Category Archives: Cooking

Eight Of My Favorite Diet Breakfasts

I’ve never been much for eating breakfast. Even as a kid, I could take it or leave it. But all the nutritionists agree, it’s an important meal. So I’ve adapted. I even have a few favorites.

  1. If you’re on-the-go, grab one of those six packs of crackers. I like Lance brand the best and most of them are only 130 calories.
  2. Since summer is right around the corner, I like to eat cantaloupe and cottage cheese.
  3. Any other time of the year, you can eat one of those Cottage Doubles that Breakstone sells in the dairy section of your supermarket. They’re only 100 calories. I spread the mixture on 3 or 4 saltines or graham crackers.
  4. I also like peanut butter and sliced banana on rice cakes or whole wheat toast, but remember if you’re trying to keep your fruit per day down to 2, then a whole banana counts as 2 fruit. Your daily intake is done for the day, but if you like peanuts and bananas, it’s worth it.
  5. 1/2 large bagel (or a small one that you can find in the supermarket freezer) with cream cheese. Go for a little zing and use some fruity cream cheese. I love the strawberry. Plus this is a pretty filling breakfast. Or you can forget the traditional cream cheese and exchange it for a slice of Swiss cheese and warm it in a toaster oven.
  6. Another good idea is to keep frozen fruit in your freezer i.e. blueberries, bing cherries, pineapples. Throw a couple of them into a packet of Instant Quaker Oatmeal, add water and microwave. You’ll be surprised how wonderful oatmeal tastes with plump cherries. Try a different fruit each morning. It’s addictive.
  7. On the weekend, when you have a little more time, spoil yourself and prepare an egg, some turkey sausage and a slice of toast.
  8. My one last suggestion to you is to keep a supply of fresh vegetables in your freezer. They’re every bit as important to have as the fruit. I always have chopped onions, scallions, bell peppers and chives in my freezer. I chop them when I bring them home from the supermarket. The beauty of having them handy is, you can whip up a really great breakfast with them. Scramble 1 large egg and 1 egg white with any or all of the above veggies mentioned. Serve over a toasted English Muffin or bread of your choice. You won’t feel deprived at all.

Each of the breakfasts above can be topped off with a cup of tea or coffee. Personally, I forego fruit juice because I don’t like to drink my calories, but if that’s your passion, go for it. Just remember if you have apple juice in the morning, you can’t have that apple in the afternoon.

The other thing you’ll find missing from my list is cold cereal. That’s because I like all the “wrong” kinds of cereals–all those sugary flakes and stuff like that. My best defense is to leave them on the shelves at the supermarket.

My final word of caution–if you’d prefer to grab a granola bar in the morning, check the calories. Some of them are deadly.

Diet – 2012 New Tricks

The most popular New Year’s Resolution year after year? Try to lose weight.

Here’s the newest suggestion that has come down the pike for the year 2012 and I’m going to give it a whirl since it has to do with carbohydrates. And I love my carbs.

Eat your three meals, as usual, but don’t eat any carbohydrates with your dinner. That means you can eat a sandwich for lunch with actual bread and you can have a slice of toast for breakfast with an egg or two.

At dinner, fill up on proteins and veggies. If you start with a salad or a vegetable beef soup, for instance, you will feel quite full without potatoes, etc. with your main meal.

For your sweet tooth, later in the evening, raid the freezer and munch on a sugarless fudgesicle.

If it’s salt you crave, crank up the microwave and pop a single serving of popcorn. I know technically that’s considered a carbohydrate, but what harm can an itty-bit of popcorn do if it assuages your hunger?

Of course, one of the other ways to lose weight that’s being touted loudly these days is to eat five or six small meals throughout the day. Maybe that works for some people, but personally, that means I’d have to think about food all day long. To tell you the truth, I get busy and forget to eat all those tiny meals, so that doesn’t work for me.

The bottom line–there’s no panacea. It’s still about eating less and exercising more, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try new ways of taking off the weight.

Tomato, Tomahto

Whichever way you say it, you haven’t eaten a really good tomato in a very long time–well, unless you’re growing your own or buying from a farmers market. However, you are eating really, really pretty tomatoes: bright red, no blemishes, smooth skin, firm to the touch, perfect green stem. Too bad they’re red rocks with little or no juice inside.

photo from

Every year, it gets harder and harder to find an awful looking, ugly tomato–the ones that are grown to taste good, not to look good.

photo from

If you’re lucky enough to find one, don’t expect it to be bright red. Sometimes they’re more orange. And don’t bother to look for a perfect stem sticking out of its misshapen body, because there probably isn’t one.

