We all Scream!

A variety of ice cream

July 15 is National Ice Cream Day.

Sunday, July 15 is National Ice Cream Day (third Sunday in July). But does anyone need an excuse to eat ice cream?

Do you know why Baskin Robbins chose “31 flavors”? (Answer below.)

Who doesn’t like ice cream? With the seemingly endless varieties at the grocery store, the ice cream shops, the convenience store and the choice of “a la mode” with practically any dessert, there is something about ice cream that everyone can find a way to enjoy it.

Many people think of ice cream as a treat, something that they really enjoy, but feel they shouldn’t eat it. People often shy away from telling me that they eat ice cream thinking that I am going to tell them to stop…which I don’t. I say, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty. BUT yes, there is a catch: I don’t suggest that you enjoy a pint of ice cream every day. It is how much and how often you like to enjoy ice cream that is problematic or just fine.

A single serving of ice cream is one-half cup. Don’t laugh. That is four servings in one-pint of ice cream. Yes, that “small” container you eat from. Problem? The difference between the real serving and the full pint is around 700 calories for premium ice cream (230 calories in half cup vs. 920 calories in a pint) or 400 calories for other brands (130 calories in half cup vs. 520 calories in a pint).  Check out the Nutrition Facts label, the shop’s website or CalorieKing.com to find out how many calories in your favorites.

Ok, ok. I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but this is reality that people are often oblivious of. I love ice cream, especially making my own (last summer I had five flavors that I had made in my freezer). Because cold foods are usually less flavorful than warm-hot foods, ice cream needs a lot of fat and sugar to help it have flavor (and taste good). I acknowledge that many low-fat and/or low-sugar ice creams just don’t fill the need for some people. This is why I say have the REAL deal that you enjoy and satisfies you and not having a sub-par “ice cream” that you don’t really enjoy.

Some of my favorite ice cream recipes:

What is your favorite ice cream flavor, variety, or brand?

Answer to question: Baskin Robbins had 31 flavors so customers could enjoy a different flavor every day of the month.

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It is a Berry, Berry Nice Time of Year

Berries for Sale

July is Berry Month – go enjoy.

Many people love the summer season for many reasons – longer, warmer days, no school, vacations, cookouts and…summer fruit, including some of the best-loved fruit: berries, yummy berries. Loaded with vitamin C, potassium and fiber and not loaded with calories, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries are all part of this nutritious family of fruit. They are eaten fresh, frozen and sometimes dried – preferably without added sugar – and like so many fruits and other plant foods, they have many health benefits including disease prevention and anti-aging properties due to their many antioxidants and phytochemicals. Ranging from 25-50 calories per half cup serving, berries make a great snack or dessert by themselves or make a healthy ingredient to so many foods.

Strawberries: eight-medium strawberries are one serving and contain more vitamin C than an orange. While a botanist will tell us that strawberries are not true berries, we do think of them as berries and we are able to enjoy them year round.

Raspberries: are found as red, gold (looking like anemic red raspberries) and black. Most common to us as fresh are the red raspberries, though all of them are healthy in their own way. Raspberries contain twice the fiber of blueberries and strawberries and taste great warm right off the plant.

Blackberries: start red but turn “black” when they ripen. If you have ever enjoyed fresh blackberries you know that the full, shiny “fat” ones are just the only way to eat them since they have the best flavor.

Blueberries: aren’t really blue… Anyone who has eaten blueberries knows they have purple skin and green flesh. Touted as the fruit highest in antioxidants,  blueberries are often considered a superfood in the nutrition world. People enjoy blueberries fresh and in smoothies like other berries, but these are also very popular in baking (pancakes anyone?).

Cranberries: most people only think of cranberries during the winter holidays or when they are in the midst of a urinary tract infection (or when ordering a Cosmopolitan). Because the fruit is extremely tart most people prefer their cranberries with sweetener of some kind. This is why you often find cranberry juice cocktail and not pure cranberry juice and dried cranberries are also sweetened.

