. This was delicious! With beef, baby portobello mushrooms, red onion, garlic and fresh baby spinach – this was a nutritious spin on a classic comfort food. The cream sauce was made from 3 simple ingredients: nonfat plain Greek yogurt, evaporated milk and dijon mustard. Mr. Nine made a side of cottage cheese protein mashed potatoes to go along with it and to soak up any extra sauce.

One thing that surprised me, and I should have known since this was a “stroganoff” dish, was that the picture in the magazine does not look like the real thing!

CE Bison Stroganoff Magazine Photo

In the photo you can see all the pretty colors of the ingredients, and the food stylist “hid” the cream sauce in little dollops along the edge of the plate. In the recipe instructions you add the cream sauce to the entire skillet of ingredients, mix it all together and heat 2 minutes so it is all incorporated like a traditional stroganoff.

They did this so that the recipe photo would look more colorful, and look healthier (covering something in cream, even if it IS greek yogurt) tends to scare most healthy eaters away. Regardless, I wish that their photography was more honest.

While this recipe was delicious, despite the photograph issue, I am not sure if this would reheat well for leftovers. It has greek yogurt in it, and the recipe warns not to overheat or it will curdle. I heated the sauce very gently and had no problems with curdling, but I am imaging that if you reheated it in the microwave the next day, it may cause some sauce separation issues. Has anyone made this? Did you try heating it up the next day? How was it?

Unfortunately this recipe is not published online in their recipe finder. Bison Stroganoff can be found in the October 2011 issue. This is not to be confused with the Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff, which is an entirely different recipe.

Onto the next recipe…

Fish Fritters with Red Pepper & Malt Vinegar Dipping Sauce – November/December 2010

CE Fish Fritters

Next up was the Fish Fritters which are basically tilapia and broccoli fish cakes. Unlike the stroganoff, I thought that the real fish fritters looked better than the magazine photo! Look at all that green!

While not difficult to make, I found that this recipe created a lot of dirty dishes and a mess of the kitchen. My food processor is small, so I had to chop the broccoli, jalapeno and fish in 3 batches. I ended up with little bits of broccoli everywhere. I also used my Kitchen-Aid standmixer to beat the egg whites (they need to triple in volume). And then I used my Vitamix for the sauce, so I ended up with lots of dishes to wash. I was surprised at what a HUGE batch this made! In fact, after making a dozen fritters (the recipe says it yields 12, 4 to a serving) I still had a lot of mixture leftover and I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to make perfectly portioned fritters.

I thought that these were good, but not great. I liked them enough to eat them, but not enough to make them again. Don’t leave off the sauce, it MAKES this dish. Without the sauce I am not sure I would have enjoyed them at all. The sauce is pretty neat, just throw roasted red peppers from a jar, malt vinegar and greek yogurt into a blender for a few seconds. The flavor tasted very much like buffalo sauce! I would definitely make the sauce again, just to use on a topping for something else.

Here are the fish cakes with the sauce.

CE Fish Fritters with Sauce

Since my kitchen was a mess, and it took awhile to fry these fritters up in multiple batches, I kept the side dish easy and just heated up some frozen whole wheat pierogis. Not the side I wanted to pair with this dish, but it did the job.

Now check out CE’s official photo for this recipe.

CE Red Pepper and Malt Vinegar Dipping Sauce

Mine were so much more green! These look a little blah, not as vivid as real life. However, the magazine photo shows the sauce as being MUCH lighter in color and much creamier looking which does not seem achievable with the recipe measurements. The recipe for the sauce is as follows:

  • 1/2 cup jarred sliced roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon nonfat Greek-style yogurt

You do the math, 1 measly tablespoon of yogurt is not enough in proportion to make the sauce look creamy or to lighten it to the degree that their photo shows. I wonder if this is a recipe error? I thought the sauce tasted good as written, but it was definitely on the watery side and had a STRONG tang like buffalo sauce. I almost wonder if they flip-flopped the measurements on the vinegar and yogurt…

Unfortunately this recipe is not published online in their recipe finder. Fish Fritters can be found in the November/December 2010 issue.

And while not a CE recipe (although it does follow that criteria!), I wanted to share this one by new fitness guru Natalie Hodson. 🙂

Blueberry Protein Pancakes – Natalie Hodson December 2011

Natalie Hodson Blueberry Protein Pancakes

If you are not familiar with protein pancakes, they are simply a way to prepare egg whites in a way that is sweet not savory. There are lots of recipes for these floating around out there, but most include egg whites, oats, cinnamon, almond milk and fruit.

