National Margarita Day – Salud


Happy National Margarita Day - Salud.

It seems to me that everyone (of drinking age) had a tequila story: a memorial experience with this beverage that may or not be told in the first person… Today is National Margarita Day, the only way I can enjoy tequila as an experienced adult.

A margarita is 1 ounce of tequila, ½ ounce triple sec and the juice of one lime, served with or without ice in a salted rim glass. Consumed this way = 100 calories.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a low-calorie beverage every time you have one! Go to a restaurant and things change dramatically, especially if you choose a frozen/blended margarita. For example, according to the Red Lobster website, a Traditional Lobsteria® contains 890 calories. Granted this is a large volume, but I know they are very popular.

One local New Mexican restaurant offers a “signature” 44 ounce margarita on the rocks, as well as a very popular coconut margarita complete with a coconut rimmed glass (no salt here) held on with honey. There are as many variations on the margarita today as there are stories about who invented it.

I am often considered a downer when it comes to these issues of mentioning how many calories are in certain foods. I don’t randomly tell people that they about to suck down half their calories for the day through their straw. I offer the information so people can make informed decisions about their choices.  Just thinking of “pitcher” night at Chelsea’s back in the day… all these people with their own pitcher with a straw. Blissfully unaware.

Of course I enjoy a blended beverage on occasion – even the high calorie ones. (Just wait for Pina Colada Day on July 10.) If I didn’t know any better, I would have these drinks more often, but it isn’t worth having to burn an estimated extra 500 calories from an alcoholic drink. Once in a while is fine with me.

You do get health benefits from consuming a shot of spirits, including tequila, rum, vodka, gin, etc., but I always remind people there are still calories in there, and generally the extra (excess) calories come from the mixers.

To your health – Salud.

Here are links to four of favorite “margarita” recipes:

Margarita Salmon

Margarita Braised Chicken Thighs

Margarita Angel Cake

Salty Chihuahua



My Snowshoe Escapade: A Rookie No More!


Me with Sam (our leader!) and one of the beautiful NM views behind us.

Last week I took on a new venture: snowshoeing. I wanted to try snowshoeing for years, and the opportunity presented itself when UNM Recreational Services offered a group snowshoe hike.

After asking a few people with snowshoeing experience if they thought I could do it, I signed up to go. I had some reservations after the sub-freezing temperatures we had throughout New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, but the day was a beautiful sunny day – typical for New Mexico. I carefully planned several layers of clothing. I get cold and hate being cold, but I knew with the sun and the exercise it would get warm quickly.

Set with gear, clothing and snacks we drove up to Santa Fe’s Aspen Vista Trail. While this is a forest service road, starting at 10,000 feet at the parking lot, we took the scenic route through the aspen trees straight up hill…

While snowshoeing is like walking with very wide shoes, this was a HIKE, not a walk. We would stop for regular breaks to let everyone re-group and catch their breath. Here is how the first half of the hike went: uphill, uphill, meadow, hill, and hill. It was invigorating and warm.

The hike uphill was just over one mile in distance, but a climb of over 1,000 feet. When we emerged near the top of the Santa Fe Ski Area’s Super Chief chair lift at 11,250 feet it was clear, sunny and a bit windy, but with spectacular views of New Mexico. It was worth the higher heart rate!

After a short lunch with the group, and learning to maneuver sitting down and standing up in snowshoes (lots of laughing), we headed back down the mountain. This is a little trickier, and much faster, but still 100% fun.

Some of us went off the trail and ventured into untouched powder, which was an adventure on its own. Tumbling, sliding and hysterical laughter soon became the norm. By now, we had unzipped jackets and gloves stashed into pockets. It was warm and even falling in the snow with bare hands didn’t slow us down. We dried and warmed up quickly.

Back at the parking low, things got chilly quickly. But with some hot chocolate with marshmallows and new friends all around, we drove back to Albuquerque.

I had a great time, wasn’t sore or achy, but I was in bed and asleep by 9:30 that night. I can’t wait until next time.


Pick Pistachios


Alamogordo, New Mexico is home to the World's Largest Pistachio

Pistachio ice cream, pistachio salad, pistachio nuts… When I was younger, my mom got pistachios that had beige shells with green nuts inside. If you were around in the 70’s and 80’s, you might remember these things being red. It seemed we were the only ones at the time who had the “natural” nuts. I remember having pistachio ice cream that wasn’t green either.

Today most people know that pistachios are green, thanks to marketing of this nutrition powerhouse. Pistachios originate from several other countries, but they are also grown in southern New Mexico (along with pecans, peanuts, and of course chile).

Pistachios, like most nuts, are a good source of protein (6 g), fiber (3 g), and unsaturated fat (11 g) per serving. They also contain many vitamins and minerals. One 1-ounce serving of pistachios is 49 nuts and only 160 calories, compared to most other nuts that are 180-200 calories per ounce.

