Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beef, Tomato, Green Pepper Stir-fry

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Looking for a great Chinese dish for dinner? Try this acclaimed recipe from my mother.
(It's at the end of the cited blog)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Family Mealtimes - Slow Down Childhood Obesity?

As seen on KMGH-TV 7

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Parents are concerned about all aspects of a child’s development-physical, mental, behavioral, social and educational.
Ø Multitudes of studies show that regular family mealtimes influence children more than time spent at school, studying, church, playing sports or in art activities
Ø Mealtimes at home are the single largest predictor of achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems for children.

Fifteen percent of children and adolescents are too heavy, with teenage obesity rates more than tripling in the past 20 years.
Ø The rise in obesity in the nation's young people may be partly due to fewer home-cooked meals, more calorie-dense foods, and more takeout and prepackaged dinners.
Ø Alarmingly some health care professionals suggest that the 25 million American kids, who are obese, may be the first generation to live sicker and die younger than their parents.
Ø Surge in children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Less than 4 percent of childhood diabetes cases in 1990 were type 2, that number has risen to approximately 20 percent, varying from 8 percent to 45 percent, depending on the age of the group.
Ø Of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 85 percent are obese.

That is why I am here today promoting family mealtimes. Studies have shown that intervention programs at school can help children make better food selections, and decrease risk of overweight and obesity. You can download a free kit to help your family have great mealtimes:

Ø Studies provided education and intervention with parents as an important component of those programs.
Ø Kit-lots of resources that families can download to produce quality mealtimes

Ø Fun tips for cooking with kids
Ø Making mealtimes enjoyable
Ø Kid-tested, quick and easy family recipes

Children who have regular dinners with family also have better nutrition intake, consuming more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals, and less saturated fat and trans fat.
Ø Recipe-heavy on veggies-Cool Veggie Pizza (below)

Making it fun:
Ø Conversation – Share funny stories and Conversation Starter Cards
o What made you laugh today?
o What is the nicest thing you did for someone today?
o Name the 2-3 of the most important people alive today
Ø Participation
o Recipe – fruit salad –What is the fruit? Take turns picking fruit and everyone eats at the same time. (below)
o Recipe – Beef Pitas (below)

Introduce new foods and traditions
Ø - daybook of celebrations around the world
o National Nutrition month
o National Noodle Month
o Go Nuts over Texas Peanuts Week
o National Chocolate Week
Ø My mother’s recipe for Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Compared to children in the control group, those in the intervention program ate less junk food, more fruits and vegetables, and drank less juice and more 1 percent milk. When they compared the children in the study group to those in the control group, the researchers concluded that the program is an effective obesity prevention strategy.



Cool Veggie Pizza

Crust1 pound frozen whole wheat bread doughAll purpose flour1/4 teaspoon cornmealPreheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 12-inch pizza pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray or coat pan lightly with oil. Sprinkle pan with cornmeal, shaking to coat bottom. Thaw bread dough according to package directions. On a lightly floured board with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 14-15 inch circle. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

8 oz. low-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon dill
1 package ranch dressing mix
Mix filling ingredients until thoroughly blended. Spread on cooled baked bread dough crust.

Top with a combination of raw veggies: grated zucchini, grated carrots, chopped tomatoes and green peeper, broccoli, cauliflower, and scallions. Use your imagination to add what you have on hand.

Star Fruit SaladMakes 4 servings - Each serving equals 1 cup of fruit or vegetables From Produce for Better Health

2 star fruit 2 kiwis 2 bananas 1 cup mango fruit nectar 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
Peel kiwi and banana, cut into medium size pieces. Slice star fruit into ¼-inch thickness. Combine all fruits in bowl. Add nectar over mixture. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Top with vanilla yogurt.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 201, Protein 5g, Fat 2g, Calories From Fat 7%, Cholesterol 3mg, Carbohydrates 46g, Fiber 6g, Sodium 46mg.

Stir-Fried Beef Gyros in Pita Pockets Makes 4 servings.

1 pound beef round tip steaks, cut 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, halved, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 pita breads, cut in half
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
½ cup prepared cucumber ranch dressing

Stack beef steaks; cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1-inch wide strips. Toss with garlic and oregano.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion; stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes. Remove.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 of beef; stir-fry 1 minute or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. (Do not overcook.) Remove.

