Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Can’t face the day without your morning cuppa joe? I would never ask you to do that! (You don’t want to see me without mine, either). Did you know there’s a way to enjoy flavorful, latte-like coffee that’s actually good for you? It’s true. Here’s a decadent delight that will boost your morning protein intake, satisfy your sweet tooth, and make those expensive trips to Starbucks a thing of your past.


¼ Cup skim milk or light soy milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ Tablespoon sugar-free coffee syrup in your favorite flavor (I like caramel)
Mug of black coffee, brewed to your preferred strength

Whisk together the first four ingredients in a small bowl until well-blended, with a bit of froth on top. Add three to four tablespoons of this creamy protein blend to your mug of hot coffee. Stir well. Garnish with a spoonful of the blended froth and an extra dash of cinnamon, if desired.

This will make enough for 4-5 mugs of coffee, depending on cup size and the amount of creamy protein blend you use. Store extra in a small container and refrigerate. This will keep for up to one week, but you may want to take it along to work for your morning coffee break, or to share with your co-workers.

Why protein powder?

Protein is the major building block of muscles, blood, skin, internal organs (think brain and heart), and even hair and nails. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 56 grams a day for men and 46 grams a day for women, though the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that increasing protein intake above this amount leads to increased weight loss, a lower amount of stored fat and prolonged feelings of fullness. Aim for at least fifteen grams of protein with each meal, with an additional few grams of lean protein thrown in at snack times, when possible. Don't give up carbs, however; our bodies need those, too!

Protein powder can help you achieve higher protein intake, without ingesting unnecessary fat and calories. Now, rest assured, there are some yucky-tasting protein powders out there. I know, because I’ve tried ‘em! My favorite is EAS 100% Whey Protein Powder in vanilla flavor. Another good brand is Designer Whey. Soy protein is also fine, if you prefer. Make sure you choose a protein powder with at least 18 grams of protein per scoop (four tablespoons), and less than 4 grams of sugar. You’ll find that quite a few of my recipes contain protein powder, as it’s a great sweetener, thickener, and protein additive that can help push you into fat-burning mode while adding flavor to your food and drinks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Italian Meatballs and Pasta

Nothing says, "Dinner's ready!" like the aroma of Italian cooking. This slimmed-down version of one of my family’s favorite meals will be one you’ll turn to again and again and is perfect for guests or Sunday dinner. On a lazy day, start this cooking over low heat, check it every thirty minutes or so, and then settle down to a dinner that’ll keep your family talking for weeks to come!


1 one-pound package of mild Italian turkey sausage links (about five links)
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 10.75 oz. can of tomato puree (can substitute tomato sauce), salt free
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
1 bell pepper (any color), sliced into strips
1 14.5 oz. can diced Italian-style seasoned tomatoes, salt free
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon dried basil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
Multigrain pasta (like Barilla Plus), one serving per person, any style or shape you like
1 15 oz. can organic chicken broth

Remove casings from sausage links. Cut each link into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small meatball. One serving of meat/protein is approximately six meatballs. Over medium-low heat, cook meatballs in olive oil approximately 25-30 minutes, until browned. It’s important to cook over low heat, as olive oil isn’t intended to high-heat frying. Plus, slow cooking the meat will render out more fat. If the meat begins to dry out, pour up to half of the can of tomato puree over the meatballs to keep them juicy.

When meatballs have lightly browned, drain excess oil and broth from the pan, leaving a small amount to prevent burning. Add onions and peppers to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook until onions are soft and turning clear.

Add remaining tomato puree, diced tomatoes, garlic and seasonings. Simmer over low heat thirty minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer this cooks (up to two hours) the better it will taste.

During last fifteen minutes of cooking, in a separate pot, boil multigrain pasta in one can of organic chicken broth (for added protein and flavor) and water to cover. Cook until al dente, and drain. In the photo above, I've used angel hair pasta, but I often make this with farfelle (bowtie) pasta, as well.

Place the pasta on a large, deep platter or bowl, then pour the Italian sausage, vegetables and sauce into the center. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.

Serve with a green salad and organic dressing. Bread is not required with this meal, as the pasta serves as your fast-burning carbohydrate for the meal.

This recipe serves 4-5 people. (One fist-sized portion of pasta, one fist-sized portion of veggies and sauce, and six meatballs), plus unlimited garden salad. If you're cooking for two or three people, rest assured that this recipe refrigerates well and will reheat as a tasty lunch, tomorrow.


Pasta isn't the evil we've all been taught to fear, however, white pasta isn't very good for you. It's much higher in "bad carbs" than multigrain pasta, which is naturally higher in fiber and rich in protein. Plus, brands such as our personal favorite, Barilla PLUS, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which make it a heart-healthy meal.