How the Skinny Girls Stay Skinny

Do you ever wonder how that ever-skinny girl stays thin? ( I’m not referring to those who can eat whatever they want and never gain a pound…  The ladies I’m talking about have to work hard to keep a rocking body.)  Here’s a few tips that will get you closer to being that girl.

Keeping your skinny figure

Eat healthy snacks

Leave a bowl of fruit on your counter for easy access.  Plan to eat fruit, vegetables, or nuts for your snacks throughout the week.    Buy nuts in handy snack packs or in bulk and divvy out into individual bags.   Get a variety of items that you like–don’t just buy apples!  Grab a nectarine and an orange while you’re at it.  If you are just eating out of boredom, buy some gum and chew that instead of resorting to eating. [Read more...]

A Classic Tomato Sauce to Impress Any Guest

tomato sauce recipe

If there was a queen of pasta sauces, it would be Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.

This pasta sauce is so rich that it tastes like red silk carefully draped over pasta.   The best part of the recipe is it is so simple–put tomatoes in a pot, add butter and onion, wait 45 minutes and voila!

Maybe you’ve never heard of Marcella Hazan—the genius cookbook writer making the authentic Italian food capable for the U.S.  If you haven’t checked out her cookbook, The Essentials of Italian Cooking, it comes highly recommended.   I gave it to my husband as a gift a few years back, and it has since been our go-to book for entertaining.  It is filled with almost 500 recipes that will make your taste buds feel like you just arrived in Italy.  This cookbook is the masterpiece of authentic Italian cooking, on par with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (for French food).

Back to the tomato sauce…

pasta sauce ingredientsThere are still plenty of tomatoes in my area, so pick up some fresh tomatoes at the area farmer’s market or other places where local produce is available to make this masterpiece of a sauce. If you are using fresh tomatoes to make a sauce, you can take the skin off more easily by putting your tomatoes in the freezer.  This makes the water in the tomatoes expand and makes the de-skinning process easier, but is not recommended for any other tomato application.  The recipe also doesn’t call for any pureeing, but if you have picky eaters who despise chunks—go ahead and use that food processor!  If fresh tomatoes are not in the cards, this recipe also works with canned whole tomatoes.  I suggest those imported from Italy, no salt, with their juice.

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Adapted from The Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Serves 6.

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes or 1 28 oz can of Italian imported tomatoes, whole
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 cloves garlic (optional)
Salt to taste
1 to 1 1/2 pound pasta
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table

tomato sauce preperationPut fresh prepared tomatoes (or canned) tomatoes into a saucepan.  Add butter, onion, garlic cloves, salt, and cook with cover on at a simmer for 45 minutes or “until the fat floats free from the tomato” while stirring occasionally. Add salt as needed.  Discard the onion and garlic before tossing with pasta in the pan. Serve with spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni with parmigiano-reggiono.

Want to impress your significant other with a delicious, authentic Italian meal?  This sauce is sure to impress and it’s an simple recipe.  Your guests will ask where you got the pasta sauce!

Americans are Fat

If you ask a foreigner about what they think of Americans, there is a multitude of answers he or she might give you, good and bad.  No matter how they characterize the U.S., there is one truth we can’t deny:  Americans are fat.

We are getting fatter in the USA

You probably already know why Americans are fat.  Just look at what the typical American eats, and you’ll get your answers.  Cheetos!  Oreos!  Snickers!  You don’t have to look to the stars to know why our asses are huge!

When Americans Started Getting Bigger

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began collecting data on the health of Americans in the early 1960s in a survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  Each of the 5,000 survey participants go through an interview and a myriad of laboratory tests.  In the end, the results help determine the prevalence of disease in the U.S., including obesity.  NHANES determines the need for nationally funded programs and the need for additional research.

In 1960, when the NHANES surveys began about 24.3 percent of Americans adults were classified as overweight (having a body mass index (BMI) over 27).   Ten years later in the percentage went up to 25.4 percent.  And, by the eighties, American adults had dramatically expanded their waistlines with 33.3 percent listed as overweight.  U.S. adults had together gained a billion pounds in just ten years… Disgusting.

But, we haven’t stopped ballooning.  Now, women weigh an average of nineteen pounds more than they did in the seventies while men tip the scales with seventeen more pounds.  American children are also on the heavier side these days.  Compared to the 1970s, children between ages six and nine are double as likely to be overweight.  Overweight adolescents from ages twelve to nineteen are three times more prevalent.