Repeat with remaining beef. Return beef and onion to skillet; heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in pita pockets with tomatoes and dressing.

Nutrition information per serving: 503 calories; 24 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 5 g monounsaturated fat); 75 mg cholesterol; 721 mg sodium; 40 g carbohydrate; 2.2 g fiber; 29 g protein; 7.2 mg niacin; 0.4 mg vitamin B6; 1.3 mcg vitamin B12; 3.9 mg iron; 43.2 mcg selenium; 4.6 mg zinc.

Chinese Noodles with Peanut Sauce
(Mary Lee’s mother’s recipe)

12 oz. noodles

Peanut Butter and Pepper Sauce
2 Tablespoons peanut butter diluted with 3 Tablespoons warm water
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tablespoons finely chopped scallion

Mix all ingredients except garlic and scallion into a very smooth sauce. Add garlic and scallion before serving.

Selection of Garnishes:
Chopped scallions
Chopped cilantro
Fresh Chinese bean sprouts
Fresh raw snow peas
Sliced cucumber
Fresh spinach
Shredded cooked chicken

Cook the noodles "al-dente," drain, and allow to cool.
Pour sauce over the noodles and toss to coat. Each person males a selection of garnishes and serve.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Which water to drink?

Which water to drink?
By Suzanne S. BrownThe Denver Post
As published in the Denver Post 03/09/2008
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We know we're supposed to drink water to stay healthy. But increasingly the message is that it's not enough to drink tap water when a bottle can give you an alphabet's worth of vitamins, berry extracts, herbal stimulants and sweeteners to boost flavor and health benefits.

These so-called "enhanced" waters can be fine for you, but read labels and don't be misled by language crafted to sell the beverages, says Mary Lee Chin, a registered dietitian. "Words like 'enlighten' and 'challenge' aren't health claims," she says. "You need to separate the marketing phrases from the nutrient content."

In 2006 alone, 140 new products were added to the $10.8 billion wholesale bottled-water market. The category continues to show double-digit growth, says Gary Hemphill, managing director of the Beverage Marketing Corp., a New York research and consulting company.

"Companies are using water as a platform for innovation, adding flavors, sweeteners and nutrients, minerals and vitamins," he says.

While beverage makers are promoting their waters as being superior to what flows from the tap, do these liquids do any more for workout buffs and office workers than drain their wallets and contribute to the mountains of plastic in landfills?

Adding a splash of flavor is good if it gets people to drink more water, says Jacqueline R. Berning, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and consultant for the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Indians. The athletes she works with — and Americans in general — don't drink enough water, but she says enhanced waters can be trouble, too.
"First they added a splash of flavor. Then they added a splash of vitamins. The problem became the typical American thing: If a little is good, more is better. What you don't want is to get 100 percent of your (recommended daily allowance) of a vitamin and then be drinking three bottles (of enhanced water) in a day," Berning says.

"I tell my high school athletes they should be drinking water from the fountain every time they walk by it and to use these other beverages to top off the tank to provide fuel and electrolytes when they need them during practice or games."

Find your flavor
For the rest of us, dietitians say flavored water is OK for those who don't like it plain, but they also caution consumers to read labels to avoid getting too much sugar, too many calories and unhealthy quantities of vitamins or other additives.

Chin, the registered dietitian, says she has three simple tests for each glass of water she drinks: Does she like the taste, is it safe and is it cheap?

All three factors are met by the water that comes out the faucets in her Denver home, but like Berning, she acknowledges people are bored with plain water. And if people don't like the taste of their water, they can filter it or add their own flavoring, she says.

The nutrition part is where Cynthia Sass sees some potential problems. "I don't like people to look at water as a source of energy boost or amino acids," says Sass, a registered dietitian and nutrition director at Prevention magazine who writes about enhanced waters in the April issue.
Sass prefers that people meet their nutrition needs from food or multivitamins. "People who tend to gravitate to these things are already taking a vitamin. And drinking too many stimulants, whether it's ginseng or green tea, can cause a spike in blood pressure."

She also says that drinks can be fairly empty calories. Eating an orange, apple or banana will give you more nutritional value.

Sass recommends saving money and controlling the content and flavor of your water by amending it yourself. That's what she does because she's among the many who don't love the taste of tap water.

