Strawberry Spinach Salad

It has been awhile since I have posted.  I have pretty much been on vacation for the past two weeks.  Try not to be jealous.  That includes a lot of road trip time with a toddler and an infant, if that makes you feel any better about it!  For part of my “things-to-do bag” as we called them in road trips of youth, I picked up a book at the library, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.

This was a terrible and fabulous decision at the same time.  On the one hand, it made me very conscious of what I was eating in a time when I had to eat out a lot more than usual.  On the other hand, it made me very conscious of what I was eating.  It is hard to eat healthy while on vacation!!!!   Do you have any tricks for doing so?

It did give me a good idea though to highlight the foods in the book in the recipes that I choose to share so that we can talk about what the foods we eat are doing for us instead of just the number nutritional value.  Though I am still in vacation, I thought I’d share something I made just before I left that features three foods from the book that are all “superstars”, which means they are the best of the best.

I am sure we have all heard spinach is good for us, but why?  The calcium content in spinach and the other dark leafy greens strengthens bones.  The flavonoids in spinach help protect against age related memory loss.

The A and C vitamins in spinach plus the fiber, folic acid, magnesium and other nutrients help control cancer, especially colon, lung and breast cancers. Folate also lowers the blood levels of something called homocysteine, a protein that damages arteries. So spinach also helps protect against heart disease.

The lutein in spinach makes it one of the best foods in the world to prevent cataracts, as well as age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the elderly. Foods rich in lutein are also thought to help prevent cancer.

Strawberries contain a range of nutrients, with vitamin C heading the group. They also contain significant levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants, which fight free radicals. These antioxidant properties are believed to be linked to what makes the strawberry bright red. Free radicals are elements that can damage cells, and they are thought to contribute to the formation of many kinds of cancer.

In addition to vitamin C, strawberries also provide an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

More on those to come!  I feel like you may be falling asleep at your computer reading all this info so far!  Let’s just get on to the yummy salad recipe.  I only put half the dressing on to lower the calories and fat even more.  If you are feeling hungry, you can easily make this into a meal salad by adding some smoked salmon and avocado…two more of the star performers in the book!

Strawberry Spinach Salad


2 TBSP sesame seeds
1 TBSP Poppy seeds
1/2 C sugar substitute
1/4 C Olive oil
1/4 C water
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tsp Worcesestershire Sauce
1 TBSP minced onion
10 oz fresh spinach
1 quart strawberries, sliced
1/4 C almonds blanched and slivered


In a medium glass or plastic bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, water, vinegar, paprika, Worcesesershire sauce and onion.Cover and chill for 1 hour

in a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds.

pour dressing over salad and toss

refigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving

NUTRITION: 117 Cal / 10 g fat / 7 g Carbs / 3 g Fiber / 3 g Protein

Chicken Enchiladas

I am a huge fan of Mexican food.  Well I should probably say Tex-Mex since I have never been to Mexico and doubt the accuracy of our replications, but I love them anyway.  Growing up in Texas, we of course ate it a lot and just the smell of it feels like home.  When my dad makes chicken enchiladas, he usually makes them with a cream sauce that is delicious, but for times when you want less calories it is nice to have a delicious AND healthy option, which is definitely this one from Eating for Life.

Though my dad himself would probably lot like these because they feature cilantro, but I myself could eat them once a week and be happy.  Sometimes I can’t believe that my dad doesn’t like cilantro, but when he described the experience on his mission that made him hate it, I can’t fault him for it since I had my own that bred a strong hatred of mushrooms.

But if you love a good salsa verde and love cilantro like I do (and all you other Cafe Rio lovers out there), you’ll love these!!  Feel free to leave out the cheese for less calories or lactose intolerance like I did for Aaron’s half.  He says it tastes just as good, but I like those calories myself!

Mom’s Chicken Enchiladas


4 portions chicken breast (about 1 lb)
4 green onions, sliced
2T fresh cilantro chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
3 cans (10 oz. each) green enchilada sauce
8 corn tortillas
1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tomato, diced
1 can (2 oz) ripe olives, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Shred chicken by pulling apart with 2 forks; set aside.

3. Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add green onion, cilantro and jalapeno; sauté for 2 minutes. Add shredded chicken and 1 can of enchilada sauce. Cook stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Pour the 2 remaining cans of enchilada sauce in a medium bowl and microwave until warm, about 2 minutes. Dip each tortilla in the heated sauce and fill with about 1/8 of the chicken mixture. Roll up and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish.

