Recipe of the Month: Easy Mexican Veggie Frittata (August 2008)

26 08 2008

Frittatas are one of my favorite weeknight meals because they are so easy to make, they don’t produce many dishes, and they are a great way to use leftovers.  I made this frittata last night with some leftover beans and the vegetables that I had available.  I encourage you to use this recipe as a base, and experiment with different herbs or vegetables.


  • Egg, 8 large
  • Beans, 1 cup (kidney, black, or pinto all work well)
  • Onion, 1 cup, chopped
  • Garlic, 3 cloves, diced
  • Broccoli, fresh, 1 cup, chopped (bite-size)
  • Sweet Corn, Fresh, .5 cup (removed from cob, frozen works fine)
  • Cheddar Cheese, 3/4 cup, shredded
  • Cilantro, diced (to taste)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet and spray with Pam. Saute onions and garlic until they begin to carmelize. Add broccoli and corn.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, scramble eggs in a bowl.  Add eggs and cilantro to the veggies in the skillet, and remove from heat.  Spread the egg mixture throughout the vegetables in the skillet so that they are fully integrated.
  4. Bake skillet until egg is cooked through (10-15 minutes). 
  5. Sprinkle fritatta with cheese and set stand for 10 minutes.  Serve (with salsa!).

Nutritional Info (Amount Per Serving)
Number of Servings: 6

  • Calories: 253.6
  • Total Fat: 15.0 g
  • Cholesterol: 301.2 mg
  • Sodium: 467.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 14.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g
  • Protein: 15.9 g

Secrets to Exercise Success

19 08 2008

If someone had told me a year ago that today I would be jogging on my lunch breaks and forty pounds lighter, I never would have believed it. I’ve been overweight and sedentary since I was nine years-old, but back in February I had a sudden change of heart. It was a combination of events that led to the change – one of the biggest was that a student who I coached on nutrition & fitness successfully lost over 50 pounds. When I saw her, I suddenly realized that the nutrition health advice I was giving really would work, and that I (ridiculously) wasn’t taking my own good advice!

Many people who are overweight have heard how important exercise is to successful weight loss, but it simply goes in one ear and out the other. Exercise is simply too difficult, so why bother? For some reason we’re willing to starve ourselves on absurd diets, but we’re unwilling to put on jogging shoes or enroll in a dance class.

Maybe you don’t have time, or you’re afraid of looking silly, or you simply believe that exercise won’t produce results; whatever your excuse is, it’s time to get over it! You can always make time for your health. No one cares what you look like when you’re sweaty. And most importantly, it will work. I promise!

Nari’s Secrets to Exercise Success: 

  1. You need to make a real commitment. Fitness is a lifestyle – it is something that you maintain daily. You don’t have to go to the gym seven days a week, but you should strive to be active in some way everyday. I strive to do 20-40 minutes of strenuous aerobic activity 4-5 times per week, and then at least some strength training on the other days. If those numbers overwhelm you, keep in mind you can do less – what’s most important is that you incorporate some activity every day
  2. Start with a low-impact exercise. If you rarely exercise or are very overweight, don’t start with running or lifting weights. You may believe that getting fit requires running, but the truth is that starting with a high-impact activity when you’ve never been active before is incredibly hard on your knees, and quickly end your fitness efforts. Instead, try an elliptical machine for an impact-free jog, gentle yoga, or simply walk instead. Your joints won’t suffer, and you won’t exhaust yourself as easily. I only started running a few weeks ago – and I’ll admit that I love it – but that’s only because I sweat-it-out on the elliptical for four months first.
  3. Set goals, and always push yourself a little. Even if you can only fit-in a few minutes for exercise, you can always push yourself a little. Set small goals for yourself each time you exercise, so that you always have something to work towards. Then, increase the incline, do 3 more minutes than yesterday, or sprint to the finish! You should never exhaust yourself, but if you don’t challenge yourself you won’t improve.


note: photo courtosy of svanes‘ flickr photostream.

Recipe of the Month: Chunky Vegetable Chipotle Chili (July 2008)

26 07 2008

Incredibly delicious and satisfying vegetable chili. Even the biggest meat-lover or vegetable-hater will love this dish!

