I made the fatal mistake of food shopping while hungry yesterday. I know toast is like “a thing” these days, but I did not know that cookie butter cream cheese was! Leave it to Trader Joe’s to come up with such a bad ass spread.

You might be asking yourselves, is that even healthy? I’m not gonna lie, there’s nothing particularly healthy about it. The same can be said for most cream cheeses. It’s basically a fat. There’s nothing wrong with some fat in your diet, especially if you exercise and are consistently a healthy eater.

I put it on some Ezekiel bread and paired it with some berries, and I feel like I just had a pretty decadent breakfast. All told, it amounts to ~300 calories.

My only caution is, similar to anything speculoos cookie butter related, you may be tempted to have more than a serving. Stay strong!

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This is my set up for breakfast (when kids sleep late, so yeah, not that often.) You could always get the ingredients ready beforehand and have them available. Either way,  just chop it all up and heat up a pan and you are ready to go.

Here are my ingredients:

Garlic

Onions

Chives

Fresh thyme, basil

Peppers

Shiitake mushrooms

Asparagus

2 eggs

Cooking spray

Hot sauce (optional)

  
Just sauté the veggies, mushrooms last. From here you can set aside and make an omelette or frittata or a scramble.

I opted to just do a little “Egyptian egg” (or whatever you guys call it) action.

If you cook the egg just right, it’s soooo creamy, you won’t miss the butter and cream cheese.

  
 

Chock full of carotnoids

Chock full of carotenoids

With the weather in the Northeast finally getting warmer, it’s time to really start enjoying smoothies. Stone fruits such as nectarines, peaches and plums are coming into season and this smoothie recipe makes a great treat any time of day.

It’s packed with antioxidant vitamins A and C, several carotenoids, potassium, and a good amount of fiber (the real kind). Using frozen fruit eliminates the need for ice cubes and cuts down on dilution, but, it’s just as good with fresh fruit. The added bonus is because you are making it yourself, you know that it’s low in calories, as opposed to some of the smoothies that are commercially available which can contain upwards of 600 calories per smoothie.

Recipe courtesy of the “The Smoothies Deck” by Mary Corpening Barber, Sara Corpening & Lri Lyn Narlock

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups of orange juice

2 cups diced nectarines, frozen

1 cup diced fresh mango, frozen

Method:

Pour the orange juice into a blender. Add the nectarines and mango. Blend until smooth.

Serves 2

Nutrition information per serving:

185 calories

4 grams of fiber

700 mg potassium (15% of the daily value)

96 mg of vitamin C (>100% of the daily value)

1,333 IU Vitamin A (> 50% of the daily value)

I don’t know about you, but, I do struggle when it comes to picking a cereal. I know what I am looking for, at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, as little sugar as possible (<10 grams per serving), and as low calorie as possible (<200 calories per serving).

The truth is I don’t really have a favorite, and switch types and brands regularly. In the May 2009 Nutrition Action Healthletter, there is an article comparing the current line up of breakfast cereals and how they stack up against each other. They organized them into “Best Bites” and “Honorable Mentions.”

The criteria for the “Best Bites” was:

  • a cereal must be 100% whole grain (or at least the first two ingredients in the cereal are whole)
  • must have at least 3 grams of fiber per 100 calorie serving
  • must not contain any ingredients that are considered an isolated fiber (i.e. inulin)
  • must have no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per serving
  • must be free of aspartame

Since I thought this criteria was great and we know that reading each and every nutrition label when trying to pick a cereal can be a pain, I will share some of CSPI’s Best Bites recommendations with you:

Best Bites (according to the May 2009 Nutrition Action Healthletter

Kellogg’s All Bran, Original

Weetabix Organic Crispy Flakes

Post Original Shredded Wheat

General Mills Wheaties

Kashi Organic-Autumn Wheat or Cinnamon Harvest

Though this is not the complete list, I was surprised that only one Kashi cereal made the list of best bites. I was also surprised that General Mills Cheerios did not make a “Best bite” (though they were listed as an honorable mention on account of their containing an isolated fiber).

One limitation to this article was that they did not cover non big-brand cereals, and you can definitely find some cereals at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods that would fit my criteria, or that of the CSPI.

What’s your favorite “healthy” breakfast cereal?

A sunny frittata for a rainy morning.

A sunny frittata for a rainy morning.

Lately I have been making frittatas instead of the traditional french omelettes, mostly because I am pressed for time and/or too lazy to use more than one pan, so, the frittata solves the problem.

I can cook all of my vegetables and then pour the eggs over them, throw it in the oven, and serve it right onto a plate. I’ve had them at some restaurants where they actually serve the frittata right out of the pan, now that makes for very little dish washing!

The frittata I made this morning is very golden in color on account of it’s orange pepper, yellow squash, yellow onion and of course eggs. It’s also super diet friendly (less than 300 calories), but will keep you full on account of a good amount of protein (32g).

