Saturday, February 28, 2015

February is American Heart Month


I hope you have enjoyed this month's celebration of American Heart Month. If you missed any of the ways you can improve your heart health, check out these posts on:
So, how can you be heart healthy?
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Be Physically Active
- Check in with Your Doctor


Food choices and physical activity level are modifiable factors that you change to improve your heart health. Please check with your personal RD or MD before staring a new diet or exercise program. 

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter.

Physical Activity and Heart Health

February is American Heart Health Month, so we are looking at lifestyle changes you can make to be more heart healthy. Today we are focusing on healthy lifestyle choices to be more heart healthy. 


Types of Physical Activity
There are two types of physical activity, aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Aerobic activity, also known as "cardio," is any activity that elevates your heart rate. There are different levels of intensity for aerobic activity. Some examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities are walking (< 3 mph), riding your bicycle (< 10 mph), doubles tennis, and ballroom dancing. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is more intense that moderate; some examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include: running, biking (> 10 mph), singles tennis, aerobic dance, and jumping rope.



Recommendations for Physical Activity from the American Heart Association
For Cardiovascular Health the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity:
  • Aerobic Activity
    • > or = 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes per week; or > or = 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes per week; or a combination of both moderate-intensity aerobic activity and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
  • Muscle-Strengthening Activity
    • > or = 2 days per week moderate-intensity to high-intensity muscle-strengthening for additional health benefits.
If your goal is to lower blood pressure or cholesterol levels, the AHA recommends "an average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week."

Health Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity has many healthy benefits including lowering blood pressure, raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol), reducing risk of diabetes, and it has been shown to help with weight management

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart attack (myocardial infarctions), please check in with your doctor to get a physical. Tell your doctor your family history of heart disease, your concerns for your health, and ask about what screening you should do. I am a register dietitian, not your personal dietitian. Check with your personal RD or MD before starting a new diet or exercise program to make sure it is healthy, safe, and the right choice for you.


This week, we discussed dietary and lifestyle choices that promote heart health. If you missed anything, check out these posts:




So, how can you be heart healthy? 
- Eat a Healthy Diet. 
- Be Physically Active.
- Check in with Your Doctor.
- See a Registered Dietitian.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Dietary Fiber and Heart Health

February is American Heart Health Month, so we are looking at lifestyle changes you can make to be more heart healthy. So, how can you be heart healthy? 
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Be Physically Active
- Check in with Your Doctor



Today we are focusing on healthy dietary choices to be more heart healthy. A diet high in fiber helps keep your heart healthy.

Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. In the body, it serves attracts water to slow intestinal transit time. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water; it passes through the body undigested and speeds intestinal transit time. In other words, insoluble fiber has a laxative-type effect to help prevent constipation.

Food Sources of Fiber
Fiber is found in many foods. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber. Sources of soluble fiber include: apples, beans, blueberries, carrots, celery, cucumber, lentils, oatmeal, oranges, pears, and strawberries to name a few. Source of insoluble fiber include corn bran, wheat bran, nuts, raisins, root vegetable skins, seeds, and whole grains. If you are unsure if your food choice is a "whole grain," look on the Nutrition Facts Label to see if the food has > or = to 3 grams of fiber. If it does, that is a great whole grain choice!

Functions of Fiber
So, what does fiber do? Fiber helps fill you up. It slows stomach emptying, which can help with weight management. Fiber also slows absorption of carbohydrates which can help aid blood glucose management. Soluble fiber can also inhibit absorption of dietary cholesterol, which helps lower blood cholesterol like LDL (low density lipoprotein) when included as part of a heart healthy diet.

How Much Fiber Is Recommended?
Adults need about 25-35 grams of fiber per day. However, most Americans only consume about 15 grams of fiber per day. That's only 50% of the recommended amount! So, how can you get more fiber? 

  • Switch to whole grain products. 
    • So instead of eating white rice, flour tortilla, or flour pasta, choose brown rice, whole grain tortillas, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, or popcorn (try 94% fat free with reduced sodium). 
  • Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
    • Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber. Try eating fruits and vegetables with the skin on to get more insoluble and total fiber. 