40 Minutes to Prepare and Cook. Vegan/Vegetarian.


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 8-oz white mushrooms
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2 28-oz cans of diced stewed tomatoes (low-sodium if available)
  • Half can chipotle peppers in adobo (to taste, remove seeds for less heat)
  • 3 tbs ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 15-oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans (drained and rinsed


1. Dice all vegetables.
2. Heat oil in large pot.
3. Add vegetables to pan & cook until they begin to soften.
4. Add spices and tomatoes. Cook until all vegetables are tender.
5. Add beans and heat through.
6. Serve with low-fat cheese, green onions, and fresh bread.

Nutritional Info
Number of Servings: 8
Amount Per Serving
* Calories: 161.8
* Total Fat: 4.4 g
* Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
* Sodium: 477.9 mg
* Total Carbs: 27.3 g
* Dietary Fiber: 7.3 g
* Protein: 6.5 g

Recipe of the Month: Low-Fat Tuna Salad (June 2008)

22 05 2008

I thought that posting a healthy, nutritious, & low-fat recipe once a month would be a fun addition to this site. I’m working on a recipe book for young people, so all of the recipes will be my own creations, and most will be vegetarian. However, this month will be one of my few non-vegetarian recipes.

Low-Fat Tuna Salad

This tuna salad is more moist than its original mayo version, but it still lives up to my high standards (I’ve been obsessed with great tuna salad since I was a kid).  If this low-fat version isn’t rich enough for your taste, add 1-2 tbs of olive oil and an extra dash of salt – this will increase the fat content but the dish will still be low in cholesterol and unhealthy fats.

Makes 8 Servings

Tuna, Canned in Water, 4 can
Low-fat or fat-free plain Yogurt 3/4 cup
Pickle Relish, 3/4 cup
Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, 4 tbs
Carrots, raw, 2 large
Celery, raw, 2 stalks
Onions, raw, 1 medium
Salt & pepper to taste

Drain tuna well. Dice carrots, celery and onions. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Salt & pepper to taste.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 155.8
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 26.1 mg
Sodium: 569.0 mg
Total Carbs: 12.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g
Protein: 22.7 g

What to Ask Before a One-Night Stand

19 05 2008

A “friend” of mine once admitted to me that weren’t sure what information they needed to gather from a new sexual partner (such as one that may be found prior to a one night stand) in order to know that they were safe from STDs.  Upon their request, I created the “Foreplay Card” – a small reference card with questions for you and your partner to ask one another before sex.  The Foreplay Card will help you start a conversation about your partner’s sexual history and safe sex, so print your own copy and stash it with your condoms or in your nightstand!

The Foreplay Card

The Foreplay Card

The New Youthful Face of Diabetes

9 05 2008

Unfortunately, there is a startling new face of type 2 diabetes: young people.  While most children and young adults with diabetes have type 1, soaring obesity rates are   making type 2 diabetes, a  disease that used to be seen primarily in adults over age 45, more common among young people, particularly in American Indians, African Americans, and Hispanic/Latinos.According to data reported in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 523 people younger than age 20 has diabetes1!  The CDC    explains that obesity, physical inactivity, and prenatal exposure to diabetes have become widespread, and may contribute to the increased development of type 2 diabetes during  childhood and adolescence. 

What is Diabetes?   Diabetes is a disease that  affects the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy.  It results in too much glucose in the blood, a condition that slowly damages your eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves, legs, and feet.  Diabetes is the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States, and it has no cure. 

Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

  • ð Are you overweight?
  • ð Do you get little or no exercise?
  • ð Do you have high blood pressure (130/80 or higher)?
  • ð Do you have a brother or sister with diabetes?
  • ð Do you have a parent with diabetes?
  • ð Are you a woman who had diabetes when you were pregnant OR have you had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth?
  • ð Are you African     American, Native   American, Hispanic, or Asian American/Pacific Islander?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your  medical provider if you need a diabetes test. 