You can substitute your favorite vegetables for the ones I used, they pretty much always come out great. It’s a very good way to get a lot of servings of vegetables into one meal, and definitely low calorie as well. If you like a little more carbohydrate you can serve it on top of a whole wheat tortilla. For more protein, add more egg whites, they’ll  make it thicker and fluffier, and at less than 20 calories a pop, you can’t really go wrong:

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 yellow onion (diced)

1/2 orange pepper (diced)

1/2 yellow squash (diced)

1 whole egg

4 egg whites

1 oz reduced fat shredded cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees.
  2. While the over is heating up, spray an omelette size pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat that on medium high until hot enough that when you throw a piece of onion on the pan it sizzles.
  3. Start sauteing the onion, moving it around with a wooden spoon or spatula every so often to prevent burning.
  4. Add the yellow pepper to the onion, and keep sauteing
  5. Cook the onion and pepper for about 5 minutes, until they start to carmelize, and shrink to about a 1/2 of their original size.
  6. Add the yellow squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. While the vegetables are cooking, beat the egg and egg whites together until frothy.
  8. Once the vegetables are relatively done, pour the egg mixture over all of the vegetables, move the pan around to make sure all edges are covered.
  9. Bring the heat down to low, and allow the sides to set.
  10. Once the sides are set, take the pan and put it in the preheated over for 8 minutes (or until the top of the eggs are set). With 1-2 minutes of baking time left, cover the top of the frittata with the cheese and put back in the oven.
  11. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add salsa on top if you want it a little spicy.

Nutrition Data (in the entire recipe):

286 Calories

9 grams of fat

19 grams of carbohydrates

32 g protein

This dish also has more than a days worth of vitamin C, lots of carotenoids, choline and folate, to name a few.

Cooking tip:

If you are using a nonstick pan, like I have, it may have a plastic handle. Cover the handle in tinfoil before putting it in the oven, that will prvent it from melting during cooking.

Next Wednesday, April 8th, you can bring a friend with you to Denny’s and be the ultimate enabler by encouraging them to eat (for free) Denny’s new Grand Slamwich, when you purchase your own Original Grand Slam breakfast.

According to an article on AdAge.com, Denny’s is planning its second food giveaway this year, on account of how successful the first one was. I haven’t eaten in a Denny’s for several years, so I thought I would take a look at where they stood nutritionally with these breakfast options.

It’s probably a no-brainer that a breakfast that includes: two pancakes, two eggs, two sausage links and two pieces of bacon (a $5.99 value) is probably going to be on the higher side in terms of calories and fat.

And indeed it is. The original Grand Slam packs 770 calories, 44 g of fat (13 of which are saturated), 510 mg cholesterol, 2530 mg sodium, 56 g carbohydrates, and 34 g protein. On all accounts this is a decadent breakfast, ~ 2/3 the daily fat recommendation, almost twice as much of the daily recommended cholesterol intake and more than a days worth of sodium. At least the tap water is free, because you will need it after this breakfast.

The Grand Slamwich is a little harder to pin down in terms of nutrtion, presumably on account of its limited release so far. But, it consists of  one scrambled egg, sausage, crispy bacon, shaved ham (the holy trinity of pork products), mayonnaise and American cheese on potato bread grilled with a maple spice spread (a $4.99 value). According to thedailyplate.com, the sandwich contains 1320 calories, 89 g fat, 72 g carbohydrates. Unfortunately, the information is incomplete, but, I think its safe to say that it will be comparable to the Grand Slam, if not a bit worse on account of the addition of ham, mayonnaise, cheese and maple spice watchamacallit. As soon as I can get my hands on the actual numbers, I will update this post.

All that being said, in this economy, I can understand people taking advantage of promotions like this. A free breakfast is great! I just think it would be a worthwhile endeavor to offer a healthier option along with the less healthy one, for instance why not offer the Slim Slam breakfast for those who may be making an effort to lose or maintain their weight, or who have hypertension or high cholesterol?

Obviously, this is a “promotion” and the point is to promote the new sandwich, and increase Denny’s value in the “on the go” breakfast segment, but, when you opt for this free breakfast, what price do you ultimately pay with your health?

Sodium at bargain prices

Sodium & some joe at bargain prices

I was very intrigued to hear about Starbucks (re-?) introducing breakfast offerings this past Tuesday. The real excitement seems to be that the breakfasts, which include a 12 ounce coffee, are “reasonably priced” at $3.95.

An article in the New York Times did a nice job of covering the developments. Though I have not tried the breakfasts yet, I was curious to see how these breakfast “pairings” measured up to my usual Huevos Portobellos.

Getting to the actual data is a little difficult, you have to enter your zip code, but, once you get there it’s worth poking around.
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