Don’t be shy about trying berries in new and different ways. While strawberry shortcake, blueberry muffins and smoothies are just fine and classic ways to enjoy berries, try new and different ways to use berries. Try this recipe from Eating Well: Filet Mignon with Blueberry Bourbon Sauce.

What is your favorite way to enjoy berries?

For more information and recipes check out:

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I Buy Hard-Boiled Eggs – Go Ahead and Judge Me

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Would you buy these to save time?

I work with a lot of people who want to eat healthier (I am a dietitian after all, so this does make sense). Some of the biggest challenges of the people I work with are that they are busy and feel that they don’t have time to eat healthy or prepare healthy foods. Who isn’t busy these days? A few people aren’t, but I suggest you don’t admit that to the rest of us.

So, when I am helping people who are trying to balance work, family, “me” time, fitness, other activities along with a healthy diet, I believe that is it sometimes okay to have short-cuts such as microwavable frozen brown rice or vegetables: a quick, easy, convenient way to get healthy food on the plate for the family.

So, earlier this summer on our weekly trip to Costco, a new item caught my attention this fir the bill for “quick and easy”: pre-packaged, peeled, hard-boiled eggs. Two–dozen for $3.99. I often mention to my clients that a hard-boiled egg can be part of breakfast out-the-door or a quick afternoon snack. I suggest boiling some on Sunday for the week.  It isn’t hard to do (with Albuquerque’s high altitude it does take some practice to get it right), but it does take time, and it is sometimes messy when it comes to peeling. Also, the kitchen and fridge stink a bit after the boil.

These hard-boiled eggs were also useful on a road-trip we took in mid-August (in rural New Mexico and Arizona) when we packed a cooler of snacks to include our water, fruit, string cheese and these eggs. We had our breakfast at the hotel, had our snacks through the day and our dinner out in the evening.

Now, I know that some people feel this is a ridiculous item – pre-cooked, pre-peeled, eggs? How hard is it to boil and peel an egg?! No one is saying it is hard. It isn’t. Anyone who can navigate the internet and read directions can find out how to make a hard-boiled egg. Members of my family would make a two or three at a time, several times a week. So, rather than boiling some eggs here and there during the week, we have chosen to use less energy, and spend less money and save time by purchasing this convenience item. To some people think it is silly, but for us it gives us more time to wash the fresh fruits and veggies that we also pack for lunch and snacks. Also, it can cut your deviled egg preparation time down dramatically!

The big question for these pre-packaged eggs: how do they taste? Answer: if you didn’t know, you couldn’t tell. The whites aren’t rubbery; the yolks don’t have a greenish-gray line (maybe that would be the giveaway). They tastes just like…eggs. There are real eggs, so they taste like real eggs. Go figure. And, no they are no more “slimy” than regular hard-boiled eggs, which are pretty slimy in my opinion. Try picking up a deviled egg from a plate some time.

When it comes to convenience foods, sometimes I take shortcuts.  As a rule, the shortcuts are “real” food and help me cut down on prep time: frozen vegetables, frozen brown rice (6 minutes vs. 55 minutes), a rotisserie chicken vs. my own roasted chicken (10 minutes vs. 90 minutes or more). But as a rule I don’t take shortcuts that will substitute a processed food. For example, I make my own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches  (not the un-crustables in the freezer aisle) and I make my own cookies, brownies and cakes from scratch (so no buying cookie dough or a cake or brownie mix).

November 2 is National Deviled Egg Day – try this yummy recipe from Cooking Light: Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs, and with the pre-packaged, pre-cooked, pre-peeled eggs, you get to skip Step 1, and go directly to Step 2. Quick and easy.

Okay, now…judge away. What convenience foods to you use?

Safe Grilling – How Do You Know?


Grilled Salmon with Citrus Tomato Salsa

When someone says “safe grilling” most people think of keeping the kids away when the match is lit or keeping a safe distance as you hear the “clicker” over and over again on the old gas grill until the “whoomp” of the flame lights up and the grill is safely heating with little damage to arm and facial hair.

