All posts filed under “Recipes

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Healthy substitutions to add to your Thanksgiving meal

It is not difficult to make a tasty Thanksgiving meal while having it semi-healthy. Thanksgiving meals are often high in fats, sodium and sugars.  A few substitutions here and there can help provide a healthier alternative to a Thanksgiving meal as well as give you and your guests all your favorite food items!

Let’s start with the biggest part of the meal, the turkey. Buying a turkey breast instead of the whole bird can help cut down on calories as the breast has more white meat. However, the turkey is the center piece to the whole meal. If you want the whole bird, try sticking to the white meat or if you want the dark meat, make it half the portion you normally would have. This way cuts down on some of the sodium and calories that come from the darker parts of the meat. Keep the seasoning simple with salt and pepper and use olive oil or spray oil instead of butter.

Everyone loves stuffing! Try stuffing the bird with:

  • onions
  • lemon or apples
  • thyme, rosemary, sage and other fresh herbs

Then bake the rest of the stuffing (i.e. the bread pieces, sausage and celery) in the oven. This way the stuffing doesn’t absorb the extra fats from the turkey and you can make a slightly smaller serving.

Gravy is a must a have! But instead of using the turkey drippings, use vegetable oil. This will cut down on the saturated fats and make the gravy cholesterol free. You can also look for low-fat broth based gravy or even vegetarian gravy. All these taste great and are slightly healthier options to the original gravy.

Don’t forget the mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter or cream to add to make a creamy texture to the potatoes, save the boiled water from boiling the potatoes or add chicken brother or fat-free sour cream. These substitutions can help cut down on fats and calories and still make the mashed potatoes taste great.

Now time for arguably the best part of the whole day, dessert. Pies are a huge part of the Thanksgiving. Most of the fat and sugar in pie come from the crust. Try a reduced fat graham cracker crust or go crust free. These are delicious alternatives to our traditional and loved pies.

These are just some of the substitutions that you can use in your Thanksgiving Day meal preparation. Check here for full recipes and more ideas on how to put a creative and healthy spin on your Thanksgiving Day meal.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by David McSpadden

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Get cozy with butternut squash

One fall vegetable that people love to eat but hardly ever like to make on their own, because it can be difficult, is Butternut Squash. The skin on the butternut squash can be difficult to peel and the seeds and strings can be stubborn when you try to scoop them out. However, preparing butternut squash by yourself is rewarding in several ways. The meal becomes healthier, you enjoy it more since you put more hard work into making it and it saves you money!

Buying a butternut squash can save you a few dollars. A whole butternut squash can range from 23 cents to $1 per pound while the pre-cut butternut squash can be $3 to $5 per bag (usually 1 to 1.5 pounds in a bag). Sometimes the bags can add extra preservatives to make the squash last longer. Buying a whole, fresh butternut squash can eliminate some of those unwanted ingredients.

To help save you money and encourage you to make a homemade butternut squash meal, we have found a helpful trick! In two steps, the peel becomes easier to remove and the seeds and strong slip right out! All you have to do is stab the squash with a fork and then microwave it!  Click here for more instructions.

To get you into the kitchen and working with butternut squash, here are some delicious recipes for you to try out:

  1. Love chickpeas? Try out this Curry-Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas Recipe.
  2. Crispy Butternut Squash Spinach Salsa with Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette can be the perfect side dish or meal!
  3. Soup tastes even better when it is homemade and not out of a can! Try this Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup.
  4. Need something a little hardier? Try this Butternut Squash Risotto with Parmesan. It is super easy to make, delicious and quick!

Since the rain is here it is the perfect time to stay in your kitchen and try out some of the recipes!  Enjoy!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by bea & txema & alan

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Bring the “home” to home games with your homemade snacks!

Fall is upon us, which means we have officially entered into football and tailgating season! Tailgating is a great time to catch up with friends, eat snacks and have fun before and during the game. However, just because you are in the middle of a parking lot or near the football stadium with your friends does not mean your food choices have to become unhealthy! It just means you have to become a little bit more creative. Not only does healthier snacks at a tailgate fuel your energy more but it will also make your snacks more original and “gourmet”.