5. Pour remaining heated sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until enchiladas are heated through and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

6. Divide lettuce onto four plates and place a portion of enchiladas on top. Top with a spoonful of salsa, a dollop of sour cream, tomatoes and olives. Serve and enjoy.

NUTRITION: Calories 434 / Fat 13 g / Carbs 40 / Protein 39 g / Fiber 6 g

Happy Easter!!

Anyone overflowing with hard-boiled eggs today and need to put them to good use?  Personally I could just sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper and eat them like candy.  I am so glad we discovered Aaron doesn’t react to the cage-free eggs because life without eggs was so sad.  If you need a little more inspiration than salt and pepper, I saw this and thought I’d share:

8 Recipes for Hard-Boiled Eggs











It is of course too late for an official Easter Brunch, but the Smoked Salmon Fritattas that came up at the end of that list looked divine!  I have just the right amount of leftover smoked salmon to have those in the am with some leftover asparagus…yum!

I was also trying to find out how the tradition of Ham on Easter got started.  Pretty darn sure Jesus didn’t serve up any ham at the last supper, but my online searches have produced too many different answers.  Any of you know the real story?  I myself don’t feel too passionately about ham, so I’d love a good excuse to change the tradition. 🙂

Protein Power

Ever since my dad became Vegan, Aaron and I have been paying a lot of attention to the amount of protein that is in everything we eat.  We all know that protein is important, but just how much do we need?  Here is a chart I stole from the CDC that gives a good guide.

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein
Grams of protein
needed each day
Children ages 1 – 3 13
Children ages 4 – 8 19
Children ages 9 – 13 34
Girls ages 14 – 18 46
Boys ages 14 – 18 52
Women ages 19 – 70+ 46
Men ages 19 – 70+ 56

This means that I could almost meet my daily requirements with a 6 oz steak!  I was excited to see in my inbox this morning that someone over at Spark People had nicely charted out different vegetarian sources of protein and how they stack up to each other and to meat.

Nuts, 1/4 cup Protein Calories Fat
Peanuts, raw 9 g 207 18 g
Almonds, dry roasted 8 g 206 18 g
Pistachios 6 g 171 14 g
Hazelnuts 5 g 212 21 g
Pine nuts 5 g 229 23 g
Cashews, raw 5 g 197 16 g
Walnuts 4 g 164 16 g
Seeds (1/4 cup) Protein Calories Fat
Hemp seeds 15 g 232 18 g
Pumpkin seeds, roasted 9 g 187 16 g
Flaxseed 8 g 191 13 g
Sunflower seeds, roasted 8 g 205 18 g
Sesame seeds, roasted 6 g 206 18 g
Legumes, 1 cup cooked Protein Calories Fiber
Soybeans 29 g 298 10 g
Lentils 18 g 230 16 g
Split peas 16 g 231 16 g
Navy beans 16 g 258 12 g
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) 15 g 269 12 g
Black beans 15 g 227 15 g
Kidney beans 15 g 225 11 g
Lima beans 15 g 216 13 g
Pinto beans 14 g 234 15 g
Soy Foods Protein Calories Fat
Soybeans, 1 cup cooked 29 g 298 10 g
Tempeh, 4 oz cooked 21 g 223 13 g
Edamame, 1 cup shelled 20 g 240 10 g
TVP, 1/4 cup dry 12 g 80 0 g
Soy nuts, 1/4 cup roasted 11 g 200 1 g
Tofu, 4 oz raw 9 g 86 5 g
Soy nut butter, 2 tablespoons 7 g 170 11 g
Soymilk, 1 cup sweetened 7 g 100 0.5 g
Soymilk, 1 cup unsweetened 7 g 80 0.5 g
Grains Protein Calories Fiber
Amaranth, 1 cup cooked 9 g 238 9 g
Quinoa, 1 cup cooked 9 g 254 4 g
Whole wheat pasta, 1 cup cooked 8 g 174 6 g
Barley, 1 cup cooked 7 g 270 14 g
Spelt, 4 oz cooked 6 g 144 4 g
Oats, 1 cup cooked 6 g 147 4 g
Bulgur, 1 cup cooked 6 g 151 8 g
Buckwheat, 1 cup cooked 6 g 155 5 g
Brown rice, 1 cup cooked 5 g 216 4 g
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 4 g 128 3 g
Sprouted grain bread, 1 slice 4 g 80 3 g
Dairy Protein Calories Fat
Fat-free cottage cheese, 1 cup 31 g 160 1 g
2% cottage cheese, 1 cup 30 g 203 4 g
1% cottage cheese, 1 cup 28 g 163 2 g
Fat-free plain yogurt, 1 cup 14 g 137 0 g
Low-fat plain yogurt, 1 cup 13 g 155 4 g
Parmesan cheese, 1 oz grated 12 g 129 9 g
Whole milk yogurt, 1 cup 9 g 150 8 g
Goat’s milk, 1 cup 9 g 168 10 g
1% milk, 1 cup 8 g 102 2 g
Swiss cheese, 1 oz 8 g 106 8 g
2% milk, 1 cup 8 g 121 7 g
3.25% (whole) milk, 1 cup 8 g 146 8 g
Low-fat cheddar/Colby cheese, 1 oz 7 g 49 2 g
Part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1 oz 7 g 72 5 g
Provolone cheese, 1 oz 7 g 100 8 g
Cheddar cheese, 1 oz 7 g 114 9 g
Blue cheese, 1 oz 6 g 100 8 g
American cheese, 1 oz 6 g 106 9 g
Goat cheese, 1 oz 5 g 76 6 g
Feta cheese, 1 oz 4 g 75 6 g
Part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 oz 3 g 39 2 g
Eggs Protein Calories Fat
Egg, 1 boiled 6 g 68 5 g
Egg white, 1 cooked 5 g 17 0 g
Liquid egg substitute, 1.5 fl oz 5 g 23 0 g