Please note that different medications or disease states require more or less fiber. Talk with your personal RD or MD before starting a new diet or exercise regimen. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart attack (myocardial infarctions), please check in with your doctor to get a physical. Tell your doctor your family history of heart disease, your concerns for your health, and ask about what screening you should do.

We will go through each of the dietary and lifestyle topics this week to look more in depth on how you can be heart healthy. Stay tuned for more on physical activity or take a look back at cholesterol, dietary fats, and sodium in relation to heart health.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cholesterol and Heart Health

February is American Heart Health Month, so we are looking at lifestyle changes you can make to be more heart healthy.

Today we are focusing on healthy dietary choices to be more heart healthy. A diet moderate in fat can help keep your heart healthy. Yesterday we discussed the importance of the types of dietary fat you choose. For more on saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats, check on this post on dietary fats and heart health.


Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in foods with a liver. Common sources of cholesterol in the typical American diet include animal proteins (beef, chicken, etc), eggs, and full fat dairy products.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting cholesterol to < 300 milligrams per day for a healthy person without heart disease; the recommendation is stricter, <200 milligrams cholesterol per day, for individuals with high blood cholesterol levels or a history of heart disease. 

Did you know that a whole egg has almost 200 milligrams of cholesterol? A large egg white has no cholesterol! Recent research has shown that dietary intake of saturated fat and trans fat has a bigger influence on your blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol intake. 

If you have high blood cholesterol levels, there are simple dietary choices you can make to lower your cholesterol levels. You can replace foods high in saturated or trans fat with foods containing PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) to help lower your blood cholesterol levels.


Blood Cholesterol Goals (milligrams/deciliter)
Total Cholesterol < 200
Triglycerides < 150
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol <100
HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol > or = 60


What affects blood cholesterol?
Blood cholesterol levels are affected by genetics. Blood cholesterol levels are also influences by the amount and type of dietary fats consume. Saturated fats and trans fats have been shown to raise blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol. But intake of dietary cholesterol does matter and can affect blood cholesterol. 

Diet and physical activity choices are modifiable risk factors for heart disease. Lifestyle choices, like being physically active, affect your blood cholesterol levels. Increasing physical activity can raise HDL or good cholesterol levels. A high HDL has a negative association with heart disease. Eating a healthy diet and replacing food sources high in saturated or trans fat with food choices with PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) can lower your LDL. You have control over your diet and lifestyle choices. And, you can lower your risk of heart disease by making healthy diet choices and increasing your physical activity level.

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart attack (myocardial infarctions), please check in with your doctor to get a physical. Tell your doctor your family history of heart disease, your concerns for your health, and ask about what screening you should do. Please talk to your personal RD or MD before starting a new diet or physical activity regimen.

We will continue to go through each of the dietary and lifestyle topics this week to discover how you can be heart healthy. Tomorrow we are discussing fiber and heart health. Stay tuned.

So, how can you be heart healthy? 
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Be Physically Active
- Check in with Your Doctor

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dietary Fats and Heart Health

February is American Heart Health Month, so we are looking at lifestyle changes you can make to be more heart healthy.

So, how can you be heart healthy? 
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Be Physically Active
- Check in with Your Doctor



Today, we are focusing on healthy dietary choices to be more heart healthy. A diet moderate in fat can help keep your heart healthy. We need fats for energy, cushioning of vital organs, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and much more. But, the types of fat you choose are important. Today, we are discussing the four types of fats: saturated fats, trans fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Saturated fats and trans fats are usually lumped together as "bad fats" and PUFA and MUFA are usually lumped together as "good fats." But lets look at each type of fat in a little more in depth.

Types of fat
1) MUFA
Dietary Reference Intake encourage linolenic acid, which is an essential MUFA in the omega-3 family, to 5-10% of total calories. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Some examples of foods high in linolenic acid are: nuts & seeds (flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans), vegetables (soybeans), and oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean, walnut, and wheat germ).