Although most people with diabetes do not notice any signs, here are some possible Warning Signs:

  • ð Going to the bathroom a lot
  • ð Feeling hungry or thirsty all the time
  • ð Blurred vision
  • ð Lose weight without  trying
  • ð Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • ð Feeling tired all the time
  • ð Tingling/numbness in the hands or feet

1.  National Institute of Health News.  “Diabetes Rates Are Increasing Among Youth.”  November 13th, 2007.  <;.  

Beverage Nutriton: How to Survive in Latte-Land

27 11 2007

Welcome to Part Two of my investigation into Nutrition Action’s rhetorical question, “Pour Better or Pour Worse?”  When we last met, I discussed some of the merits of different forms of caffeine delivery (short of intravenously . . .), and today I’ll put a dent into the milk, cream, dairy powder, sugar, etc. that are added to coffee and tea drinks to make them more appealing to sugar-shocked Americans.  Let’s dive right in, and hopefully we’ll be able to get back out from under all of the saturated fat!



It is not too difficult to make healthy choices at your local coffee house, provided that you know what to look for.  Before we get to the basic guidelines like avoiding whole milk and extra syrup flavors, here are some cold, hard facts about those creamy liquid delights (consider this a scare tactic):

·        A Venti (24 oz.) Vanilla Bean Frappuccino® Blended Crème has as many calories as a Big Mac, almost as many grams of fat as a medium order of McDonald’s French Fries, and over five times as much sugar as a glazed donut from Dunkin Donuts.

·        A Venti (24 oz.) Java Chip Frappuccino® has 650 calories and nearly an entire day’s worth of saturated fat.  It’s like a cup of coffee, plus 11 creamers and 29 packets of sugar.

·        Adding a flavored syrup and whole milk to a Grande (16 oz.) adds 170 calories!


Everything is fine in moderation, but if your wouldn’t choose to eat at McDonald’s four times a week, why would you choose a Java Chip Frappuccino four times a week?  I can’t stress this enough, it is fine to enjoy a specialty coffee drink once in a while, just remember these tips to keep your coffee break from turning into a Big Mac break:

·        Substitute whole milk with non-fat milk or soy milk to save 50-100 calories and 4-5 grams of saturated fat.

·        Skip the whipped cream.  It adds about 120 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat to your drink!

·        Use no-cal, sugar free syrups over others which add about 70 calories to your drink.


Here’s what Nutrition Action has to say about Starbucks Frappuccinos®:

“The original Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee—which comes from a mix (mostly sugar, coffee, and milk) blended with ice and sans whipped cream—has only 260 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat in a grande.  Not too shabby.

. . . Shabby are all the other flavors which deliver 420 to 550 calories and about 10 grams of sat fat.”

Their experts recommend choosing a Frappuccino® Light instead of a Java Chip, but as a Frappuccino® lover myself I think that’s bad advice because Starbuck’s light version tastes horrible.  When I’m in the mood for a blended coffee, I go down to my local independent coffee house (where they make blended drinks with actual ingredients, rather than powder) and ask them to substitute the whole milk for non-fat or soy.  Some places use a dairy-based smoothie powder – to make their drinks creamy – which you can ask the barista to leave out in order to cut out sugar, carbs, and sometimes fat.  If I’m looking for a flavor punch, I bring my own banana or orange juice and ask the barista to blend that in too.  Orange zest is my favorite addition, but I know that’s a bit too much to ask of you at 8 o’clock in the morning..



Furthermore, if you’re looking for something cold and icy, try one of Jamba Juice’s new all-fruit smoothies, or make your own with fresh produce.  Although fruit smoothies pack a lot of calories and sugar, they don’t fill you with empty calories from milk and refined sugar.  Instead, they provide nutrients that we should be getting from eating a balanced diet and natural fructose sugar that sticks with you for several hours (no sugar-high here!).  Thanks to decades of fad-diets, American common-sense now tells us that a non-fat sugar-free latte is healthier than a bowl of fruit (who the hell decided that fruit was bad for you?!), but the food pyramid still tells us to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Can you imagine what the population might look like today if we all understood that we need to eat a diverse mix of unrefined produce and grains, rather than heavily-processed Weight Watchers products?