Friday, April 30, 2010

Artichokes: Canned and Reloaded...

I know I stress the importance of fresh vegetables but we don't always have the time to prepare them. Nothing beats a fresh steamed, stuffed, or baked artichoke (see previous blogs for two great recipes) but if you want something quick, here's a great idea.

I picked up a few cans of artichokes hearts at the grocery store the other day. I am not talking about the ones in the cute little jars! Those are packed in oil and although they are so delicious, they are loaded with fat and calories. Reserve those for special occassions when you are serving an antipasto salad or cheese and crackers and other hors d'oeuvres for guests. I am talking about plain artichoke hearts, packed in water!

So what can you do with a can of artichokes hearts? The easiest thing in the world is to get out the can opener, drain the artichokes and toss them into a fresh garden salad with balsamic vinegar and oil. You can also add them to pasta with garlic, olive oil and a little parmesan cheese. Add some sun-dried tomatoes, too, for a little color. Don't buy the sundried tomatoes packed in oil ( the cute little jars!) You can find
sun-dried tomatoes in the produce section of your local market. They are simply dried and packed in plastic containers. Do you want to make a really impressive meal? Add cooked shrimp with the pasta, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. If you don't like sun-dried tomatoes, you can always use tiny cherry tomatoes!

I just love plain artichoke hearts as they are, right out of the can! They are luscious, healthy, and only about 60 calories a serving! Be sure to keep several cans in your pantry all the time......

And this is my Daily Cyn........

Sunday, April 25, 2010

If the Shoe Fits.......

Not your "Sunday Best" kind of shoe but still guaranteed to make you feel sexy any day of the week........... ALWAYS fit........

And this is my Daily Cyn.......

Artichokes with Quinoa

Here is another delicious vegetarian recipe to celebrate the vegetable of the month...the Artichoke.. This dish is compliments of Chris DeBarr, chef at the fresh eclectic eatery, Green Goddess, in New Orleans (my favorite town!)

Celebrate New Orleans Jazz Fest (starts next week) with these artichokes stuffed with lots of goodies and quinoa. Quinoa is an amazing grain found in the rice aisle of your grocery store or at your local whole foods market. Quinoa is a complete protein so you will not need to serve meat with this meal! Just serve a nice vegetarian tomato soup or toss together a large garden salad and enjoy!

Artichokes with Quinoa (serves 2)

2 artichokes
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 parsnip, sliced
1/2 head fennel, cored and sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 lemon, sliced
3 sprigs thyme
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 oz dried shitake mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup red quinoa
1/8 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Heat over to 400 degrees. Cut off stems and top 1/2 inch of artichokes, then, with scissors, trim 1/2 inch off leaf tips. Separate leaves with thumbs, then pluck soft leaves to expose fuzzy choke. Scoop out choke with a spoon until you see the heart. (discard choke).

Place artichokes in a pot, cover with water and boil 30 minutes: strain. In a large pot, place garlic, parsnip, fennel, onion, lemon, thyme, wine, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and 1/2 cup water; add artichokes. Simmer covered, until bottoms are tender, about 20 minutes. remove artichokes, strain vegetables, discard lemon, reserve liquid.

Boil 3/4 of a cup of reserved liquid (add water if needed) and add mushrooms and quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa absorbs water; 20 minutes.

Mix pumpkin seeds, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and remaining 1/2 tsp of olive oil. Toast in a pan in oven until brown, 7 minutes. Mix seeds with quinoa.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of quinoa mixture into each artichoke. Place remaining quinoa mixture in a baking dish; top with the reserved, strained veggies. Nestle stuffed artichokes in quinoa. Roast, uncovered 10 minutes. Divide and serve.

The dish: 384 calories, 8.6grams of fat (1.3g unsaturated), 67 carbs, 24 g fiber, 16 grams protein!

And this is my Daily Cyn......

Baking for Good: A little sugar goes a long way. | About

Baking for Good: A little sugar goes a long way. | About

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fast food salads worse for you than KFC’s meaty Double Down | Grist

Fast food salads worse for you than KFC’s meaty Double Down | Grist

Eat Chocolate, Prevent Stroke!!

Do you love chocolate?'s a pretty good reason to indulge. Three studies that were reviewed for the American Academy of Neurology lead researchers to believe that eating chocolate may have a protective effect against strokes. One serving a week could be all it takes-but for all you chocolate lovers out there-maybe several servings can protect you even more!