Natalie is a girl who did the Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer and saw AWESOME results and was featured on the website. She has started a Facebook page where she shares recipes and tips on food and lifting.

Here is the recipe for her Blueberry Protein Pancakes that are shown in the photo above.

Natalie says she uses a blender to mix these, but that you can also use a bowl. My Vitamix was dirty so I just used a bowl and the mixture was VERY watery (and I only used 1/4 of the milk). I knew that the batter wouldn’t stay together in the pan so I just used a large skillet and dumped the whole mixture right in. The egg white & oat mixture filled the bottom of the pan and I let it set up 75% before I used the spatula to cut this into 4 easy-to-flip segments. So while my pancakes were not round and pretty, they ended up just fine. They are topped with unsweetened natural applesauce, cinnamon and more fresh blueberries.

Now the word “pancake” can be misleading to someone who has never made this sort of thing. These do not taste like traditional pancakes, they are very eggy and healthy tasting. I personally like that, but Mr. Nine is not a fan and would prefer regular pancakes so I only make these pancakes for myself. This particular recipe is also not very sweet. If you like sweet things, you may want to add another packet of Truvia. Also very important, DO NOT LEAVE THE BLUEBERRIES OUT! They make this particular recipe. The few bites I had without any berry were downright blah. The berries add sweetness and flavor and are necessary in my opinion.

Next time I think I’ll use the Vitamix to break down the oats to thicken the batter, and I’d also add some banana.

Have you ever made protein pancakes? What are your thoughts on them? If a cooking magazine published all of their recipes online, would you still subscribe to it (paper or digital)?

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A Formal Night Out

I love Saturday mornings when we have nothing planned.

Ezekiel Toast with Strawberries and Grapes

After rolling out of bed, I made an easy breakfast for us. Toasted Ezekiel bread, one slice made into a jam sandwich, the other slice had almond butter on one half and Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) on the other. Fresh strawberries and red grapes sprinkled with a little Truvia. Along with coffee and a tall glass of water, it was a great way to start the day.

We went to the gym for about an hour workout session. I was suppose to start the LiveFit Trainer Week 10 (Phase 2 / Week 2), but I decided to start last week all over again. Although I did most of the workouts (I did have to skip a workout and a half), I also subbed some exercises, forgot my cheat sheet at home more than once and as a result did the wrong reps, and just didn’t feel like I gave it my all. The only person I’d be cheating would be myself and I wanted to do it right, so I am starting back at the first week of phase 2. Since I was well rested and the gym was not too busy, I had a great workout for my back and abs. Did 20 minutes on the stepmill for my cardio, that always works up a sweat! Technically I was suppose to do 30 minutes of cardio, but I planned on going for a half hour walk later anyway.

After we got home from the gym, I couldn’t wait to have one of my favorite post-workout snacks.

Chobani Cinnamon Apple Greek Yogurt

Chobani Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt! This is my new favorite yogurt, it tastes like dessert! Seriously, this is like apple pie filling, only it is creamy and cold. It reminds me a lot of the Carb Boom! Apple Cinnamon gels that I’d take on my long runs. Now that I am not running, long or short, I have no reason to take these fuel gels and I’ve been missing them.

Chobani and Luna Bar Comparison

I decided to compare the ingredients in the Chobani Apple Cinnamon yogurt with a Luna Protein Bar that I had sitting around. The yogurt has MORE protein! That’s right, 14g vs. 12g. It also has no fat, lower calories, sodium and cholesterol. Sure the bar has a bit more fiber and vitamins and minerals, but I get enough of that from other sources. Sure it has some sugar (they both do) but it is a pretty decent protein-rich post-workout snack in my book. And the fact that it tastes like dessert? That is just a bonus. 🙂 And there you have it, my review of Chobani’s Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt. Yum.

With splendid, unseasonably warm weather, we took a walk around town.

Crocus Flowers

It was so nice to see the crocus (crocuses? croci?) emerging from the ground. Spring is right around the corner!

For lunch I wanted to try an intriguing recipe that I found in Clean Eating Magazine last fall – Spaghetti with Kale and Poached Egg.

Cooking Kale

Here is the kale, cooking in a bit pot of water.

I cooked the spaghetti (Dreamfields low carb pasta) in the same water that the kale was cooked in.

Here is the finished dish!