In my household, safe grilling means being armed with the most essential grilling tool: the instant read thermometer. An instant read thermometer is different from a meat thermometer or a candy thermometer in that is reads the temperature of a food instantly (hence the name “instant read”). I have several of these for when I am cooking more than one food that needs checking and even keep one in our camper.

Do not put this thermometer in the oven or grill during cooking, but use it to test or check food intermittently when you think it might be ready. Trust me, you will destroy your thermometer if you put it in your meat and close the lid of your grill.

This tool helps you prevent over cooked fish and under cooked burgers. You can have perfectly cooked chicken breasts (not dried out) and just right steaks. Now you need to know what temperature “perfectly” cooked means.

  • All ground meat (such as burgers) = 160 degrees
  • All red meat (this includes pork) = 145 degrees (higher if you want “well-done”)
  • All poultry = 165 degrees
  • All fish = 145 degrees

An instant read thermometer costs around $10 and is found in the kitchen section of most big box stores. You don’t need to get fancy – you just need to use it.

When most people say they are grilling, they pull out the hot dogs, burgers or steaks. In our household burgers and hot dog rarely or never touch the grill (or even pass through the door) – it is steaks, chops, chicken or fish. Just a bit of oil or cooking spray and things are good. I love it because I don’t have the oven or broiled heating up the kitchen in the summer.

Below is a recipe for Grilled Salmon with Citrus-Tomato Salsa for your grill (or your broiler) – courtesy of the Unilever Kitchens. In exchange for me publishing this recipe, the folks at I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® are sending me two Bamboo BBQ Roll-Up Sets. I’m going to keep one (since I already told my husband about it – sorry), but the second one I’m giving away to one of my readers.

To qualify you need to comment answering all three of the following questions:

  1. What do you grill?
  2. When was the last time you grilled?
  3. How do you know you are cooking it safely?

Submit your comment by August 22 – I will choose one person at random and I will announce the winner on August 23. Hopefully, I will get your grill set to you in time for grilling on Labor Day Weekend.


Serves: 4, Preparation Time: 15 Minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes


2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 large navel orange, peeled, sectioned and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sliced green onions
6 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper (optional)
4 Tbsp. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® All Purpose Sticks
4 salmon fillets (about 1 lb.)


  1. Combine tomatoes, oranges, green onions, 4 tablespoons cilantro and jalapeno pepper in large bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and ground black pepper; set aside.
  2. Blend I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Spread, remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and, if desired, salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Grill or broil salmon, brushing with cilantro spread, until salmon is opaque, turning once. Serve salsa with salmon.

NOTE: Recipe can be halved.

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories 320, Calories From Fat 170, Saturated Fat 4.5 g, Trans Fat 0 g, Total Fat 18 g, Cholesterol 60 mg, Sodium 160 mg, Total Carbohydrates 13 g, Sugars 8 g, Dietary Fiber 3 g, Protein 24 g, Vitamin A 30%, Vitamin C 100%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%.


Wonderful Watermelon


National Watermelon Day – August 3

Here is a fun way to get more water in your diet: eat more watermelon. In addition to being mostly water, well over 90%, watermelon is a great source of lycopene the phytonutrients most commonly associated with tomatoes.

There is really no reason to not eat watermelon and everyone from children to adults can eat it. Two cups of watermelon (which is a lot) has about 80 calories, or about the same amount as a medium apple, orange, pear, or peach. From vitamins A and C, as well as fiber and the before mentioned lycopene, watermelon is a nutrition fruit to enjoy in many ways. Have it diced and frozen or chopped in a salad with feta or bleu cheese and balsamic – yummy.

From a food safety perspective – it is important to wash the watermelon before you cut it. Even though you do not eat the rind, the watermelon can have contamination on the surface and the knife cutting through can “drag” contaminants through the edible portion on the fruit. You don’t want to get sick from your watermelon.

I am often asked if one can eat “too much” watermelon. I remember watching watermelon eating contests as a kid – but don’t recall ever being repulsed by it (unlike some of these “contests” today).  So, while it is certainly possible, I find it unlikely. It takes about 22 cups or nearly 8 pounds of watermelon to reach 1,000 calories. Can you eat “too much”?