Weighing In on How to Weigh Less

There is an answer as simple as a beginner math problem to the continued weight gain—we eat more calorie than we burn.   With ample marketing and reminders everywhere about how you “deserve” the next fast food item, the solution is difficult.  (Advertisements on the side of milk cartons tell us about “Milk’s Favorite Cookie.” Yes, this was really seen in NYC—check it out at:   Frankly, our culture has become one where food is entertainment and overeating is acceptable.  It doesn’t help that portion sizes have gotten larger at fast food joints either…

I have some homework for you: track the calories that you take in.  Write down everything! Apps that can help you in this endeavor include Calorie Tracker or Lose It!.  If you don’t have the capability to use these apps or prefer a website, there are a plethora of options on the web.  Track what you eat for a single day, you may be surprised at the amount of calories you take in and how you are getting them.

I was AMAZED when I tracked my own calories at the amount of calories I engulfed while sitting at my desk.  A handful of this and that really adds up.

Change is easier to make when you know the root of the problem.  Slowly cut out those daily sodas and stopping past that drive thru window.  Find a way that works for you to cut out calories.  Get that sexy body you’ve been wanting for years by cutting down your intake.  It will take discipline, but in the end, feeling good about yourself and getting the attention you’ve been wanting will all be worth it.

Serve Up a Steamy Breakfast in Bed

breakfast in bed menu

Keep it clean!

Planning a little bit of time with your significant other this weekend? Surprise your special someone with a steamy breakfast in bed.  No clothes needed!

Breakfast in bed can mean the world to the one you’re pampering, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.  Here are a few tips to make it the best they’ve ever had!

Plan ahead.  Figure out what you’re going to make and gather all the ingredients and utensils you will need.  Do the preparation work ahead as well–chop the veggies for your omelet, prepare muffin batter ahead of time (put in refrigerator overnight with plastic wrap covering), and grind the coffee beans.  This makes breakfast in bed less of a hassle when you’re not quite awake.

Details, Details, Details

Make everything as special as possible.  Squeeze fresh orange juice for your mimosas and use your best china.  Go the extra mile by garnishing the plate.  And don’t forget to set your alarm!
Leave the bed.  Breakfast in bed just leaves crumbs. Maybe breakfast in bed is best out of bed.  Instead of serving breakfast in bed, set up a nice spot to have breakfast.  Have an outdoor breakfast or set the table with fresh cut flowers. If you don’t have a breakfast tray my vote is to leave the bed for other things. Coffee spills make for memorable breakfasts, but not in the way you may like!

Need some ideas for a breakfast in bed menu?  Here’s a quick and easy recipe for banana pancakes:

Pancakes in bed

Banana Pancakes

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, (4 Tbsp melted, 2 Tbsp unmelted)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small, very ripe banana, peeled
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Mix well.

Place the banana in a small bowl and mash until smooth.  In the same bowl, mix in the milk, eggs and vanilla and stir until blended. Mix the banana mixture and 4 Tbsp of melted butter with the flour.  Mix gently with a whisk until just blended. This batter may have a few lumps.

Heat a griddle or non-stick pan on medium high heat.  When the pan is hot, add the remaining butter and spread it so that it covers the entire surface.  Using a ¼ cup measuring cup add cupfuls onto the griddle or into the pan.  Allow enough room for them to spread. Cook for about 2 minutes, until many small bubbles pop on the top of the pancakes. Turn the pancakes over, and cook until the bottom is golden brown.  Transfer to a serving plate.  Serve warm with maple syrup, sliced bananas, and pecans.

Breakfast in bed should be about pampering the other, so remember to not plan a menu too exotic to pull off.   Take the time to pamper your guest and you will be rewarded!  If you’re not much into cooking, call in some take out from a local breakfast joint.

Why the Organic Food Business Will Continue to Thrive

Benefits of eating organic foodsThe organic foods market is a $29 billion dollar industry and still growing.  A study at Stanford published yesterday concluded that organic food is no more nutritious than conventional food.  I don’t foresee sales in the organic food market dropping anytime soon. Why?  Here are a few reasons why I think organic will continue to be successful:

People don’t buy organic food because it is “more nutritious.”

The purchasing power of organic food is not what is in the food, but what is not in organic food.   Although organic goods are more costly and have no benefit when it comes to vitamins and minerals, they contain less of the things I don’t want in my body, like:

  • Pesticides
  • Antibiotics
  • Growth hormones
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Genetically engineered ingredients

In the Stanford study, organic foods were found to contain less pesticides.  Children eating organic produce had less pesticide residue in urine tests. Organic produce is sometimes hit with a bit of pesticide from nearby conventional fields being sprayed, but organic growing practices do not allow chemical pesticide use.