Everybody loves dip during any event. The traditional Five Layer Dip is delicious but can be unhealthy especially if you buy it from the store. But if you switch out the ground beef layer in the traditional Five Layer Dip with some whole kernel corn, the dip becomes low fat and low calorie! This dip is easier to make and is just as tasty the well-loved Five Layer Dip! Want to try it? Click here for the recipe. Sour cream and onion dip is also a crowd favorite. The crowd might love you more if you offer them a fresher and healthier version of it. Mix together a yellow onion, fresh garlic, reduced-fat sour cream, plain Greek yogurt (instead of mayonnaise) and seasoning and create your favorite dip within in your kitchen! See the full recipe here.

Eating out or picking up packaged food will increase your sodium intake by almost two thirds of what your sodium intake would be if you made your food at home. Home cooked meals on average have less calories than meals that are purchased outside of the home. When you eat at home, you are more likely to eat less than you would out. This is because restaurants tend to go over the recommended portion sizes. This may appear to be the better deal,  ”more for your money”, but it’s not! Home cooked snacks and meals give you more control over your food which can allow you to create healthier versions of your favorite foods.

Want healthier tailgate snack recipes? Click here.


caption-arrow  Feature photo by Shari’s Berries


bento lunch
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Lunch is served

There are two camps of thought; 1) a brown bag lunch from home is healthier than cafeteria food, 2) changes in cafeteria food make it healthier than what Mom’s packs from home.  There are many internet articles to support both claims but ultimately you’re going to do what’s best for you and your kids.

Today, we’ll focus on lunch from home.  How can we pack a lunch for ourselves and our kids that is nutritious, fun, and not boring? Let’s face it, what’s good for our kids is also good for us.   Let’s focus on moving away from a basic sandwich, chips, carrots, and cookie.  Let’s talk “bento-esque” lunches.

Small portions of a variety of interesting lunch items will keep your kids interested in lunch and avoid the “swap” of something they don’t like.  How about a small meat/cheese roll up, gold fish crackers, kiwi and berries, with a chocolate pudding?  There are so many options for lunches but they key is to keep the portions in check and make it fun, colorful, tasty, and healthy. has a large list of bento style lunch ideas.   There are also lots of idea on Pinterest if you search “bento lunches”.  Don’t get hung up on the fancy bento dishes/containers, you can just as easily use baggies or individual plastic/glass storage containers from home.

If your family chooses lunches from the school cafeteria, try supplementing with additional fruit or veggies.  It’s fun to see what school lunches look like in other countries.  America certainly has room for improvement in many of our schools.   And kudos to those schools that are serving nutritious and good food to our kids.

Start gearing up for school and get a plan of action.  Lunch can and should be fun.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Melissa

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5 tips to eat more fruits and veggies

Did you know that produce is good for you? WHAT. Stop. Cue the sarcasm. Everyone knows fruits and veggies are great…but why aren’t we eating them?

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention did a study and learned that less than 15% of adults in the U.S. eat their recommended servings of fruits. Less than 9% got their veggies!!! In fact, in Oregon they found adults ate a veggie less than 2 times per day (on average).

Let’s start with what’s recommended.

1) Fruits- if you engage in 30 minutes or less of moderate activity each day, plan on eating between 1.5-2 cups of fruit each day.

2) Veggies – if you engage in 30 minutes or less of moderate activity each day, plan on eating between 2-3 cups of vegetables each day.

Typically folks like fruits better than veggies. And some hate certain veggies with an all-consuming fire. However, there’s a lot of good recipes out there – why not give some of these tips a try?

Tip #1 – roast veggies on your grill

Veggies are surprisingly delicious when drizzled with a little olive oil and grilled. It’s minimal work, and tasty results! This is a great option for summer.