If you’ve ever bent over and picked a tomato direct from the plant, you’ll know the minute you hold this ugly baby in the palm of your hand that it’s been sun-drenched and grown outside and maybe it hasn’t even been sprayed with “who knows what.”

So, the next time you pass the tomatoes in your supermarket, try to figure out why you don’t see those hideous looking tomatoes in the store anymore. Are we so enamored of beauty that our food has to look gorgeous, while real taste suffers?

Oh, well. Pretty is “in.”  So, I won’t even get started on our pretty, pretty red beef, or our pearly white eggs, or …

Easy Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

Last week I cooked a dish that called for broccoli florets. So there I was–stuck with the leftover stems. What to do. What to do. I chopped them up, threw them into a ziploc bag and put them in the frig.

Today I decided to make this soup. It turned out to be a good, delicious decision.

5 cups water
2 (14 oz) packages frozen, chopped broccoli
OR fresh broccoli, if you have it.
3 cups diced potatoes
¾ cup chopped onion
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cans cream of celery soup
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
6 oz Colby jack cheese, cubed

Cook the first 5 ingredients for 20 minutes (1/2 hour if using fresh broccoli).

Reduce heat and add soup and cheeses.  Simmer until cheese is melted.

Stir often so cheese does not stick.

Diet By Counting Calories

I’m sorry, but when I’m determined to eat a healthier diet and try to get back in shape, I can’t do it without counting calories. All of these other popular diet plans do nothing for me.

Once I become aware of how many calories I’m putting into my stomach, I begin to adjust and to understand how much I can eat and when I should stop.

A good rule to follow in life is “everything in moderation.” That’s the rule I follow when I decide to take off some pounds. After counting calories for a while, my mind and my body eventually come to a happy understanding and eating right becomes second nature.

In the beginning, though, to get myself on track, I go to my favorite site for help counting calories.

The site has helpful diet hints, but best of all, if you put in your current weight and plug in the amount of pounds you want to lose in a specified time, it calculates the number of calories you can eat in one day in order to reach your goal. Is that somethin’, or what?

Then you list the foods you eat during the day in the Health Tracker. It’s a snap. Sometimes, I even plan my meals for the following day.

Now I’m going in the kitchen to cook some pasta. Pasta? Yep. Because according to my Health Tracker, I’ve only eaten 861 calories today and it’s time for dinner.

I’m not in a huge hurry to lose my weight and I have a lot to lose. However, I’m not a person who is going to starve myself. I’ve given myself two years to lose 80 pounds.

There’s a method to my madness, because in order to do that, I can eat a whopping 1800 calories a day and still take all that weight off. Plus I can easily continue to eat that many calories after the weight melts slowly away. I don’t intend to gain it back!

Just for the record, 1 cup of cooked pasta equals 176 calories. And according to the site’s calculation, I can eat 2 cups without walking away with a busted-up conscience.

Need more laid-back inspiration?    Success or Failure?

Got to go and get that water boiling.

Quick & Easy Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb. ground beef, lean
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 or 2 cans of your favorite vegetable (or leftover veggies)
Instant Mashed Potatoes, you choose the amount of servings
OPTIONALS: Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 can Creamed Corn

Cook beef and onions in skillet until the meat is browned. Spoon into a baking casserole dish.

Prepare instant mashed potatoes. Add Shredded Cheddar, if you like. ** Place the prepared potatoes around the edges of the casserole dish on top of the beef.

Fill the center with vegetables (If using canned veggies, remember to drain beforehand.)

Bake in 425 oven for 15 minutes.   Serves 3 or 4 people.

**FOR A CHANGE OF PACE – Pour the can of creamed corn, straight from the can, over the beef, BEFORE adding the potatoes and veggies. Great!

6 Easy Diet Snacks

I’ve already demonstrated how to cook perfect hard-boiled eggs in my previous post, and they are the first items on my snack list, as well as on Heidi Klum’s.

  1. 2 Hard-boiled Eggs (only 150 calories)
  2. Eat your favorite cereal straight from the box. No milk? More cereal!
  3. Look for The Laughing Cow light cheese spread triangles in the dairy case. 1 triangle = 35 calories. (I can vouch for the Swiss flavor–it doesn’t taste like artificial muck!) 1 triangle easily covers 6 or 7 saltine crackers.
  4. Rice Cake smeared with 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter and 1/2  sliced banana
  5. Low-fat Cottage Cheese with plenty of fresh blueberries mixed in
  6. Listen up! There are 15 calories in a tablespoon of ReddiWip. Think about that. You can add some really good zippitydoodah to that blah jello. Live a little. Spritz on two whole tablespoons. I’m not talking about that fat free stuff, either. This is the real deal. Jello with fruit with a large dollop of whipped cream. Heaven help us!