Organic food tastes better

This is not based on science, but I think organic strawberries taste better than conventional strawberries.  I hate when strawberries taste like nothing. Reason enough for me to buy organic strawberries…
I also prefer organic chicken breasts from chickens that are not bred to have huge breasts.  I hate staring at those oversized chicken breast at the grocery store—all they do is make small-chested women feel insecure. (Fortunately, I don’t have this problem.  But, I’m advocating for all of my A cup friends.) I also like that the organic chicken usually doesn’t have the extra water. (Poultry cooled in chill tanks can retain 8 – 12% water.)  Chicken that doesn’t contain a statement about extra water is usually air chilled.

Consumers still perceive that organic is better for you

Maybe Stanford debunked any inkling that organic food is more nutritional as a whole, but who says those pesticides and antibiotics don’t catch up to you.

Organic farming is better for the earth and smaller farm operations

Oh, how we love to abuse mother nature.  Many consumers are now trying to have less environmental impact by using plastic bags and recycling more.  Buying organic also helps sustain smaller farm operations.  I endorse buying local for this reason.
Those are a few of the reasons I purchase organic produce and meat.  Organic foods may not be more nutritious, but will that affect your purchase of organic goods?

Sexy Late Summer Cocktails

I spent my summer mostly inland, mostly working.  The days of sulking in the summer sun are winding down and my dreams of a beach getaway to Hawaii, the Caribbean, or even Florida are unfulfilled.   I’ve been brainstorming ways to magically transport myself to an island far away—the closest I have come is sipping one of these tropical cocktails.

If you’re not quite ready to kiss those sunny days away, stir up a few of these late summer cocktails and relax!  After all, the season doesn’t officially end until September 21.
Summer cocktails

Sex in the Caribbean

Thinking of making your escape to the Caribbean before fall sets in?   Make this drink and it will take you on a wild night dancing until the sun comes up.  Don’t forget to wear your favorite espadrilles before it’s too late!

½ fl oz. Dark rum
½ fl oz. Melon liqueur
½ fl oz. Raspberry liqueur
3 oz. Pineapple Juice

Measure and mix all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake, then serve in a glass garnished with a slice of pineapple.


Orange Cosmopolitan

Orange Cosmopolitan

Put on that sexy red dress, and mix up one of these.  Add a touch of sunshine to the traditional cosmo by using orange vodka.
1.5 oz. Orange Vodka
½ oz. Pomegranate Juice
½ oz. Sour mix
3 slices of orange

Muddle the orange slices with the pomegranate juice and sour mix.  Add orange vodka, such as Kettle One Oranje, and shake.  Serve in a chilled martini glass with a twirl of orange peel.

Source: Ketel One
Cucumber Basil Chiller

Cucumber Basil Chiller

Pick up some local cucumbers, trim back your basil plant, grab some tequila and enjoy this refreshing summer sipper.  Best enjoyed on the back porch with some sultry summer blues playing in the background.
4 thick cut cucumber slices
2 large basil leaves
1 ½ oz. Silver Tequila
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. Simple syrup

Muddle the cucumber and basil leaves in a cocktail shaker.  Add ice, tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup to the shaker.  Shake until well mixed.  Serve in a short glass with a slice of cucumber.

What’s a late summer evening without a cocktail on the porch, anyway?  Drag out your beach chairs, put on a summer dress, and invite your friends over for your island escape.  Relish the rest of summer until it officially transitions into fall.  After all, I think this is the best time of summer—the days aren’t quite so hot and the evenings are filled with amber colored sunlight.

Source: Food & Wine

Should You Cut Gluten Out of Your Diet?

gluten free dietLady Gaga and Miley Cyrus have both publicized that they are on the gluten free diet, but should you cut out gluten too?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.  People with intolerances to gluten or celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, are advised to refrain from eating all foods with gluten in order to maintain their health.  About seven percent of Americans are thought to have celiac disease (1%) or gluten insensitivity (6%).   Symptoms of these conditions can range from irritable bowels and diarrhea to heartburn, but can be as serious as malnutrition. Some that adhere to the gluten free diet find that they just feel better, which may be the result of a mild gluten intolerance.

The gluten free diet is a medical diet that spurred from the necessity of some individuals to eliminate gluten.  Just as diabetics must control their sugar intake, gluten is the enemy for those with celiac disease.