2) PUFA 
Dietary Reference Intake encourage linoleic acid, which is an essential PUFA in the omega-6 family, to 0.6-1.2% of total calories. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Some examples of foods high in linoleic acid are: nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils(corn, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower).

3) Saturated fat
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. The name 'saturated fat' comes from the chemical structure of these fats which are 'saturated' with hydrogen atoms.The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to <7% of total energy. The Dietary Reference Intakes recommend limiting straight fat to <10% of calories within a healthy diet. the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (DGA 2010) recommend limiting solid fats like milk fats, high-fat meats and cheeses, hard margarine, butter, lard, and shortening. DGA 2010 recommends limiting saturated fats to 10% of calories and replacing foods high in saturated fats with foods high in MUFA and PUFA.

4) Trans fat
The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fats in your diet to <1% of total energy intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 encourages you to keep trans fat intake as low as possible by limiting foods that are synthetic sources of trans fats. For example, you can limit your trans fats by limiting your consumption of partially hydrogenated oils. 

I hope this information was helpful to increase your knowledge of the types of fats and recommendations for consumption. Some disease states require higher or lower fat consumption. Please check with your RD or MD before starting a new diet. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart attack (myocardial infarctions), please check in with your doctor to get a physical. Tell your doctor your family history of heart disease, your concerns for your health, and ask about what screening you should do.

We will go through each of the dietary and lifestyle topics this week to look more in depth on how you can be heart healthy. Tomorrow we are discussing cholesterol and heart health. Stay tuned.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dietary Sodium and Heart Health: 10 Tips to Reduce Your Salt Intake

February is American Heart Health Month, so we are looking at lifestyle changes you can make to be more heart healthy.

So, how can you be heart healthy? 
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Be Physically Active
- Check in with Your Doctor

Today we are focusing on healthy dietary choices to be more heart healthy. A diet low in sodium can help keep your heart healthy. High sodium diets are linked to many health consequences including: heart failure, enlarged heart muscle, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and stroke.


So where does sodium come from?
Most of our dietary sodium comes from table salt, which is sodium chloride. We get sodium in processed foods where it is added to increase shelf-life and enhance food's taste. Foods high in sodium include: cheese, condiments, deli meats, pizza, processed foods, soy sauce, and many more. We also add salt when cooking or eating foods. And, we get sodium from many foods consumed when we eat out. Many restaurants or "fast foods" are high in dietary sodium.

How much sodium should I consume?
The American Heart Association recommends reducing dietary sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day to promote heart health. The average American usually eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. That's more than double what the AHA recommends! For reference, there are ~2,300 milligrams of sodium in 1 teaspoon of salt.

How can I reduce my sodium intake?
1) Choose low sodium foods

  • Read the Nutrition Facts Labels when grocery shopping. Try to find things < or = 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. This will help keep your dietary sodium intake from processed foods low.
  • Look for lower sodium substitutes. Many products offer reduced sodium alternatives. For example, most canned vegetables and soups have a lower sodium alternative.
  • Choose food naturally low in sodium. Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. Canned fruits and vegetables usually contain sodium. You can drain the liquid and rinse canned foods until not foamy (see picture). This will greatly decrease the sodium. 
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium, and eating fruits and vegetables has many health benefits. The DASH diet, which is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is low in sodium, high in potassium which is a mineral naturally present in many fruits and vegetables, and has been shown to decrease blood pressure (aka hypertension).



2) Add flavor without adding salt

  • A lot of our dietary sodium is added while cooking. So, try reduce the amount of salt you add when cooking
  • You can flavor foods with a salt substitute. Salt substitutes are made from potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride (table salt). Note: Some medications or disease require a low potassium diet, so check with your RD or MD before starting a salt substitute.
  • Use herbs and spices while cooking. Salt adds flavor, so if we decrease salt we need to increase flavor with something else. For example, try using garlic powder or fresh garlic instead of garlic salt when cooking. You still get the garlic flavor but without the salt!
  • Use aromatic vegetables to add flavor. I'm from Louisiana, and most Cajun or Creole recipes start with adding onion, bell pepper, and celery. Why? Because these three aromatic vegetables add flavor!