I am not a big fan of chocolate myself, but if I must have it, it's Godiva all the way!

And this is my Daily Cyn.....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lane Bryant vs. FOX and ABC: Publicity Stunt?

Lane Bryant vs. FOX and ABC: Publicity Stunt?

Best and Worst Breakfast Cereals

Best & Worst Breakfast Cereals By David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding - Posted on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, 12:19 am PDT
Eat This, Not That
by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding a Yahoo! Health Expert for Nutrition

Let’s face it: We’re rushed. Especially in the morning. Often we're running out the door a few minutes behind schedule as we stuff our bags and pray that we haven’t left anything behind. (Did I pack my lunch? My gym clothes? Do I have that file I’m supposed to give to Roger? Wait! My pants!) Yeah, mornings are messy, which is why breakfast is so often placed on the back burner. The problem is we sometimes forget to ever turn that burner on.

We’ve all heard the studies that show breakfast consumption is related to weight loss. For those who haven’t, the results are pretty clear: Breakfast eaters carry less body fat than non-eaters. Yet surprisingly, nearly 40 percent of us still skip breakfast, according to a poll conducted by ABC News. For those who do eat breakfast, about a third choose cereal. That makes it America’s favorite breakfast food. But whether that’s a good thing or not pivots on the choices we make in the supermarket.

Every box of cereal lives in one of two worlds: the world of fiber or the world of sugar. The first world pairs perfectly with freshly sliced fruit, while the second is already pushing the sugar threshold through a combination of marshmallows, sticky oat clusters, and frosting. Obviously you want to choose a cereal from world No. 1, but with all the marketing hype on cereal boxes, that’s not always easy to do. Especially when you’re speed-walking through the grocery store in the usual hurry to get home. (Why is everything so rushed these days?)

But fear not; we’ve got you covered. Here are the grocery store’s worst cereals and their more nutritious counterparts. Get your bowls and spoons ready.

Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (1 cup)
190 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g fiber
19 g sugars

It'll be hard to find a more sugar-loaded cereal than Raisin Bran. It’s sweeter than even Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, or Cocoa Krispies. Some of that sugar can be attributed to the raisins’ natural blend of fructose and glucose, but the real culprit is the sticky white armor of sucrose that enrobes each piece of fruit. Both Kellogg’s and Post are guilty of this raisin mistreatment, so what should be a legitimately healthy bowl of fruit and grains pours out closer to a candy-coated dessert.

Eat This Instead!
Kellogg’s All-Bran (1 cup) with a tablespoon of raisins
150 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g fiber
13 g sugars

General Mills Chocolate Chex (1 cup)
174 calories
3.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
1 g fiber
11 g sugars

First, let’s get this out of the way: Chocolate-flavored cereals should rarely be part of your morning routine. That said, they can make decent desserts. One study published by the American College of Nutrition found that among late-night snackers, those who chose cereal took in fewer calories than those who made other choices, and ultimately they wound up losing nearly half a pound of body fat per week. That doesn’t mean you should switch to an all-cereal diet, just that cereal is a better evening snack than you might think. Of course, not all are created equal, and surprisingly, the worst of them is the one that seems geared toward mature eaters. So the rule is, if you’re going with chocolate cereal, let your inner kid free. Per bowl, Chocolate Chex packs in more calories than Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Krispies, or Cookie Crisp.

Eat This Instead!
Cookie Crisp (1 cup)
133 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
1.5 g fiber
15 g sugars

General Mills Chex Multi-Bran (1 cup)
210 calories
2 g fat (0 g saturated)
8 g fiber
13 g sugars

Chex might seem harmless, but it’s the only brand that holds down two spots on this list. The slip-up with this box is the heavy load of sugar. (Notice that it’s even sweeter than the chocolate-flavored Chex.) General Mills calls it a “hint of sweetness,” but really it’s on par with some of the most indulgent boxes on the shelf. In fact, one bowl of this cereal has more sugar than a scoop of Edy’s Slow Churned Fudge Tracks Ice Cream. We applaud the fiber, but the sugar won’t cut it.