"I'll just add a squeeze of lemon or lime, pure fruit juice or fruit-infused green tea," says Sass. Vary the flavors, alternating blueberry, cherry and other types of juice, she suggests. "It's a great opportunity to take in a wider spectrum of antioxidants. I think of them as little bodyguards, protecting us from the effects of aging and disease," she says, adding that a study of women who ate a variety of produce found that they had significantly greater levels of antioxidants in their blood than women who ate the same thing every day.

For Sass, the choice of water comes down to two things: flavor and temperature.
"I tend to like water at more of a room temperature, but some people want it really cold," she says.

"Whatever it takes to keep you drinking it through the day is what you should do." How much do you need?

There's been plenty of debate about how much water to drink, and not everyone believes in the old eight-glasses-a-day recommendation.

Let your thirst, activity level and diet guide you in how much to drink, says Chin. The dietitian cites a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Physiology that found healthy adults living in temperate climates and not engaged in rigorous activities didn't need large amounts of water.
Researcher Heinz Valtin recommended simply drinking when thirsty, and he wrote that caffeinated drinks can count toward satisfying fluid requirements. In February 2004, the Institute of Medicine issued new recommendations agreeing with Valtin.

The new guidelines remove the eight- glasses-a-day recommendation and suggest healthy adults allow thirst to determine their fluid needs.

But Chin says to be mindful of physical activity, heat and humidity, which boost a body's need to rehydrate. And those who are going to be physically active for long periods should consider sports drinks that hydrate and provide easily usable sugar and electrolytes.

Illnesses accompanied by increased body temperature, excessive perspiration, vomiting, frequent urination or diarrhea can also increase hydration needs.

While water is an important ingredient for staying healthy, people should never look at it as a substitute for a well-balanced diet, Chin says. "Don't fool yourself into thinking that if you didn't have five servings of vegetables today you can make up for it with water."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Food Facts and Fallacies-Answers to Quiz

As seen on KMGH-TV7

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Thanks to all who took the quiz to learn more about the facts behind the food myths, and earn a chance to win a copy of “The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food & Nutrition Guide.” Below are the correct answers to the quiz.


1. FALSE. If you feel tired and run down, you probably should take more vitamins and minerals, especially those labeled “natural.” There is no substitution for healthy eating by popping a pill. Scientists believe that it is the combination of nutrients, the vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients that work more effectively when obtained from their basic source of food. Supplements can be used to top up your nutrient intake if, occasionally, you feel your diet has been less than adequate, but they shouldn’t be relied upon on a long-term basis.

2. FALSE. Cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil is better for you than other oils because it contains less fat. "Cold-pressed" actually refers to a production method of olive oil, which involves minimal processing at low temperatures. All oils and fats supply the same amount of fat calories, 9 per gram and should be consumed in moderation.

3. TRUE. Honey, brown and raw sugar is nutritionally the same as white sugar. The brown sugar sold at grocery stores is actually white granulated sugar with added molasses. Brown sugar contains minute amounts of minerals, but unless you eat a gigantic portion of brown sugar every day, the mineral content difference between brown sugar and white sugar is absolutely insignificant.

4. FALSE. Sugar causes diabetes. Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin, not an excess of sugar in the diet. However, once someone has diabetes it is critical to watch the frequency, amount, and types of carbohydrate consumed, including sugar, to maintain good blood sugar control.

5. FALSE. You should limit your starches when trying to lose weight. Starches are an important source of energy for your body. They become high in calories when you fry them, make them with rich sauces or top with high-caloried fats like butter, sour cream, or mayonnaise, or eat too much of them. Choose starchy foods that are high in fiber, like whole grains, beans, and peas. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 6 to 11 servings a day from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group. An example of a serving size is 1/2 cup of pasta, rice, or cooked cereal or a single slice of bread.

6. FALSE. Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain. It does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight. Too many calories at any time of the day will cause your body to store extra calories as fat. However many people will overeat in the evening, seeking to relieve the stress of the workday, or may consume excess calories unconsciously while watching TV.

7. FALSE. Eating red meat is bad for your health and will make it harder to lose weight. Red meat, pork, chicken, and fish all contain some saturated fat and cholesterol. They also have nutrients that are important for good health, like protein, iron, and zinc. Eating lean meat (meat without a lot of visible fat) in small amounts can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan. When choosing cuts of meat, look for the term “loin” which provides a lower fat content.