I hope these ten tips will help you reduce your salt and dietary sodium intake. Please check with your RD or MD before starting a new diet. Some medications and medical conditions require regulation of dietary sodium intake.

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart attack (myocardial infarctions), please check in with your doctor to get a physical. Tell your doctor your family history of heart disease, your concerns for your health, and ask about what screening you should do.

We will go through each of the dietary and lifestyle topics this week to look more in depth on how you can be heart healthy. Stay tuned.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Monday, February 23, 2015

February is National Heart Health Month

When you think of February, what comes to mind? Winter? Valentine's Day? Chocolate? Flowers. Did you know that February is American Heart Month?



I think this is a great time of year to think about heart health. February follows January where most people are contemplating making changes and thinking about what they want to accomplish this year.

In February, we also think about love. And love is linked to the heart. So, this is a great time to think about keeping your heart healthy. Then, you can have many, healthy years to share with your loved ones.

So, how can you be heart healthy?
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Be Physically Active
- Check in with Your Doctor

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart attack (myocardial infarctions), please check in with your doctor to get a physical. Tell your doctor your family history of heart disease, your concerns for your health, and ask about what screening you should do. And, always ask your physician before starting an exercise regimen.

We will go through each of the dietary and lifestyle topics this week to look more in depth on how you can be heart healthy. Stay tuned.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kitchen School: 3 Tips for Successful Baking

We've all had those baking disasters. Tough cakes, adding salt instead of sugar, forgetting ingredients, the list goes on and on. Is that just me? I didn't think so. Want to avoid these catastrophes? Here are three simple tips to help you become a more successful baker.


1) Be prepared
Read the recipe all the way through. Make sure you have all the ingredients and set the oven for the recommended temperature.

2) Follow directions
For example, add room temperature eggs into the creamed butter." You've added air to the butter by creaming it. This makes the butter wonderfully light and helps make a tender cake. If you add cold eggs, not room temperature eggs, the cold eggs can cause your butter to seize resulting in a flat, dense, tough cake.
Are you wondering what to do while your ingredients come to room temperature? You can try something called "mise en place." It is French for "introduction" but for chefs it means to "put in place." It is preparing all your ingredients before you introduce them to each other in the recipe. It sounds fancy, but it is simply pre-measuring your ingredients. You may have seen this being done by the chefs on Food Network.; they have all the ingredients are measured in small bowls and simply added each as the recipe calls for it.
It makes sense because it keeps you organized, and this is how most recipes are written. Recipes usually start with listing the ingredients and measurements. Then, how to combine the ingredients. And lastly, how long and at what temperature to cook the recipe.
I like the idea of mise en place; it makes me feel chef-y.

3) Check your oven temp
Investing in an oven thermometers may seem silly because the oven usually has one built in. But if you are having a problem with uneven baking, burning, or under cooking, the oven temperature could be the problem.


Seems simple right? Well it is! Every baking failure I've ever had was because I missed one of these things. Everyone has there mistakes, so learn from them and bake on! Follow these three simple steps and you will be a better baker. For more tips on baking better, check out this post on measuring to get the perfect batter or dough.

Follow me, RDtipoftheday, on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter for more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating. You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin,.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kitchen School: 3 Tips for Better Baking . . . . Measuring

 

Baking is a science. You need the right ingredients in the right proportions for the recipe to work. So, measuring accurately is key. Here are three tips for accurate measuring for better baking.

1) Use the right tools
Dry ingredients require different measuring cups than liquid ingredients.



2) Measure accurately
Most professional bakers prefer weighing ingredients to ensure accuracy. If you don't have a kitchen scale, here are some tips for measuring accurately. For dry ingredients, fluff ingredients, like flour, with a spoon before measuring. Then, use measuring cups to collect ingredients. Level with the back of a knife or straight edge. This helps get rid of extra flour without packing it down. You don't want to pack dry ingredients unless the recipe specifically calls for it.
For wet ingredients, place cup on a level surface. Pour liquid into cup and try to get eye level with the cup to ensure accuracy.