Eat This Instead!
Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size (1 cup)
170 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
6 g fiber
0 g sugars

Kellogg’s Smart Start Original Antioxidants (1 cup)
190 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
3 g fiber
14 g sugars

Of all the cereals on this list, this is the best example of inflated marketing. This box is littered with words that attempt to make you think you’re getting a wholesome breakfast, but in reality you’re getting a run-of-the-mill bowl of highly sweetened cereal with a multivitamin tossed in on top. Don’t let the added vitamins persuade you into thinking that the sugar isn’t a problem. It most certainly is.

Eat This Instead!
Kashi Vive (1 cup)
135 calories
2 g fat (1 g saturated)
10 g fiber
8 g sugars

Bonus Tip: Save calories, time, and money by signing up for our FREE Eat This, Not That! newsletter. You'll get nutrition and weight-loss secrets delivered daily to your inbox!

Quaker Oatmeal Express Golden Brown Sugar (1 cup)
200 calories
2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
3 g fiber
18 g sugars

Sure it’s convenient to have your oatmeal pre-packaged with a serving bowl, but is it really worth the love handles? Because that’s the likely result of eating this much sugar every morning. Sure, there’s a small shot of fiber, but in terms of the sweet stuff, this bowl is worse than eating a Little Debbie Marshmallow Pie for breakfast. Instead, leave an old coffee cup at work, and every morning load it with a packet of Quaker’s High Fiber Cinnamon Swirl. With that swap you’ll earn more belly-filling fiber and eliminate the blood-sugar surge. You’ll never even miss the plastic serving bowl.

Eat This Instead!
Quaker High Fiber Cinnamon Swirl (1 packet)
160 calories
2 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
10 g fiber
7 g sugars

Bonus Tip: Eliminate even more superfluous calories by avoiding this crazy list of The Worst Drinks in America. Your waistline will thank you.

Quaker Natural Granola, Oats, Honey & Raisin (1 cup)
420 calories
12 g fat (7 g saturated)
6 g fiber
30 g sugars

You’re in big trouble if your mornings include a bowl of this stuff. One cup eats up 20 percent of your day’s energy needs and saddles you with as much sugar as a Snicker’s bar. That’s indulgent even by dessert standards. The culprit in this box is the combined impact of brown sugar and coconut oil, which together add loads of calories with scarcely any nutrients. What you want to do is switch to a lighter granola like Kashi’s GoLean Crunch!, and then instead of eating it by the bowl, use just a handful as a topping for unsweetened whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Now that’s a recipe for a good breakfast.

Eat This Instead!
Kashi GoLean Crunch! (1 cup)
200 calories
4.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
8 g fiber
12 g sugars

Bonus Tip: Follow me on Twitter. I'll let you know when I come across new gut-busting dishes, so you can run the other way, while giving you the very latest health, fitness, nutrition and weight-loss secrets that you can apply to your life instantly!

Have other best and worst cereal choices or nutrition tips? Please share them with the rest of us here.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Artichoke-Reloaded

Consider the artichoke.....a dieter's delight....low in calories, fun to snack on, easy to cook, time consuming to eat. I have a delicious recipe for stuffed artichokes (every good Italian girl does) and they are loaded with parmesean and romano pecorino cheeses, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. It is one of my most requested dishes (usually served as an appetizer but hearty enough to be a main course). I am not going to share that recipe today. I have a healthier version I want to share but before I do that, let's take a look at this magnificent green bud.

The artichoke is an excellent source of dietary magnesium, fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, chromium, potassium, biotin, maganese, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and a carbohydrate that is in the form of insulin. Whew!

As one of the most nutrient packed vegetables on the planet, artichokes are hugely beneficial to our health. Diabetics who include artichokes in their diet can reap rewards because they contain a carbohydrate-in the form of insulin-which is a starch that is handled by the body differently than other carbs and sugars.

Other benefits include the treatment of many liver diseases. Artichoke leaves contain caffeoylquinic acids. These acids help to promote the flow of bile and fat to and from the liver and can also aid in the treatment of hepatitis. Artichokes help relieve the symptoms of rheumatism, prevent atherosclerosis, alleviate various kidney ailments, and promote the growth of healthy bacteria within the digestive tract.

Artichokes are now currently in season through the month of May so take advantage of them! Steam them up and serve them with a low calorie, low fat dip, drizzle them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and double-wrap in foil and bake them at 425 degrees for about an hour, or if you are feeling adventurous, try this vegetarian stuffed artichoke recipe!