The best way to get your pistachios is free and clear, straight from the bag. And make sure they are GREEN.

You can make pistachio baklava, your own pistachio ice cream, and pistachio salad. I tend to go with the nuts on their own, or occasionally in baklava, which I can buy locally.

How do you like pistachios?


 Heart of the Desert – buy pistachio baklava, red chile flavored pistachios (these are okay red), pistachio brittle… Enjoy.

McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and home of the World’s Largest Pistachio in Alamogordo, New Mexico – they also sell many flavors of pistachios.

Pistachio Ice Cream – it’s ice cream with real pistachios in it! And, the only part that is green are the nuts. A recipe from Epicurious.

Spring Salad with Grapes and Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese a recipe from Cooking Light at

The Green Nut and Pistachio Health for nutrition information, resource and more recipes.  

No affilation with any farmers, sellers, or pistachio organization.


For the Love of Peanut Butter

Image courtesy of the Sunland Peanut butter website at

Dark Chocolate peanut butter! Is there anything better?

I love peanut butter. It is a staple in my house, and everyone in my family regularly takes turns eating it straight from the jar.

As a kid, I wasn’t a lunch meat girl. It was (natural) peanut butter and honey sandwiches in my plaid lunchbox.

When I was pregnant peanut butter was the primary source of quality protein in my diet, since I could “handle” it.

My son, who is not allergic to peanuts, had peanut butter sandwiches nearly every day for lunch during elementary school. That was a 5 year food jag. At 20 he still loves it.

I panic if a client/patient does not like, or cannot eat, peanut butter. It is a nice blend of protein and healthy fat to satisfy an afternoon hunger pang.

It goes great with apples, crackers and in a smoothie.

Two tablespoons (golf ball size) of peanut butter is 180-200 calories, 16 grams of fat (only 3 grams saturated), 8 grams of protein, and no cholesterol.

It comes 100% natural with no added salt or sugar, natural with added salt, or the type with added sugars. Crunchy or creamy makes no difference in the nutritional value.

You can get it flavored: honey, raspberry, and even dark chocolate. Be careful with dark chocolate, since it could very likely be the perfect food. While these have some added sugar, the benefit of peanut butter, with its high monounsaturated fat content, generally outweighs the added sugar if that is your preference.

One of my biggest “peeves” about peanut butter: reduced fat peanut butter! Drives me nuts…Reduced fat peanut butter takes out the healthy fat, adds in more salt and sugar, but the calories are the same. Go for the “regular”! It is better for you.

Justin’s Nut Butter has single serve packs that are great to stash in the office, purse, travel with and just carry around to make people jealous. Justin’s peanut butter comes in regular, honey and chocolate.

Sunland Peanut Butter, made with New Mexico grown Valencia peanuts (the best tasting peanut in the world) originates from Portales in eastern NM. In addition to the regular organic, Sunland carries flavor infused peanut butter such as the above mentioned raspberry, banana and even a Chipotle Chile. Try that on a cracker.

The other brands are great, but the fewer ingredients in it the better. All peanut butter requires is a good blender or something to mash those peanuts. Don’t dump the oil either; otherwise it is nearly impossible to spread! That oil is good for you too.

How do you like your peanut butter? I take mine with a spoon most of the time, or add it to my smoothie.

An Apple a Day…

There is nothing quite like the apple right off the tree.

Today we can get many fruits year round including apples. But, there just seems to be something fresh about the Red Delicious, Granny Smith or Champagne apple THIS time of year that you don’t get from the store: a caramel apple at the State Fair, picking apples in the orchard, or bobbing for apples (it is tough, there is a trick). 

The expression, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” is pretty true, assuming you are eating an overall healthy diet and exercising regularly too. Even though apples don’t have a high amount of vitamin C like the orange, or much of a lot of vitamins and minerals, it also does not have a lot of calories: a medium apple (~3” diameter) is about 95 calories and 4.5 g fiber. Fiber can help with regularity, which can help reduce risk of colon cancer. Fiber is also linked with controlling cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and weight management. 

Apples are also loaded with phytochemicals, most notably powerful antioxidants. These plant compounds are linked to reducing the risk of cancer, and potentially many other diseases. Research is ongoing in this area, but it isn’t likely those apples are harmful. No, not even the seeds, which do contain a cyanide compound in such small amounts, that even if you ate a pound of apples including the seeds, your body can handle it. 

Which apples? They are all good, assuming that you haven’t peeled them, loaded them with sugar, and slapped a pie crust or a layer of crisp on top of them. 