Helpful Hints You Probably Already Know:

  • Don’t drink your calories.
  • Stay away from sweets.
  • Eat every morsel of food s-l-o-w-l-y.
  • Be realistic. If you lose one pound in a week, that’s “great.” If you lose 1/2 pound in a week, that’s “very, very good.”
  • Homemade vegetable soup is your friend. It’s easy to make. Empty a large can of chicken broth into a pot. Put every imaginable vegetable you have handy (fresh or frozen) into the broth. Cook over medium heat for at least an hour. Separate into 2-cup containers (or larger, if you want – there’s no limit to the amount you can eat). Then keep the containers handy in the frig and freezer.
  • I’m not even going to mention exercise, because that’s such a pain in the butt. But remember, if you walk down every aisle in the supermarket, or you shop at the mall. Hey, you’re walking–Excellent!
  • Most Important – Don’t beat yourself up. If you hate broiled scallops, but love fried scallops, what the heck. Order them, but fill the rest of your plate with veggies. Also start you meal with a salad. And stick with the cocktail sauce, not the tartar sauce. There you are–no guilty conscience at all.

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

“It’s so hard to peel a hard-boiled egg.” I hear this complaint over and over again. Therefore, I think it is time for me to share my secret.

Also, you might like to know. Heidi Klum’s exercise guru says that Heidi insists hard boiled eggs be available for that time of day when she needs to have a snack, something filling, but low in calories.

So, here you have it. This takes exactly 20 minutes.

Gently place eggs in pan. Cover with water. Eggs should fit tightly in the pan. You don’t want them rolling around while boiling.

Place pan on burner set on “high.”

The 20 minutes starts now. Set your timer.

Only lower the heat if your pot begins to spit or overflow, but keep the water boiling.

When the timer goes off, plunge the pan under cold running water and fill the pan immediately with ice cubes. The eggs must chill rapidly. Shut off the water and allow pan with cubes to sit for 10 minutes. Replenish ice cubes, if necessary.

Refrigerate eggs.

Now, for the crucial peeling. Crack the shell, not just a little. After you’ve started to crack it, roll it lightly along the counter. It will almost begin to peel itself. Finish peeling. Voila! Beautiful, shiny, smooth egg – ready to eat. Enjoy.

Recipe For Buttermilk Pie

Here’s a story about Buttermilk Pie.

A few years ago, my friend went to Texas for a week. She ate lunch in the same diner every afternoon for a week, and each time, she topped her meal off with their buttermilk pie. She had never tasted it before. By the end of the week, she managed to wangle the recipe from the cook.

When she returned to work, she laid the recipe on my desk and said, “Make it. You won’t be sorry.” I said, “Why don’t you make it?” She said, “I know it will taste better if you make it for me.”

The truth is anyone can make it. And I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. The best part – it’s mistake-proof. Take that as my word of honor, since I am not and never will be a superb baker. Great cook–yes! Baker–no!

You’ve got to try this.

Buttermilk Pie

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 tsp real vanilla
pinch of salt
1 pie shell (9 inch) (I use a ready made Pillsbury shell. You thaw it and then roll it into the pie pan–easy)

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Top of pie will be golden brown.

Bruschetta & Crostini

Someone asked me this week, if I had any good recipes for Bruschetta. Here they are. If you use a smaller loaf of bread, like French bread, the tasty morsels automatically become Crostini. You can serve them as an appetizer, while waiting for the main course to be served, or eat them right along with your meal. Superb!

Bruschetta – Tomato & Basil

Use 8 thick slices of Italian bread

Rub both sides with 2 large halved cloves of garlic OR sprinkle sparingly with garlic powder

Brush both sides with virgin olive oil

Toast the bread or, if you prefer, broil in oven-making sure to brown both sides.


4 ripe tomatoes, cored and diced

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

Salt, pepper

Spread on bread or serve separately so that each guest can prepare their own.

Bruschetta – Tomato & Mozzarella

Prepare Italian bread as above, but DO NOT toast.

Top each slice of bread with shredded mozzarella. Broil till the cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and top each slice with diced fresh tomato and fresh or dried oregano. (Go easy on the oregano)

Bruschetta – Garlic, Butter and Cheese

Use 8 thick slices of Italian bread

Spread with thin coat of butter (real butter)

Sprinkle with garlic powder (sparingly)

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese covering the entire surface

Broil until golden

Top each slice with diced fresh tomatoes or eat “as is” with no tomato added.