4 large globe artichokes
2 lemons, 1 cut in half, one juiced
2/3 cup bulgur
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
2 medium carrots, finely grated
2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2cup feta cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the artichoke stems and discard. Slice off the top inch of 1 artichoke. Using kitchen shears, cut off the sharp tip of each leaf. Separate leaves and pull out enough from the center to reveal the fuzzy choke. Scoop out the choke with a teaspoon and squeeze some juice from 1 lemon half into the cavity, then use the other lemon half to rub the artichoke all over to prevent discoloration. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Pour lemon juice into boiling water; add artichokes. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, place the bulgur and garlic in a heatproof bowl. Bring one cup of vegetable broth to a boil; pour over the bulgur. Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Mix in the next 6 ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain cooked artichokes on papertowels for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking dish. Spoon the bulgur stuffing into each artichoke cavity, then pull leaves apart and fill the spaces between them. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth into bottom of dish. Drizzle olive oil over artichokes. Bake for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
Serves 4 as a main course.

The artichoke might not look like much and it does take some time and effort to get to the gorgeous and beautiful heart...which is where all the richness and true flavor is. It reminds me of love and life...getting to the heart takes work but it is so worth the effort.

And this is my Daily Cyn..........

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shoe of the Day

Shoes ALWAYS fit....and I just LOVE these.. I hope you do too...

And this is my Daily Cyn.......

Friday, April 16, 2010

Students, show us your lunch

Students, show us your lunch

The Gift of Fear

We always hear the phrase "Trust your gut instinct". I agree with this statment whole-heartedly. If I had listened to what my heart and mind was telling me years ago, I would have done things so differently. I made such poor and painful choices and entered into an abusive marriage where I endured pain and suffering for almost 21 long years. As a survivor of this experience; domestic violence is a cause that is dear to my heart.

I have posted a link to a very important book: "The Gift of Fear" written by Gavin De Becker. Fear is a signal that something is wrong, dangerous, and possibly life-threatening. It is a gift from God to protect us from harm. Human beings are the only animals that ignore instincts and fears. We rationalize, analyze, and ignore the signs that there is danger ahead.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is involved in an abusive relationship, is not quite sure he or she is in an abusive relationship, or to anyone that knows someone in a similar situation.

Also, I cannot stress enough the importance of taking the "mosaic test". This is a series of 48 questions to determine whether or not someone has abusive tendencies. Please take some time to answer these questions. It could be a matter of life and death for you or someone you love.

And please don't have to beaten black and blue to be in an abusive relationship. Control, jealousy, humiliation, and verbal and emotional cruelty are all considered abuse. If you are involved in a situation like this, I urge you to leave as soon as possible.

For assistance contact: National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Take the Mosiac test at:
Click the link to the book above to order at
For more information regarding domestic violence:

And this is my Daily Cyn.....

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Pepper-Reloaded

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Consider the pepper.......humble yet glorious and bountiful, in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes ranging from mild and sweet to fiery hot and intense. Next to salt, the chile pepper is the most widely used spice in the world.

We are all familiar with the common green bell pepper. There are also red, yellow, orange and even purple varieties of this well-known gem. At parties and gatherings, almost every vegetable platter is graced with slices of bell pepper served with or without dip. Peppers provide a refreshing and satisfying crunch when eaten raw. Fry them up in a little olive oil and they add a sweet and colorful addition to soups, casseroles, sauce, and stir frys.

Here are a few other types of peppers you might want to try:

The Ancho/Poblano pepper is used in Mexican and Spanish foods and can be mild to fiery hot and can be used to season soups, beans, stews, and chili.

The Jalapeno pepper is also another Mexican favorite and usually very hot and used to spice up salsa, sauces and beans. They can also be cut in half, seeds scooped out, stuffed with cheddar cheese, and baked in the oven for a delicious, spicy treat.

Pepperocini peppers range from mild to hot and are a staple in any Italian household and add a sweet and spicy flavor when scattered on antipasto platters, layered on hero sandwiches, or tossed into salads.

Peppers can be eaten raw, though it is preferable to dice or chop the hotter varieties into smaller pieces and add them raw or cooked to dishes. Raw peppers are packed with vitamin C. Green peppers have more of this necessary vitamin then citrus fruit of equal weight. Red peppers have triple the amount. The hot varieties are even higher than that in vitamin C. Perhaps there's a correlation between that and the fact that chile peppers have been used for centuries a as "cure" for the common cold.