Those without celiac disease and gluten intolerance may think twice before beginning a gluten free diet.  Although celebrities boast how gluten free diets have helped them lose weight, simply cutting out gluten is not the ticket.  The increasing popularity and attention on the gluten free diet have spurred the development of more gluten free products, including baked goods.   A market research firm, Packaged Facts, reported that the gluten free food market grew at a compounded rate of 30% per year from 2006 to 2010.

If you keep your diet constant except for cutting out gluten, your weight would likely not change.   Simply exchanging items with gluten for gluten free counterparts is not the answer to weight loss.  In a study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dr. Patrick Gaesser of Arizona State University said that there is no evidence that following a gluten free diet leads to weight loss.  He also stated that many are following the gluten free diet for “reasons that simply do not make sense.”

But, Dr. Gaesser is talking about simply eating a gluten free diet.  If you begin a gluten free diet while cutting out processed grain products, baked goods, and other sweets, it is likely that you will slash a few pounds.   Eating a gluten free diet with less processed foods and baked goods eliminates calories that can result in weight loss.  This is likely the treatment that works for Gaga and Cyrus.

Ultimately, a gluten free cookie is still a cookie.

Be in Your Moment with Barley

Barley for womens healthIndian legends are about mindfulness, living in the moment. A Papago legend tells the creation of butterflies as silent beings. Being silent brought out their beautiful wing color. The fluttering uniquely inspired the song in the birds. Similarly, food inspires life. Pause. Think. Are you mindful in your food choices, your nutrition, therefore, your whole life?

Eat power foods like barley to totally experience life. Yes, barley.  Allow me to introduce a barley component beta glucan.  Alongside you will be exposed to the Nordic diet. My hope is to inspire mindful food choice and hence optimal nutrition.  Discover beta glucan in barley to slow metabolic syndrome from entering your health state.


Talk about ancient whole grains, barley may top the list of cultivated grains. Archaeologists have found these grains in and around the Egyptian pyramids.

A 100 calorie serving half of a cup of cooked pearled barley provides:

  • 2 grams of protein
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • Beta glucan soluble fiber
  • 7 micrograms of selenium

What is Beta Glucan?

Glucans are glucose polymers found in the cell walls of barley. The beta describes the linkage. Beta glucan, as a soluble fiber, can perform as a hero for watching your waist, balancing insulin, and clearing blood fats. These acts link to improved blood pressure.

What is Selenium?

Selenium remains in my mind as a mighty mini-mineral. Selenium, as a trace mineral, can hook up with proteins and become selenoproteins. These take action as antioxidant enzymes preventing cellular damage from free radicals. Other selenoproteins help regulate your thyroid and adjust the immune system.

Nordic Diet

Nordic culture can be found in the countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. A Nordic diet is defined as inclusion of these specific foods:

  • berries
  • cabbage
  • fish and other seafood
  • wild and pasture-fed animals
  • rapeseed oil
  • barley, oat, and rye

These foods are native foods the Nordic region. Theoretically, a Nordic diet enhances health with an inverse relationship with abdominal obesity or a big belly. A big belly along with two more of the following health factors could trigger a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome:

  1. abdomen measure > 35 inches for women
  2. elevated blood pressure
  3. hyperglycemia
  4. high blood fats
  5. low levels of high-density blood lipoproteins

Along with natural food synergy, the ingestion of barley has shown health benefits in curbing metabolic syndrome and the cousin of obesity.

Be in your moment like a butterfly. Find pearled barley in the bagged bean aisle. Cook this low-cost power food. Surprise yourself and have family or friends singing as they experience a well being after eating a barley-based salad. You know, cooled barley topped with your choice of greens, nuts, and a splash of sunflower oil. Be well. Dr. Elliott, RD

Sweet & Savory Rocky Ford Cantaloupe Salsa

Poached Chicken Breast

Serving Suggestion

This summer has been one where I come across an abundance of summer fresh fruits at the local farmers market.  I bought too much and had to find ways to use it up, that is how this recipe came to me.

After eating several tender and delicious slices of the (Colorado favorite) Rocky Ford Cantaloupe I bought from a local farmer, I had a lot left over.  It is just too good to simply toss into the garbage, so I made a summer salsa out of it.

Salsas do not have to be savory and steaming hot, they do not have to be hot enough to scorch your chili-seared palate. They can be mildly hot; made with the pleasantly warm Anaheim chilis, fresh Vidalia onions, pungent but mild garlic cloves; even elephant garlic will do for this recipe, and some legendary Rocky Ford cantaloupe.