Kale and Poached Egg Spaghetti

The flavors worked great together! The recipe called for regular feta cheese, but I used a lemon and oregano feta that added a strong (but good) citrus flavor to the dish. The creamy yolk of the egg, mixing in with the spicy red pepper flakes, bitter kale stems and salty cheese just worked.

After all the food, fresh air and exercise I took a much needed nap! I am not a napper, but today it just felt right.

We were invited to a formal fundraiser dinner for a local health foundation, but dinner was not until 7:00pm. Since we usually eat dinner like senior citizens at 4:00pm, I had a snack of hummus and pita chips to tide me over.

Hummus and Pita Snack

And I was still noshy so I had a small bowl of granola, and half a slice of leftover french bread pizza (Mr. Nine wanted to split it with me).

I also tried a new (to me) drink called KeVita.


Wasn’t a huge fan of this. It tasted like a watered down version of Kombucha Synergy. Wouldn’t buy this again, but glad I tried it. At least I got some healthy bacteria for the day!

The afternoon flew by and it was time for our fundraiser dinner.

Formal Affair

Dinner was fancy and fabulous. Appetizers were mushroom purses, tempura shrimp, cheese, grapes, carrots, celery and sliced cucumbers topped with goat cheese and an unidentifiable red ingredient.


Pardon the horrible photographs, my camera does horrible in low light and I was trying to be quick about taking pictures so I wouldn’t draw attention to myself in the classy crowd of black-tie professionals, so I didn’t hold the camera steady as long as I normally would for slow exposures. Or maybe it was because I had too much wine. At any rate, here is the salad.


Which was followed by the main course of mashed potatoes, vegetables and two bacon-wrapped filet medallions. One beef, one turkey.

Main Course

Dessert was a mango layer cake.

Mango Cake

Add in some bread and coffee (and more wine) and that was the night! We danced which was not a pretty sight. I also did a little too much chair dancing, and apologize to my friends who had to witness that. 🙂

Formal Affair

It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and spend the evening with friends. We are so honored that they invited us to join them, and grateful to have such fantastic people in our lives.

I only wish we would have gotten a photo with the 8 of us, in front of the candlelit fireplace. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to do this again!

Categories: Fitness, Food | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love Your Heart

February was American Heart Month, and although we are now into the first few days of March, we should still strive to make healthy choices everyday for the love of our hearts, our bodies and our lives.

Oatmeal is considered a heart healthy food, and is such a simple yet versatile meal! Right now I am loving oatmeal mixed with a spoonful of fruit preserves and Not Nuts! Seed & Fruit Mix.

Oatmeal Mixed With Preserves and Seeds

Today’s preserves were Rhubarb-Strawberry Preserves from Trappist. Preserves and jams are a fun and colorful way to add sweetness to oatmeal instead of using brown sugar.

Oatmeal Closeup

We all know that toppings are what really makes ordinary oatmeal special, and Enjoy Life’s Mountain Mambo mix doesn’t disappoint with its combo of raw sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried apples, cranberries and mini chocolate chips. The dried apples are what really makes it special, they rehydrate in the cooked oatmeal and add little bites of apple goodness. Usually I just add a tablespoon of this and a tablespoon of that to oatmeal (various seeds, nuts and fruit) but it is nice that this comes pre-mixed so it is easy to open the bag and sprinkle some on, great for when you are half asleep in the early morning hours. 🙂

You’ve all heard the statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors include inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. While certain things like heart defects cannot be prevented, making lifestyle changes that lower or eliminate the known risks can greatly reduce your chances of being another statistic.

While exercise and healthy diets are important, it is important to know what your numbers are and track your progress.

A few weeks ago I attended a free community healthy event where the focus is on this very thing – getting to know your numbers. It only took 30 minutes of my time (did I mention it was free?) so there was no excuse not to go, you didn’t even need health insurance!

While they gave me my weight, BMI, blood pressure and waist measurements at the event, the results of the blood test were mailed to me.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or registered dietician. The following are my personal results and opinion, and while researched and posted in good faith, are merely my own personal opinion. Please consult with your own doctor before following any advice.