Tip #2 – smoothies

Green smoothies – so hot right now. Sounds funky…looks weird… but tasty! When you make a “green smoothie” the fruit dominates the taste, so you get the benefit of spinach or other nutrient dense veggies, with the taste of berries instead! Sample recipes found here.

Tip #3 – be sneaky

Chances are you have picky eaters in your home – maybe it’s you! Sneak in some grated zucchini and carrots into your turkey burgers or meatballs. Add chopped mushrooms, onions, squash and peppers to a pasta sauce or stew. Be creative!

Tip #4 – enjoy a salad

Not all salads are created equal – and they certainly don’t have to be boring! If you enjoy Mexican food – try combining spinach/lettuce + bell peppers + tomatoes + salsa & a protein of your choice. Maybe add in some avocado for some healthy fats too!

Tip # 5 – breakfast goodness

If you like savory foods in the morning – sneak some veggies into your egg or tofu scrambles! Peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions go great in scrambles.

If you prefer sweets in the morning – add some berries to nonfat plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Try an overnights oats recipe that has added benefits of yummy fruits found here.

There’s lots of fresh options right now with all the local farmer’s markets. If you can’t break away from the desk during the work week…guess what?! You’re not off the hook. Portland has wonderful organizations including A Couple of Fruits that deliver a wonderful selection of produce right to you!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Christer Barregren

football challege blog
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Tailgate Recipe Challenge

Football season has arrived, which means all those great tailgating foods are here too!

The only downside is that I have been trying to be more conscious of what I eat. At first I thought this would mean that I would not get to eat the chicken wings and potato skins, but I have came to realize that this could be a great challenge opportunity!

So the challenge is to create recipes that are healthier options of those tailgate favorites. I found some great ideas on Pinterest, that you can check out too, if you feel like you are up for the task.

Let me know what recipes worked for you so I can try them out  for the next game!

caption-arrow  Feature photo byMary Helen Leonard

Cake blog
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You CAN have your cake and feel healthy too!

If you want to test my self-restraint just put a piece of cake in front of me. I have a huge sweet tooth, and with President Obama’s birthday being yesterday, it got me thinking that there must be healthier options for cakes.

I found a good list of  healthy cake recipes and substitution tips at Greatist.  I will share one with you because I cannot resist a good German Chocolate cake. Coconut and chocolate are two of my favorites!

Here is the healthy substitute recipe for the frosting:


  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (may use lite coconut milk)
  • 1 cup soy-milk
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water until smooth
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


  1. In a medium saucepan, mix the soy-milk, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla together. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Cook for one minute after it boils. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans.
  2. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (mixture should still be warm) before spreading on cake.

I will be making the Healthier German Chocolate Cake for my family reunion over the weekend and will report back here with my taste test rating.

Try out one of these healthier cake recipes and let us know what you think!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Eunice


Photo by Gavin Tapp
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Coming to a Grocery Store near You

Help me give a big welcome to today’s guest blogger Dominique Lopez-Stickney, a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian. Dominique is a Health Coach here at Moda and specializes in weight and diabetes management, and health behavior change. Today she shares her thoughts on the new proposed nutrition label.

This morning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label to reflect the public health needs of the United States.  There will no doubt be many opinions about the proposed changes. As an informed consumer, here’s what you need to know:

  • Calories from Fat removed: Low fat and fat free used to be the craze. Now, we know that the type of fat we consume is more important to our health than the total fat.
  • Added Sugars inserted: The average American consumes around 300 calories per day of added sugars, which is triple the recommended amount.
  • Serving size changed: More realistic serving sizes for what Americans actually eat, displayed clearer, so it’s easy to know how many calories we’re eating. Read More
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Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes!

Thanksgiving is just one week away! Are you ready? What are you cooking up this year?

This week I had the opportunity to take a professional cooking class as part of our Meals that Heal program with Chef Kathryn of the Farmer’s Feast. We made a wonderful Wild Mushroom & Spinach Stuffing and it was really good! If you are still looking for the perfect stuffing recipe, look no further. Even the pickiest guests will give it a try. Really! Check out the recipe below.

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