8. FALSE. New research confirms “eating for two” is necessary during pregnancy. Energy requirements vary among individuals. Unfortunately, the idea that pregnancy is an ice cream free-for-all is a nutrition myth. It is generally recommended that pregnant women increase their daily intake by 100 kcal in the first trimester and 300 kcal in the second and third trimesters. An extra snack before bedtime consisting of a fruit, a serving of milk or yogurt, and a few biscuits is often enough.

9. FALSE. For high school athletes, consuming extra protein is necessary to build muscle mass during their adolescent period of high growth and activity. Contrary to claims of body building magazines and protein supplement companies, extra protein does nothing to bulk up muscle unless you are also doing significant weight training at the same time. Even then the increased requirement can easily come from food. A potential problem with supplements is the body has to work overtime to get rid of excess protein, and kidneys can become distressed as a result.

10. TRUE. Drinking chocolate milk immediately after a workout will improve muscle recovery. This popular drink refuels tired muscles and repairs minor tissue damage. Researchers at Indiana University recently found that athletes can consider refueling with chocolate milk, which can refresh exhausted muscles after exercise. The study found when athletes drank lowfat chocolate milk after an intense bout of exercise they were able to work out longer during a second round of exercise compared to when they drank a carbohydrate replacement beverage.

Food Facts and Fallacies: What’s the truth for a healthier diet?

Sure, your friends and family mean well - but how accurate is that advice they've been giving you all of these years?
Ø Many myths and misperceptions exist within the field of food & nutrition.

So why do so many of us fall for these?

Ø As a country we're prone to fads.
Ø We absorb "guidance" from our families, many which are “old wives tales” that nutrition science has shown not to hold up as a truth.
Ø We want instantaneous gratification: fad-diet books are so popular.
Ø We have that beacon of frequently off-the-wall information, the Internet.

As part of March National Nutrition Month, we are going to find out the truth behind some common food facts and fallacies.
Ø Many are common beliefs that we have had so long, that seem to make sense, that they were accepted as truth.
Ø Recommend American Dietetic Association (ADA) and registered dietitians as a resource.

Today we are setting the record straight, looking at five food beliefs you might have heard --but maybe should or shouldn't believe.

Fresh is always best and contains more nutrients than frozen or canned food. false
Ø Frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh.
Ø Frozen or canned produce is often packaged right after it has been picked, which helps keep most of its nutrients.
Ø Processes help to extend shelf life, make food safer and in some cases can actually improve its nutritional quality.
Ø Beta-carotene in canned carrots is more available to the body than that fresh ones. Fresh peas, which have been harvested and frozen immediately, have more vitamin C than peas that have been stored at room temperature for a few days before consumption.
Ø Fresh produce can lose nutrients after being exposed to light or air, subjected to too long transport, or improper handling.

Everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. false
Ø Everyone has heard the age-old advice to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day.
Ø A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Physiology evaluated the old advice of 8 ounces of water, 8 times a day. After a thorough review, researcher concluded there was inadequate evidence that healthy adults -- living in temperate climates and not engaged in rigorous activities -- need large amounts of water.
Ø In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new guidelines that remove the eight-glasses-a-day recommendation for normal, healthy adults and said that healthy adults may use thirst to determine their fluid needs.
Ø Water is a terrific thirst quencher (and the price is right), but milk and juice -- even coffee, tea and soft drinks, and food -- contribute to your water requirements.

Eating an egg or two every day is safe for most people. true
Ø Current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines suggest most people can enjoy an egg a day as long as they watch their overall cholesterol intake. They recommend people limit their daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less. Egg yolks contain 214 to 220 milligrams of cholesterol.

Ø Eggs are a nutrient dense food. They are an inexpensive source of complete protein and contain a variety of nutrients including healthy doses of vitamins A, B12, D, K, and riboflavin.
Ø This myth began because egg yolks have a concentrated amount of cholesterol of any food. However, it’s the dietary saturated fat in a food that causes blood cholesterol to rise, not the cholesterol, if consumed in moderation.

Avoid processed foods. false
Ø Some processed foods, such as breads and breakfast cereals, have vitamins and minerals added for extra nutrition.
Ø The growing interest in health and nutrition has spurred the production of a whole new range of foods with added health and nutritional benefits (called "f
unctional foods") such as fat spreads with added fiber to lower cholesterol.
Ø Processing can also make some nutrients more available. For example, removing phytic acid from grain foods by removing the bran helps to improve the absorption of
iron from a food.
Ø Processing tomatoes into a tomato paste or sauce increases the amount of lycopene (an
antioxidant) that is available to the body.