Fasting Blood Plasma Glucose (FPG)
Less than 100 mg/dL … Normal
100-125 mg/dL … Impaired/Pre-diabetes
126 or higher … Diabetes

2011 FPG: 81 mg/dL
2012 FPG: 88 mg/dL
Increased +7 mg/dL but still within the normal range.

Total Cholesterol
Less than 200 … Desirable
200-239 … Borderline High
240 or higher … High

2011 Total Cholesterol: 218
2012 Total Cholesterol: 227
Increased +9 and technically considered in the borderline high range, but this is because my HDL is high. This is where things get tricky, see below.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) – Bad Cholesterol
Less than 100 … Optimal
100-129 … Near Optimal/Above Optimal
130-159 … Borderline High
160-189 … High
190 or higher … Very High

2011 LDL Cholesterol: 105 mg/dL
2012 LDL Cholesterol: 101 mg/dL
Decreased -4 mg/dL, (1 mg/dL away from optimal).

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) – Good Cholesterol
Less than 40 (men), 50 (women) – Major Heart Disease Risk Factor
60 and above – Gives Protection Against Heart Disease

2011 HDL Cholesterol: 98 mg/dL
2012 HDL Cholesterol: 112 mg/dL
Increased +14 mg/dL.

Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL)
0-32 mg/dL – Normal

2012 VLDL: 14 mg/dL
Middle of normal range. 

Less than 150 mg/dL … Normal
150-199 mg/dL … Borderline High
200-499 mg/dL … High
500 mg/dL or higher … Very High

2011 HDL Cholesterol: 77 mg/dL
2012 HDL Cholesterol: 70 mg/dL
Decreased -7 mg/dL, well within normal range.

I was very happy with my numbers this year. The only number that I am a tiny bit concerned with is the fasting blood glucose. While it is in a good range, it did raise quite a bit from last year. I’m just going to keep an eye on that one so it doesn’t raise any higher. My overall cholesterol number is high, but this is due to my high HDL numbers. Doctors now look at the ratio to determine your overall risk. Here are the tables for determining ratios.

Total Cholesterol to HDL Ratio
Low Risk … 4.0 (men), 3.8 (women)
Average Risk … 5.0 (men), 4.5 (women)
Moderate Risk … 9.5 (men), 7.0 (women)
High Risk … >23.0 (men), >11 (women)

2012 Cholesterol to HDL Ratio: 2.0
Low risk. 

LDL to HDL Ratio
Low Risk … 1.0 (men), 1.5 (women)
Average Risk … 3.6 (men), 3.2 (women)
Moderate Risk … 6.3 (men), 5.0 (women)
High Risk … 8.0 (men), 6.1 (women)

2012 LDL to HDL Ratio: 0.9
Low risk.  

I was doing some research, and having an HDL number above 100 is not that common (from what I have read) so I feel very fortunate. I believe that my HDL is high because I eat a lot of avocados, beans and oatmeal – which are all said to raise this number. So while my diet may not always be perfect (I splurge on foods all the time), eating healthy foods really help to balance things, I truly believe that. Now that I am eating salmon (I had not been incorporating it into my diet previously) I wonder if it will go up even more! Exercise and not smoking also help keep your numbers within a good range.

Your cholesterol picture is more than just the overall number, the ratios are what is important. It is also said that LDL particle size plays a role. How do you find out your particle size? A ployacrylamide gradient gel electrophoresis (PGGE) test is used to measure particle size and determine if you are a Pattern A (large, buoyant particles) or a Pattern B (small, dense particles). Larger particles are said to be better because they float through the blood stream without attaching to walls of blood vessels. There is also a Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) Cholesterol Test, which is a more detailed than the standard Lipid Profile, and I believe this tells you LDL particle patterns. I am not sure what the difference is between a PGGE and a VAP, I want to do more research on this.

Another ratio that I did not talk about here is the ratio of HDL to Triglycerides. Low HDL combined with high triglycerides is cause for concern.

For now, I don’t feel a need to do any more detailed testing as all numbers point to a desirable cholesterol situation. I am enjoying learning more about all of this though, as I get geeked out about these kinds of things. It is fascinating to think of low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles depositing cholesterol to tissues and then the high density lipoprotein (HDL) particles carrying cholesterol away from tissues to the liver where the body can get rid of it. It is amazing how the balance of these things, along with other factors, make up your overall portrait of health.

There is a lot of learn about cholesterol and all the different ratios, particle sizes and different view points and studies, and I don’t claim to know it all. I do encourage you to do your own research (if you haven’t already) and learn all you can about it.

Knowledge is power, and if you don’t know your numbers, make an appointment to get them now so you have a baseline to compare to. It is worth knowing for peace of mind, and if they are less than ideal you still have time to change them around!

What are your favorite heart healthy foods? Do you have a go-to oatmeal combo? Do you go with old fashioned rolled oats, steel cut oats or instant oats?

Remember to ♥ your ♥! And ♥ someone else’s ♥, too. 🙂

Categories: Health, Nutrition | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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