Enjoy some of these beautiful, clever and talented watermelon carvings.

Try a new recipe for variety and to help you go through your watermelon.

Enjoy National Watermelon Day on August 3 and any other day you wish. It is good for you.

For more information on watermelon, go to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.


Lost Kitchen Appliance Update


Homemade Pasta on the Drying Rack

Six months ago I posted about some of my long-lost kitchen appliances. Today, I give an update and introduce my new favorite appliance.

Honestly, some of these appliances I consider seasonal, but that is my personal quirk. The bread machine, waffle iron and Crockpot/slow cooker tend to be winter appliances. However, my blender is definitely a summer appliance: smoothies for breakfast in summer, but not so much in the winter. It isn’t that I don’t use these items in the opposite season; they just tend to be used so much more in their “season.”

The long lost kitchen appliance that has gotten the most use in the last couple of months: the pasta machine. Something we received in 1994 had gone into hibernation for about 8-9 years. We hadn’t used it in this house and we moved here in 2003. I usually have one pasta dish each week, always store-bought. One day my husband suggested we make pasta. After searching for the original recipe (cleverly store in the box with the pasta machine) I mixed up a double batch in the KitchenAid mixer using the dough hook (life-saver). Cranking away and having noodles on the drying rack – half the batch ended up in the freezer for later use and half in the fridge to eat that night. A couple of weeks later, I search the freezer to find no pasta. Someone cooked it up for lunch one day and ate it all. So, this past Sunday, I made another double batch no one in the house knows about and put both in the freezer. The family won’t know until it is time to pull it out to cook it.

New Member to the Kitchen Appliance Family

Right before Memorial weekend, I got a new appliance. Actually it is an appliance accessory: ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. I am so excited about this accessory that I have made 8 batches of sorbet/ice cream in the last 6 weeks.

I grew up with homemade ice cream during the summer. We had the hand crank with the ice and rock salt. The rule of the house was that if you didn’t crank, you didn’t get ice cream. About 16 years ago I acquired a hand crank ice cream maker, and never used it. Too much time, too much work, and it held a lot of ice cream. (We are a pint family, not a half-gallon family.)

The new toy is fun and I love experimenting with the various recipes I have had to set aside over the years because we didn’t have an ice cream maker/freezer.  Three flavors are  in the freezer now: Tequila Lime Sorbet (my son’s favorite), Lemon-Buttermilk Ice Cream (my favorite), and Salted Caramel Ice Cream (my husband’s favorite). Those favorites are based on what is in the freezer. The Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet and Rum-Macadamia Ice Cream were also fantastic.

Sadly, though, I am sure this appliance will take a back seat once the cold weather arrives. But for now, my entire family is enjoying its “newness” and the benefits that go with that.

No affiliation with KitchenAid. It is just that their Cobalt is my kitchen color.


National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day


A comfort food for all ages.

Grilled cheese sandwich – an original comfort food – is one of those things that bring memories…

Grilled cheese and tomato soup – who hasn’t had that one? Though chicken noodle will do.

It is the only time I have cheese on my sandwich; after all it is the “meat” of the sandwich.

It is the only time I eat American Cheese.

I like my grilled cheese classic – two slices of bread, a slice of cheese, a bit of mayo inside, with butter on both sides. No tomatoes, no bacon, no extras. Just the plain classic, grilled golden – not dark – that it seems “soggy.” And the best is the one my husband makes for me…

It makes a perfect lunch, a descent dinner, and would even do for breakfast if you were so inclined.

I ask my son, Antonio, what he thinks of when I say “grilled cheese sandwich”?

  • Flipping it in the pan without the spatula – the flick of the wrist
  • Makes it with mayo and likes it likes them golden (my boy!).
  • Always makes two. Both of which are for him.
  • And, he thinks his grilled cheese sandwiches are the best in New Mexico – how modest.

I’m thinking of trying a new recipe…more for a grown-up? But these will take some forethought.

Grilled Tomato and Brie Sandwiches

What is your favorite grilled cheese memory/moment? Favorite recipe? Secret ingredient?