Although hot peppers may give some folks indigestion, there's no link between their consumption and stomach ulcers. It's also possible they act as an anti-coagulant or blood thinner, thus aiding in the fight against heart attacks or strokes.

The following recipe uses bell peppers. Bell peppers are large and sturdy and perfect for stuffing. I have had a few versions of stuffed peppers: the most common loaded with ground beef and rice topped with tomato sauce, and my mother's family recipe which are stuffed with bread, sliced olives, pignoli nuts, parmesan cheese, and finely chopped anchovies. Both of these recipes are a bit unhealthy and loaded with fat and calories. Here is my vegetarian version that is tasty, healthy, and lovely enough to serve to company.

3 large green bell peppers
3 large red bell peppers
2 1/2 cups of brown rice
2 packages of Morningstar Farms Crumbles** (find in your grocer's freezer)
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 medium-sized sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 14-5 oz can of diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 10-oz can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
4 oz low fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
4 oz low fat jalepeno or monterey jack cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
(you can substitute 4oz each of soy cheddar and soy jack cheese, if desired OR just substitute one of the cheeses with 4 oz. of the
soy cheese of your choice to make this dish a bit healthier)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium saucepan cook rice according to package directions. Cut the bell peppers in half, top to bottom, remove seeds and the ribs. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in medium skillet and add onion, garlic and crumbles, stirring often and adding the additional oil if needed until onions and garlic are soft and crumbles are browned. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine the crumbles, rice and tomato mixture, salt and pepper, and mix until well blended. in a 9x13x2 inch pan, place the bell peppers skin side down. Evenly divide the crumbles and tomato mixture among the pepper halves. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheeses on top. Return pan to oven, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let stand a few minutes and serve with a large green salad and bread.

Serves 6.

** Morningstar Farms Crumbles are a vegetarian beef alternative and can be used as a substitute in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef. One package is equivelent to one pound of ground beef.

And this is my Daily Cyn.........

Monday, April 5, 2010

Go Ahead....Make My Day!!

This morning as I sat frantically typing away on my blackberry during my daily train commute, the man sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I rolled my eyes, slightly bothered, turned around and looked at him. I was in a bit of a bad mood; too much unhealthy food over the weekend, not enough sleep, and a mad rush out of the house because we overslept this morning all contributed to a dreary attitude. As I turned around to meet his gaze, I was less than impressed and thought to myself that it was way too early and I was way too tired to deal with some Brett Micheals look-a-like hitting on me this morning! He smiled at me and said,
"Oh, my God! Your hair! I love it. It is so amazing, wild and crazy and sexy! It looks fantastic!" I was raised with some manners, so I smiled sweetly, thanked him for the compliment, and returned to my text messaging. Now personally, I thought I looked as if I had been attacked by wolves this morning. I had done absolutely nothing with the hair other than dampen it slightly, spray on some Beach Wave lotion to give it some "oomph" and made a mad dash out the door to catch my cab to the train. I also had no eye makeup on and no sunglasses to hide the fact I had no eyemake up on (I left them and my reading glasses at home in my haste to get out the door). I thought I looked pretty darn awful!

As I watched this obviously "blind-as-a-bat" guy get off the train at the next stop, I realized something. Since the moment he gave me that compliment I had been smiling, both inside and out. My whole demeanor had changed. As I stepped off the train a little later, there was a spring in my step and my burdens seemed a little lighter. As I looked up toward the brightly shining sun, squinting slightly without my sunglasses, I thanked God for such gorgeous weather! That guy had unknowingly made my day and its hectic and difficult beginning was long forgotten.

Here's my point in all this. A compliment is contagious. Regardless of who it comes from or who you give it to, it doesn't really matter. It can make you feel better about your day and you can single-handedly turn the events of someone else's other-wise dreary day into something wonderful just by offering a kind word or gesture!

Don't be stingy with your compliments. Sometimes we see something we like and refrain from saying something. We don't want the other person to think we are "hitting on them" or being disingenuine. We think what we say won't matter and that the person probably KNOWS their hair is gorgeous, or their eyes are the most beatiful any one has ever seen, the handbag they are carrying is simply "to-die-for", or they look sharp in their suit. Don't worry about what they think. Don't worry about what they say. It doesn't matter. Offer the compliment anyway. Not only will you make someone else possibly feel better, but in turn, you will feel better too. That's all part of the magic and beauty of the universe!

And this is my Daily Cyn.....