Healthy food always costs more. well-maybe: choosing carefully is important
Ø This is a difficult one to deal with. It does seem that a bag of chips costs less than a dozen apples. But if you look closely, and shop wisely, you'll see that some of the healthiest foods don't cost much.
Ø In general, the less packaging, the less you'll pay. Look for bulk cereals from bins, not only in health food stores, but the local supermarket.
Ø In the produce aisle, keep in mind that eating seasonally and locally can help your bottom line; midwinter blueberries can cost up to $4.99 a pint, but local summer berries are about half that price.
Ø When the weather warms up, in Colorado we have access to many farmer’s markets. Less packaging, no middleman, and decreased costs of transport.
Ø Finally, healthier food choices can lower your risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes, lowering the cost of your health care in the long term.

For more information go to:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fruits & Veggie-More Matters!

Next Generation of 5 A Day!
Fruits & Veggies-More Matters

As seen on KMGH-TV7

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Do you remember the Five a Day Program? The recommendation was for Americans to consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Now, new research shows that eating more of the plant stuff confers even better health benefits.

To more effectively meet your needs, there is a new health initiative that takes the 5 A Day Program a step further. This program builds on the momentum that 5 A Day created, taking it to the next level by encouraging you to eat more fruits and veggies at every eating occasion.

Fruits and Veggies: MORE matters
Ø The new recommendations call for none servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Ø This translates into 2 cups of fruit/day plus 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day.
Ø About 90 % of Americans don't eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a registered dietitian I know people are convinced they need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but they find the task daunting-so are skipping it.
Ø That's alarming, considering how important vegetables are to maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle — but not surprising, given that many people would love to have barbecue sauce, French fries and ketchup classified as vegetable servings and be done with the whole affair.
Ø Eating produce help lower cholesterol, prevent diseases like cancer and heart disease, aid in digestion and help maintain satiety, so you feel full for a longer amount of time.

For March National Nutrition Month, I come armed with a sample day’s menu to illustrate how to fit in the recommended 4 ½ cups.
Ø People aren’t opposed, they just need more tasteful ideas.
Ø And today, I decided to go a bit more gourmet. I know everyone is busy, time-challenged to shop, and cook. But there is keen interest in fine dining and gourmet cooking.
Ø I have brought elegant food dishes that look complicated, but in actuality are simple to make.

Let’s start with breakfast: Fiesta Brunch Strata
Ø Filled with raisins, and spiced with pimentos, green chilies and salsa. Serve with red potatoes, and a beautiful assortment of fresh fruit, and tomato juice with celery.
Ø Already you have 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables
Ø Raisins are an easy way to slip in extra nutrition. Low-fat, and filled with fiber, anti-oxidants, potassium and flavor, just ¼ cup equates to a fruit serving. The vitamin C content of the tomato juice helps absorption of the iron content of the eggs and raisins.

Lunch: Caramelized Onion Soup with Golden Raisin Pesto
Ø The savory soup is filled with onions and tomatoes. An elegant pesto of cilantro, pine nuts and golden raisins tops the soup.
Ø Serve with a sandwich of thinly sliced turkey. Use olive or raisin bread to add to the veggie count. And don’t wimp out with a limp piece of lettuce. Stuff your sandwich with crunchy cucumber slices, and sprouts to up the veggie count.

Snack: Try zucchini bread or carrot-raisin bran muffins. That way, it doesn't seem like you're being forced to eat a side fruit or plate of veggies.

Family social hour: Pour everybody a glass of his or her favorite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.
Ø We want the kids in on the elegance too!

Dinner: Maple-Pesto Salmon Salad with California Golden Raisins and Toasted Pine Nuts
Ø An easy way to fit more veggies in is to serve main dish salads. These can be cold, or try this hot dish made with salmon.
Ø Pile asparagus spears, hearts of palm and California raisins to towering heights and top with grilled salmon.
Ø Congratulations: you have just finished your veggies servings.