3) Measuring sticky ingredients
Spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray before measuring a sticky ingredient. This will help sticky ingredients, like honey and molasses, come out of the cups easily.

Hope these three tips help you bake better! If you liked these tips, here are some recipes to practice measuring: Banana Pecan Bread, Ginger Cookies, and Double Chocolate Brownies. For even more recipes and tips for better baking, follow me, RDtipoftheday, on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Banana Pecan Bread and Mace Recipe

Yesterday we talked about this recipe and one of its unusual ingredients. It is one of my favorite banana bread because it has a ton of pecans. Pecans are naturally high in fat, but they are naturally high in "good fats" like monounsaturated (44% of the fat in pecans) and polyunsaturated fats (24% of the fat in pecans). If you like pecans, you will love this Banana Pecan Bread.



Homemade Banana Pecan Bread Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
3 ripe bananas, mashed (~1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup light sour cream
2 large eggs
6 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Recipe adapted from Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Combine dry ingredients in a  large mixing bowl. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans.

In a mixer, mix wet ingredients. Combine banana, sour cream, eggs, butter, and vanilla. 
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. 
Spread batter in one greased loaf pan. Bake at 350*F for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

I love a make-ahead breakfast. I feel like making your breakfast ahead or having a quick breakfast is a huge time saver in the morning. Breakfast is my favorite way to start the day. Hope you enjoy the recipe.


If you allergic or do not like nuts, omit them from the recipe. This recipe is fairly high in sugar, so feel free to adjust the sugar to your liking. This recipe also has a fair amount of butter, which is a source of saturated fat. I would enjoy this recipe in moderation with a balance of a healthy lifestyle including physical activity. 

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter . You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Tale of Two Spices: Banana Bread and Mace

It amazes me how much I continue to learn about cooking, baking, and nutrition. For example, it is amazing how many spices there are from all-spice to za'atar? There are spices that define cooking from the North, East coast, West Coast, and of course from my beloved Southern states of the USA.

One of the new recipe books that I received for Christmas included a recipe for banana bread and mace. What?!? I immediately thought of the defense spray mace, but this is different. Mace inside the defensive spray is a concentration of a substance from hot chili peppers. Mace that is used in cooking is actually kin to nutmeg.



Nutmeg is a brown spice. When whole, it is an oval-shaped pit. Nutmeg can be found dried or whole. It is a warm spice that pairs well with cinnamon and is used most often in baking. It is also used in some savory cooking. For example, many of the recipes I have for b├ęchamel sauce (aka white sauce) calls for a little bit of ground nutmeg.



Mace comes from the same plant as nutmeg. Mace is bright red and actually surrounds nutmeg when both are on the nutmeg tree.  Mace is more red than nutmeg. The taste of mace is more concentrated and peppery in my opinion.



I hope you've learned a little something today in "RD school" about spice and baking. For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me, RDtipoftheday, on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter. You can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cooking with Spice

One of my first baking memories was with my grandmother. She always made brownies and pancakes when I visited. I've always had a sweet tooth and an interest in science. So, baking was always something that intrigued me. How can you take something like flour, eggs, sugar, and oil that no one would eat together like that and turn it into something delicious like pancake?

It seemed like my mom was always cooking. When I was growing up, I liked to watch her cook especially when she was making one of my favorite meals. She was also patient to let me "help" her cook, which I'm assuming slowed her down a bit. In my childhood, I did learn how to make hamburgers, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and green bean bundles for the holidays.

I became really interested in cooking in high school. I new that I would go off to college, so I needed to learn to cook to survive on a college budget. In my 20's, I had a roommate and best friend that was not picky at all. She introduced me to new foods, restaurants, and recipes. I took a few cooking courses in my undergraduate Dietetic programs. My freshman year of college, I was living in a dorm without a kitchen. When I moved to a condo off campus my sophomore year, I was happy to have a kitchen where I could create. Cooking has always been a stress-reliever and a creative outlet for me.