The process for making this tantalizing salsa is uncomplicated but the result of your efforts will be a complex, mouth-tingling, sweet/hot triumph.


2 cups diced Rocky Ford cantaloupe

2 cups fresh Roma tomatoes, diced

2 medium sized Vidalia onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 Anaheim chili peppers, diced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. hot sauce

1 tbsp. chili flavored olive oil

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice


Wash the melon with an apple cider vinegar and water solution (2 cups water to ½ cup vinegar) rinse and pat dry with a soft cloth.

  1. Slice the melon into wedges, cut off the rinds. then cut the wedges into a small dice, add to a medium sized bowl.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into a small dice; add to the bowl with the cantaloupe.
  3. Peel and dice the onion, mince the garlic, and add to the bowl.
  4. Cut the stem ends off the Anaheim’s peppers, cut each pepper in half-length wise, and then cut into strips.  Cut the strips into a small dice, add to the salsa bowl.
  5. Add salt, sugar, and hot sauce, olive oil, and lime juice.  Stir the ingredients well.
  6. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and stow in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

For my meal using this delicious Cantaloupe Salsa I offered it as a cool summer bonus slathered over a poached chicken breast. I served it with some Microwave-Roasted Red potatoes.

I know you have used a summer fruit in an unusual way – leave us a comment below and tell us just how you did it.  Did you make your own salsa, or a unique and adventurous fruit jam or preserve?  Please share the recipe here.

Nutritional Information:

Per ½ cup serving

Calories: 50

Carbohydrates: 21

Fats: 3g

Sugars: 13g

Salt/Sodium: 15mg

Fiber: 1g

Walnuts are the Alpha Way to Heart Happiness

Benefits of eating walnutsImagine you are in an orchard of walnut trees. August begins walnut harvest time. Birds are chirping. You feel the strength and endurance from the trees. No wonder, walnuts are a power food.  Life is good.  My heart is happy.   So, what mood is your heart in?

First, know your lipid levels. Remember, you gave blood at the lab. Did your medical professional state your cholesterol was high?  If blood fat is high then one is more prone to heart disease, a modern weakness among women.

If your lipid profile is undesirable then try a diet shift. Shift to consuming more omega 3 fatty acids like alpha linolenic acid.  Alpha linolenic acid or (ALA) is an unsaturated fat found mainly in fish.  However, walnuts are rich in ALA. A diet shift should be a no brainer. This nutritionist will show you the alpha way of walnuts, that is:

  • the evidence
  • the nutrient breakdown
  • the concept of satiety

The Evidence

Alpha-linolenic acid or (ALA) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid.  Essential meaning we must consume. Walnuts contain the most ALA over other nuts.  ALA is a smart choice of fat for your heart.  Walnuts also contain marvelous plant protein.

While this good mood continues, let me point out there is a scientific correlation between walnut consumption and lipid lowering.  Specific alpha style fat type drives this evidence.  Your proposed need for ALA is 2 grams daily. A one-ounce serving of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA!

The Nutrient Breakdown

One ounce or 14 walnuts halves contain 190 calories. More specifically:

  • Alpha Fat Type 2.5 grams   Total fat: 18 grams
  • Protein 4 grams
  • Fiber  2 grams
  • Magnesium 45 milligrams
  • Phosphorus  98 grams

For the calories, walnuts pack a nutrient punch.  Walnuts are nutrient dense.  Walnuts are a power food.  Yes, the fat grams are on the high side; but the protein and fiber are combined for a magical synergy. Along with trace minerals like:

  • Magnesium helps us to keep our nerves and heart rhyme
    steady and happy. Shoot for 320 mg daily.
  • Phosphorus provides us with good teeth and bones.
  • It couples with other minerals to keep our heart beat regular.

Walnuts are unique with protein and fiber. Protein and fiber can drive satiety.

The concept of satiety

Satiety is a fancy word for feeling satisfied.  Within the food world, satiety is felling full.  For example, a handful of walnuts will leave you feeling fuller than a handful of potato chips. Satiety is a co-factor in happy heart and optimal health.

You want to visit more orchards, right?  Begin slowly, once a week, to replace a partial amount of your animal protein with walnuts. If already vegan then continue on my friend. Walnuts can be incorporated into many dishes. Shift the alpha way! Be well. Dr. V. Elliott, RD.