They didn’t include vegetables on their list, which I can understand because they don’t have a LOT of protein, but I was curious about the comparison.  In case you are curious too, I’ll share a chart I found for that here:

Vegetable (100 grams) Protein (g)
Asparagus 3
Aubergine 1
Beetroot 2
Broccoli 3
Brussel Sprouts 3
Cabbage 1
Carrot 0.5
Cauliflower 3
Celery 0.5
Cucumber 0.5
Fennel 1
Leek 1.6
Lettuce 0.7
Mushrooms 2
Okra 2.4
Onion 0.7
Spring Onion 2
Parsnip 1.5
Peppers 1
Pumpkin 0.5
Radish 0.7
Spinach 2
Swede 0.5
Sweet Corn 2.5
Tomatoes 2
Turnip 0.8
Yam 2

I think you have probably seen enough charts for the day, but if you want to see how all of this info adds together to getting the RDA of protein without eating meat, check out the Vegetarian Resource Group.  My dad says he feels so much better since changing his diet.  Anyone curious enough to give it a try?

Feeding my Soul

Last week Aaron found a great deal on Living Social that we couldn’t pass up.  So we decided to head to Mt. Hood for a little spring skiing.  I don’t know about you, but whenever going on a road trip, no matter how long, I always make sure to pack plenty of snacks.  I do not like to find myself hungry somewhere where the only thing in sight is a McDonald’s or Taco Bell.  However I think my sweet tooth was calling too strongly when I was shopping for snacks because all the things I bought just didn’t seem so satisfy.

So when you spend all day munching on things like this (though they are so delicious that I seriously inhaled them)…

all it let me craving was something that could satisfy true, real hunger, and not keep me looking for more to snack on.

CHILI.  Yum.  Soul filling, for sure.  Probably all that fiber that does the trick!!  Though technically the recipe below is NOT chili, so please do like Paula and call it Taco Soup around true Southerners like my father that have strict requirements on what constitutes real chili.  For me, it is simply taste and this one tastes GOOD!

And with chili, even the leftovers are good.  What I did with my leftovers this time was even better.  As it sat in the fridge, the beans slowly soak up the soup part, leaving it very thick and the PERFECT topping for nachos.  I like to make my own chips by cutting up my favorite tortillas and just dry roasting them in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until you feel good about their crispness level.  So easy and so much healthier!

Then I add just a bit of cheese underneath (to keep the chips from getting too soggy from the juices) and on top of the chili.  And of course a little avocado is always welcome on my plate.  What is your favorite chili recipe?

Paula Deen’s Taco Soup


  • 2 pounds ground beef (we always use turkey for a healthier option)
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
  • 2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional
  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
  • Corn chips, for serving (I always go with cornbread instead)
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grated cheese, for garnish
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish
  • Pickled jalapenos, for garnish


Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.

NUTRITION: Calories 388 / Fat 14 g / Carbs 42 g / Protein 26 g / Fiber 11 g