For those who just can't — or won't — make vegetables a part of their daily diet, there are always supplements that can be taken.
Be warned that many vitamin supplements are not well absorbed by the body, nor do they take the place of real food.
Trying to take separate nutrients in pill form can never compare to eating real, whole foods.
Scientific evidence shows that the protective nutrients found in vegetables work in harmony to improve health, rather than alone, as in supplements.


Fiesta Brunch Strata
Make it; keep it in the refrigerator overnight; bake it and serve a hearty brunch entrée.

12 slices bread, lightly buttered and cubed
3 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1-1/2 cups California raisins
2-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
8 eggs, beaten
3 cups milk
1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1 jar (2.5 ounces) diced pimiento, drained

Arrange half the bread cubes in bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Spread chicken and raisins over bread. Sprinkle with 2 cups of the cheese. Top with remaining bread cubes. In large bowl, combine eggs, milk, green chilies and pimiento; mix well. Pour over bread cubes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover tightly. Refrigerate overnight.
Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover strata. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Serves 12: Nutrition Facts (per serving) Calories 320 (23% from fat); Total Fat 8g (sat 2.5g, mono 3g, poly 1g); Cholesterol 165mg; Protein 27g; Carbohydrates 34g; Fiber 3g; Iron 3mg; Sodium 540mg; Calcium 330mg;

Caramelized Onion Soup with Golden Raisin Pesto

Olive oil, as needed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
4 large ripe tomatoes; cored, peeled and diced*
1 quart chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Golden Raisin Pesto
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil, as needed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup California golden raisins
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro leaves; for garnish
Whole California golden raisins; for garnish

In sauté pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil until almost smoking. Add onions and cook until caramelized, stirring constantly. Stir in garlic and tomatoes, stirring all the while; cook about 5 minutes. Then add broth; bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste.
Golden Raisin Pesto
In blender or food processor, combine cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil as needed, pine nuts and raisins. Pulse until well blended and smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, adjust seasonings in soup; divide and ladle into bowls. Garnish with dollop of pesto, fresh cilantro leaves and whole raisins.

*One can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes may be substituted

Serves 8: Nutrition Facts (per serving) Calories 130 (22% from fat); Total Fat 3.5g (sat 1g, mono 1g, poly 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Protein 4g; Carbohydrates 23g; Fiber 3g; Iron 2mg; Sodium 70mg; Calcium 28mg

Maple-Pesto Salmon Salad with California Golden Raisins and Toasted Pine Nuts

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon good-quality maple syrup
2 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
12 to 15 thin asparagus spears, blanched or lightly steamed
1 cup California golden raisins
1 can (7.75-ounce) hearts of palm, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 pound salmon steak, divided into 4 pieces
4 large red lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (pignoli), coarsely chopped

Whisk vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup and pesto together in bottom of a large mixing bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Cut asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces and add to bowl with raisins, hearts of palm and basil. Toss to coat and combine. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

To serve, brush salmon with reserved dressing and let stand about 30 minutes. Place one red lettuce leaf on each of 4 individual salad plates. Divide chilled salad and spoon on top. Quickly grill or broil salmon and arrange on top of salads. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Note: Even better with additional vinaigrette on the side.

4 Servings: Nutrition Facts (per serving) Calories 410 (26% from fat); Total Fat 13g (sat 2g, mono 0g, poly 0g); Cholesterol 75mg; Protein 35g; Carbohydrates 44g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 360mg; Daily Values: Vitamin A 15%, Vitamin C 25%, Calcium 10%, Iron 25%.

Hot and Sweet Watermelon

This sweet and spicy dessert is refreshing and very healthy.

¾ tsp. whole peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp. very finely chopped mint leaves
6 cups ¾-inch seedless red watermelon cubes
Fresh mint leaves

Place peppercorns on chopping block. Using the bottom of a heavy saucepan, press firmly, into a heavy downward motion and crush peppercorns into a semi-coarse texture. Combine ground peppercorns with finely chopped mint. In a large bowl, toss spice mixture gently but thoroughly with watermelon cubes. Spoon into 4 individual serving glasses or bowls. Serve chilled, garnished with a fresh mint leaf.

4 Servings: Nutrition Facts (per serving) Calories: 71; Total Fat: 0.4g; Saturated Fat: 0g; % of Calories from Fat: 5%; Protein: 1g; Carbohydrates: 18g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sodium: 2mg

For more information and recipes