This year, I received many cooking-related gifts. I invested in some cookbooks. These cookbooks have renewed my interest in cooking and challenged my to try new things. Some of these new things include spices. Since I grew up in Louisiana, I am familiar with garlic, cayenne, and Louisiana spices. These new cookbooks gave introduced me to a ton of new recipes and will provide many opportunities for learning, tasting, and trying new things. Some of the new things include trying new flavors and spices. I bought several new herbs and spices to cook with: ginger, crystallized ginger, sage, cardamom, thyme, and mace. Stay tuned as I try new recipes, new spices, and kitchen tools. I'll share some recipes and results. To follow my journey to cook 50 new recipes in 2015, search #50RDrecipes, #NYNR, or #NewYearNewRecipes.

I hope that you learn a little something from the blog. For more information, recipes, and tips and tricks for healthy eating, follow RDtipoftheday on on PinterestInstagramTwitter and you can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Top 10 Kitchen Tools You Need

Tools of the Trade: RDtipoftheday's Top Ten Kitchen Tools

One of my goals for 2015 is to bake or cook more, 50 new recipes in 2015 to be exact. So, this works out as about 1 new recipe per week. I think this will definitely be a challenge, a push, but I think it is achievable. We'll see how I do. :)

I believe all good recipes start with the same thing: the right tools and ingredients. A couple of my staples are:

1) Large pot
Le Creuset and Cuisinart are some of my favorite brands. These are great for pasta and one pot meals. I love a one pan meal.






2) Saute pan
I like nonstick pans for their ease of cleaning. Look for a pan that is stove top and oven-safe.

3) 1/2 sheet baking pan
This is my favorite cookie sheet and most used cooking sheet.

4) Sharp knives
Knives are a true cook's best tool. They can be an investment, so care for them as instructed and they last a long time.

5) Cutting boards
I like to have a board for meat that is dishwasher-safe and a separate board for fruits and vegetable prep.

6) Measuring cups/spoons
Make sure you have measuring cups for dry and wet ingredients. They are slightly different and will make a difference in your cooking and especially in your baking. In baking, precision is key.

7) Spatulas
Spatulas are probably my most-used kitchen tool. They are great for mixing, flipping, stirring; they are a kitchen essential.

8) Mixer or mixing bowls
I love my Kitchen Aide mixer. It is a beautiful matte gray/silver, and it is the workhorse of my kitchen. I  personally prefer this to a hand-mixer

9) Baking vessels
I realize this is a broad category, but I think it's an important one that you should personalize to your baking preferences. This category includes bread loaf pans, bunt pans, pie pans, muffin pans, quiche pans, 8x13 cake pan

10) Scoops
I use my scoops to make cookies. They scoop an exact amount of dough to make uniform cookies that bake evenly. Also, they are great to serve food - mashed potatoes, rice, and of course ice cream!


With theses 10 or so tools, you can take on almost any recipe. This year, I've added a couple new tools thanks due to my awesome family!! I have added a candy/frying thermometer, new spatulas, stone bread loaf pans, a mini bread loaf pan, a mandolin, a mortar and pestle, kitchen timer, and 3 new cook books!

I don't have many cookbooks, so I am excited about these new, beautiful, inspiring recipes. When my husband and I got married, I asked for my family and friends' favorite recipes in lieu of cookbooks. I enjoyed collecting all of these tried-and-true recipes and my husband and I became a family. Now, I am excited to try some new recipes!

I hope you enjoyed this post about my kitchen essentials. Please let me know if I left out any of your kitchen tool necessities in the comments below.

Also, let me know if there are any ingredients or dishes you want me to try in the new feature #NewYearNewRecipes #NYNR #50RDrecipes

For more recipes and tips and tricks for healthy eating, follow RDtipoftheday on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chicken Marsala: An Easy Entree

Did you know that today is National Italian Food Day? Here's an easy entree, Chicken Marsala, to make to celebrate today or for Valentine's Day.

This Chicken Marsala is delicious. It will make your house smell wonderful. It has 10 ingredients (if you don't count the salt and pepper) and is simple to make. 