New Mexico Apples 

In a handful of the places I have lived, from Washington State to Maine, and even here in New Mexico we are able to get our own apples straight from the orchard. While Washington is known for their apples, New Mexico has our own famous apples: Dixon Apples – home of the famous Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy apples. These apples are not sold in stores; you have to go to the orchard to pick them up. There are lines: lines of cars to get to the orchard and lines of people to get into the building. But once you get into the building you can buy ½ bushel bags (about 22 pounds) and gallons of cider. Pack a picnic, and after you have made your purchases you can sit among the apple trees and watch the other people in line, or turn your back to them and enjoy the scenery. 

Enjoy those apples and their health benefits! 

Disclaimer: I have no connection with Dixon Apples, no discount or anything. I’m just a fan.

Excuses Not To Excercise

No Excuses

As a both a runner and a cyclist, people offer advice on why those of us who chose to take part in these activities should avoid them. Apparently, we are destroying our bodies and risking our lives every time we take part in these activities!  Once someone finds the time to exercise, they now find a reason that the exercise is harmful for them.

Running is hard on the body. Just last week  someone told me of her success in completing a half marathon. She said she wasn’t likely going to do it again because it is “so hard on the body.” I didn’t argue with her, since it was how she felt. However, there is more research on the benefits of running than the harm it may do. For example, there is no connection between running and arthritis (knees or hips), and runners may have less incidence of arthritis than nonrunners. Runners have lower mortality and less physical disability than nonrunners. While there are risks of running, such as stress fractures and other injury, this is often the result of poor training or over-training. Running fits into a well-rounded exercise program and can provide more benefit to the body than harm.

Biking is dangerous. As with any activity, including walking or driving a car, biking has its risks. You can fall, crash into another object, or get hit by a car. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2008 Traffic Safety Facts for Bicyclists, “716 bicyclist deaths in 2008 (in the United States) accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities during the year.” They also made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes in 2008. Here is another thing to consider: in nearly a third of the crashes, either the driver of the motor vehicle or the cyclist tested positive for alcohol. Of the 716 cycling deaths in the United States, seven of those 2008 deaths occurred in New Mexico.

When one compares cycling to walking: in the same year, 2008, 4,378 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 were injured in traffic crashes. Additionally, in nearly half of the incidents that resulted in a fatality, alcohol was involved, more often on the part of the pedestrian. Of the 4,378 fatalities, 39 of them were in New Mexico.  

Bottom line: We are all going to die. Walk, run, bike, and drive sober. Exercise regularly. Train smart. Wear a helmet when riding a bike. Enjoy it all.

Chef’s Bistro IS a Restuarant too!

Chef's Elegant Catering

Chef's Elegant Catering

UPDATE: On September 19, 2010 We went to Chef’s for a brunch and it was CLOSED. A sign for a new restaurant already in place. We were disappointed to lose a descent place close to our home.

Today, I finally got to go to Chef’s Bistro near our home; a small restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch Tuesday – Sunday from 7:00 am – 2:00 pm.

My husband and I enjoy an occasional breakfast out, and have wanted to find somewhere near our home that isn’t one of those 24-hour-serve-breakfast-when-you-want chains. We live off of I-40 and what was once the edge of town, so there are a lot of those chains with poor service nearby. We want something we can ride our bikes to or even walk to if we want.

Chef’s Elegant Catering is a catering company that has been in business in Sequoia Square at Coors and Sequoia for three years. Just over a year ago, they open up the restaurant (Chef’s Bistro) part of the business. Serving breakfast and lunch only, it covers a nice variety, though not overwhelming, of breakfast and lunch dishes.  They don’t serve alcohol, which makes sense, since they don’t serve dinner; but someone did ask about beer.

We went a little after noon and I was still in the mood for breakfast. Having read a review on, I wanted the “New Orleans Famous Bananas Foster” French toast. I almost always get French toast when eating breakfast out, and love bananas foster, so this was something I had to try. French bread, bananas, and bananas foster syrup – which wasn’t too sweet. Chef’s also serves breakfast burritos, skillets, and classic breakfast plates including omelets and Huevos Rancheros.

My husband wanted a hearty lunch, since he had a long bike ride this morning. He initially chose “The Zia,” a grilled chicken breast simmered in green chile with a black bean salad. However, at the last-minute he changed his mind and ordered a Po’ boy: an original hot roast beef with gravy. Po’ boys come in 6” or 12”, and the 6” was fine with him. I ate half of his sweet potato fries. Several other lunch favorites are available too: burgers, sandwiches, salads, Po’ boys and some hot plates with fish, chicken and New Mexico favorites including enchiladas and burritos.

Chef Michael, a friendly fellow, was our server as well as the owner. I told him that I had wanted to come by for several months, but would remember at 1:30, and they close at 2:00. He says that if people come by at 1:59, they will serve them since his kitchen is the catering kitchen as well. This is a nice neighborhood restaurant with about a dozen tables. We will be regulars. To date, there isn’t a website for the Bistro, just the catering portion of the business.