Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Becca's Black Bean Burgers

While I complete my food service rotation at NC State Dining, I am happy to be able to live with my brother and sister-in-law in Raleigh. Luckily, they are both enjoy cooking, so we tend to have many kitchen experiments. My sister-in-law, Becca, had the wonderful idea of trying to create our own black bean burgers. Not following a recipe, we winged it and came up with a BOMB recipe ourselves! Below is the recipe! If you make them, comment and let me know what you think! With the SuperBowl happening this coming Sunday, this would be a great feature on your food spread if you have any vegetarians to cook for!


1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup onion
2 handfuls of chopped kale (about 2 loose cups)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 (15.25-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten


Place onion, and kale in a food processor and grind; add beans and pulse unlit slightly blended

In a bowl mix together breadcrumbs, eggs, oil, and spices (salt, basil, oregano, chili powder)

Add in black bean mixture and stir until completely combined. Use your hands to press mixture into patties (~1/4 cup for each).

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat and place patties in pan.
Sear 4 minutes on both sides, or until each side is charred.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees, on each side until cooked thoroughly!

[Excuse the photo quality...I only had my outdated iPhone 4s]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Years Resolution Challenge: The News About Dark Chocolate

I have great news for anyone with an everyday sweets craving!

Dark chocolate has been a hot topic in the nutrition world lately. It is packed with powerful antioxidants called flavanols that aid in lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease, while also improving brain function! 

So go ahead...treat yourself to a little bit of dark chocolate!

As a nutritionist with a sweet tooth, I highly recommend these dark chocolate Bark Thins! Not only are they a healthy way to satisfy your cravings, but they are 100% organic and fair trade. The combination of chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and hint of sea salt make for a perfectly delicious treat!

Go to http://barkthins.com/where-to-buy/ to find out where to get some!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Years Resolution Challenge: What's the Deal with Gluten?

This is something I get asked all the time. And while everyone is looking for the magical diet…going gluten free is not it. There is certainly no reason to be gluten free UNLESS you are gluten intolerant, gluten resistant, or have Celiac Disease. Then people tell me,  "Well why are we losing weight on the gluten free diet?" The answer is simple. When a person decides to go gluten free, they are cutting out calorie dense foods, leading to a lower caloric consumption throughout their day. And in terms of calories, the golden rule of weight loss is to "put in less than we put out," meaning to burn more calories than you eat. 

So, the bottom line here is that unless you're gluten intolerant or gluten resistant, it is OK to have gluten in your diet. Just enjoy these foods in moderation (like I keep saying...Balance is KEY)!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Olive Garden

This past week, I had lunch at Olive Garden. Still on my mission to eat healthy, I searched the menu for lighter options. The Olive Garden menu had a small "Lighter Fare" section containing about 6 different options (3 with pasta and 3 without). In the case of Olive Garden, I've noticed that their "lighter" menu just consists of smaller portions sizes and not necessarily a difference in preparation methods. I ordered the Chicken Abruzzi (pictured below). It was one of the pasta-less options and was very good. The other healthier options consisted of a lasagna dish and a pasta primavera as well as a couple other entree dishes of a protein with veggies. 

If you look at the "light" menu, it is obvious that these dishes all have something in common. All of them are made with wine based sauces or red tomato sauce. In general, dishes made with these sauces are going to be lower calorie than those made with the creamier white sauces. They are also served with greater amounts of vegetables, which add volume to your dish while keeping the calorie count down (two of the options were vegetarian). These are facts you can keep in mind when ordering at other Italian restaurants.

And lastly, at restaurants such as Olive Garden, it is extremely important to monitor the "all you can eat" bread sticks and salad, because this alone can make your break your diet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Years Resolution Challenge: Balance is Key

There are several small things we can do that will improve our health. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, my philosophy revolves around balance. Balance is the KEY! As soon as you can balance your diet and exercise with your daily routines then you're on the right track.

While small splurges are okay every now and then, making simple changes can add up dramatically. Try doing things such as taking an apple on the road with you instead of grabbing a bag of chips, or swapping out the regular lettuce in your salad for spinach (which is much more nutrient dense than iceberg lettuce). If you spent the entire year doing JUST this, you would see and feel results by the end of the year! Finding that healthy balance doesn't mean you have to give up everything you love to eat, it just means that you need to enjoy indulgences in moderation. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Cheesecake Factory

Everyone who has been to The Cheesecake Factory knows how extensive their "book-like" menu is. They can serve you anything from entree salads to Mexican to Italian. I recently read an article that rated The Cheesecake Factory as one of the highest calorie restaurants around. But, after my visit, I couldn't help to notice the "Skinny" menu they had wedged into the regular menu. Don't let the word "skinny" scare you off! After looking through the healthy options, I noticed a huge variety of dishes that sounded just as indulgent as the ones listed in the regular menu. They had cocktails listed that were 150 calories and under, small plates and appetizers that were all under 490 calories, and entree salads and specialties that were all under 590 calories. They even had special symbols that showed which items were made with butter and/or cream...an important part of distinguishing whether or not a restaurant meal will be lower calorie.

I ordered the "seared Tuna Tatiki Salad" and it was amazing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Restaurant Reviews

Today's statistics show that 68% of Americans eat out at least once (maybe more) per week. I know that most of us go out to eat to simply enjoy an indulgent meal, but sometimes we just find ourselves eating out because of time constraints, work meets, etc. Eating out often can certainty catch up to you if you're not careful! There is a lot to consider when trying not to "break your diet" at a restaurant. Preparation, portion sizes, and quality are all things you should keep in mind if you want to try ordering a healthy meal out. This section will have my reviews and opinions of the healthy options offered at familiar restaurants.

New Years Resolution Challenge: The Most Important Step

So…now that you are here, I am excited to make this the year of change! I promise that living healthily is not as hard or expense as it seems. Start by pin pointing what your obstacles are when it comes to being healthy. Is it a time constraint? Is it availability of healthy products? Realizing this is the first step to making a change. By realizing these obstacles, you can then figure out how to work around them!