Chicken Marsala with Orzo
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup Marsala cooking wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon butter
2 cups cooked orzo
2 teaspoons fresh parsley for garnishing

Heat oil in Dutch Oven over medium high. (Thanks for my Le Creuset hubby!) Add mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes. Move mushrooms to the sides of the pan. Add chicken to the middle of the pan. Add thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook chicken 2-3 minutes on each side. Add wine. Cook 1-2 minutes. RDTip: You want to cook the alcohol off in the pan. So, cook the alcohol until you can no longer smell it. Add chicken stock, and cook for 8 minutes. Mix butter and flour into a paste in a separate bowl with a fork. Add paste to the pot. Cook 2-3 minutes until thickened. 
Cook orzo according to directions on package to yield at least 2 cups cooked pasta.
Serve Chicken Marsala over orzo.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 servings (1/2 cup cooked orzo with 1/4 of the Chicken Marsala recipe)

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It was a hit in my home! This is a great, easy entree to entertain with. It holds well in the dutch oven for 20-30 minutes. This would be a great entree to make for Valentine's day. Enjoy!


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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dessert Bar for Valentine's Day: Double Chocolate Brownies and Ginger Cookies

There is something about the cold weather that makes me want to bake. Maybe it's being near an oven to keep warm. Maybe it's because I love sweets. Maybe it's because baking sweets is a good excuse to invite people over and share the baked-good-love. Or, maybe it's a combination of those reasons.

I have always enjoyed baking. I love sweets and a reason to eat sweets. Valentine's Day is a perfect reason to bake treats, invite people over, and share.



I made this Valentine's Day inspired dessert tray with two simple recipes and store-bought chocolate covered pretzels. I made ginger cookies and double chocolate brownies. 

These double chocolate brownies could also be called boyfriend brownies because you could make them to get a boy who's a friend to become your boyfriend (hahahaha! just joking.). Do you know the old saying that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach? These brownies may qualify for that statement. But, these really are super simple brownies; they are a great, easy recipe for a beginning baker. They are simply jazzed up boxed brownie mix.

Double Chocolate Brownies
1 box fudge brownie mix
oil
eggs
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Nonstick cooking spray

Follow the recipe on the brownie box and add the recommended amount of oil and egg. Mix well. Spray 8 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add brownie batter. Top with chocolate chips. Bake according to the box. This recipe is so easy I don't even know if it qualifies as a "recipe." 


Enjoy! Happy (early) Valentine's Day!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Being a Good Host/Hostess Part 3: Easy Entertaining

Now you know you don’t need to be perfect to be a good host or hostess , and you have taken 3 easy steps to plan your meal. Let’s all take a deep breath because you don’t have to do all the work by yourself.

When you entertain, feel free to enlist your family or guests to help. In Southern culture when you are invited, to party it is customary to offer to bring something. Remember as the host, you are doing most of the work, so feel free to take your guest up on their offer. I usually tell my guest what I am planning to make for the main course and ask if they would prefer to bring a salad, bread, or dessert. Give them choices. You guest will feel more comfortable with choosing options and you ensure that they will choose something they like to eat and something that suites their cooking ability.

Also, don’t forget about the store. I like to use things from the store to make cooking and hosting easier. 
  • Pick up something pre-made, ready-to-assemble, or take shortcuts. 
    • For example, pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables with dip for an easy, ready-to-assemble appetizer. 
  • For a shortcut, have your butcher cut your meat to save you time on the main course. 
  • Pick up an idea or actual salad from the pre-made, ready-to-assemble salads in the produce section of your grocery store. 
  • If baking is not your specialty, pick up a dessert or ice cream.
I hope this simple approach helps enable you to be a better planner, takes any fear away from entertaining, and encourages you to host more.  It doesn’t need to be perfect to be fun! So be authentic, enlist help, and invite someone over for dinner!
For more on being a better host/hostess see part 1 and part 2. Also, stay tuned for some ideas for easy appetizers, simple sides, dreamy desserts, and real menus you can use for your next party.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow RDtipoftheday on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter. Or, you can subscribe to this blog, RDtipoftheday.blogspot.com, through BlogLovin, which is a free app that automatically updates every time a I publish a new blog post.