I’ve Moved!


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While I am still blogging, I am doing it over on my website: ShelleyRael.com


Updated every Tuesday, and sometimes more often, you can find updates to these articles and new ones.

Thanks for visiting!






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?


How many calories am I eating?


Keep a food diary to know how many calories you eat.

I often get this question from people, and it is very difficult to not give a sarcastic response – but I refrain. I also get the question(s) such as, “How many calories in biscotti?” or “How many calories in that sandwich?”  I have to answer with “did you look at the package label?” or “it depends…” Because if there is cheese, mayo, or the burger is bigger than usual, it can change the calorie level much.

While I, like many dietitians, do know the calorie amounts in more foods than the average consumer, and I am intimate with the calories amounts in the foods that I eat (tall skinny mocha = 170 calories), I am not the USDA Food and Nutrient Database.

I know that peanut butter is 190 calories in 2 tablespoons, and a 12 ounce soda is around 150 calories. Things that I teach with regularly, I have become accustomed to their calorie levels. I have to look up the calorie amount in a Big Mac or a Whopper – since I don’t eat it regularly. Well, I must admit I have never had a Big Mac and I think the last time I ate a Whopper the year had two “9’s” and two “1’s” in it.

But I do know how many calories I eat on most days and I urge others to know that too, especially if they want to meet and keep up a healthy weight.

How do I know how many calories I eat daily? I keep a food diary, nearly every day. Years ago I had a program on my Palm Pilot that helped me and even tracked my food intake while in Disney World. I kept track of my food intake for more than three years, which helped me both lose weight and maintain it. Today I use a computer based program, since the program I once used no longer exists and my Palm is obsolete.


  • Keep it throughout the day. Don’t wait until the end of the day to record your food intake. It is easier to forget things and if you enter you food intake at the end of the day, you might realize too late that you had 200-500 extra calories.
  • Record what, how much and the calories. What food, how much of it and how many calories. You can look at fat, carbs, protein, sodium, etc., but don’t get too bogged down in the details when you are starting out.
  • Measure for a few days or a week. Don’t assume you are eating one cup of cereal or a tablespoon of creamer, measure it. After you measure your food a few times, you will recognize what one cup or one tablespoon looks like.
  • Read food labels (if it has one) and make sure it matches your intake. A client was eating 300 calorie tortillas, but in her computer program they listed tortillas at 140 calories. For each tortilla she ate, she needed to enter it as 2.15 tortillas to match the calories, otherwise she would be recording 160 less than what she was consuming.
  • Keep it in whatever format you would like – handheld notebook, computer program, or an App on your smart phone – just keep one.

Why do I recommend this? If you don’t know how many calories you are eating on a regular basis, then how to you know if you are on track? An extra 100 calories every single day this year can lead to an extra 10 pounds by this time next year.

There are many applications where you can get nutrition information or keep a food diary:

On the computer:

Apps for your phone (I don’t own a smart phone so have only heard about these).

  • Lose It!
  • Calorie Tracker from Livestrong.com
  • The Carrot



What is the truth about your diet?


From ConsumerReports.org/health

What the CR Health Poll reaveals about eating healthy.

Do you think you have a healthy diet? According to a Consumer Reports poll, most American’s think they do. But what people say compared to what is reality is another story.

In general the survey found nearly 90% of the responders describe their diet as healthy. But at the same time, several responders were in a higher weight class than they though. Meaning they thought they were normal or overweight when they were really overweight or obese. Hmmm…something is up if despite eating healthy, they are still weight issues.

As for real eating habits…

Those polled were asked more about their diet; this is what they said.

  • A majority (78%) of those surveyed eat breakfast. Apparently Cheerios is doing something right, since it was the number one cold breakfast cereal named. As long as they choose “original” yellow box and not the “honey,” frosted, chocolate ones, Cheerios can make a healthy breakfast. Just add some fruit too. But have eggs, a smoothie, or yogurt with your fruit too. You don’t have to eat cereal.
  • People are still sucking down sugared drinks regularly. That would be daily. Even the people who are trying to eat healthy. A sugar sweetened soda really has no place in the diet. Well, maybe if you add rum or whiskey. But really this is one of the first things I tell people they could do to cut calories and make their diet healthier: cut out the soda. No nutrients and all sugar.
  • And finally, fruits and vegetables! Despite having some of the strongest evidence with these (mostly) low-calorie and high nutrient foods are not only good for you, but practically essential for healthy life, people just aren’t eating enough of them, if any. But they think they are. Lettuce and tomatoes are the top two vegetables… I wonder if it was on their burger.

How healthy to you consider your diet?

  • Do you eat breakfast? What do you eat? Coffee isn’t breakfast, it goes with breakfast.
  • Do you drink sugar sweetened beverages? How often and how much?
  • Do you eat your fruits and vegetables? Do you eat enough of them?

In general I consider my diet is healthy overall – though when it isn’t perfect, people are shocked. I’m a dietitian, not a robot. I eat breakfast daily which varies depending on the time of year. Right now, I am have Chobani Greek yogurt with fruit and stir in my homemade granola which has nuts, flax and chia seeds.  For the most part I don’t drink sugar sweetened beverages (I like a little sweetener in my coffee, but I can’t recall the last time I had a regular soda.) And finally, I work every day to get all my fruits and vegetables. I’m not perfect, but they are a part of every single lunch and dinner.

Note: the CR poll surveyed a sample of 1,234 adults about their habits. It was a nationwide sample. Sampling about 1,200 of the over 310 billion people (adults and children) in the U.S., I would normally think this was a ridiculously low percentage; however my job is to work with people to help them get to a healthier diet. The information obtained from the poll seems about right based on my experience. People think they eat healthier than they really do.

No affiliation with Chobani. I won a weeks worth of yogurt from them in a contest, but still have the coupons since I buy mine at Costco. I will cash in those coupons!


Working on Better Sleep Habits


from: free-pet-wallpapers.com

Do you have good sleep habits?

Today, January 3, is National Sleep Day. While many people returned to work for the first time since the New Year, some people got one more day to work on their sleep. I slept until 7:00 am today; my last day of Winter Break. Tomorrow I’m back to being an early riser.

One of my goals for 2011 is be in my room by 10:30 pm and be in bed by 11:00 pm. After I do this for at least 60 days, I plan to move that back by 30 minutes. I’m not sure how many people have going to bed earlier as part of their New Year goals, but I was not doing well with my sleep in 2010.

I get up early to exercise before work: around 4:45 am. After a full day of working and teaching, I would stay up late, sometimes past midnight, to get everything done. This habit is not healthy because like most people, my ideal sleep time is 7-9 hours sleep (research says it varies by person and age).

Have Better Sleep Habits

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are several things we can do to have better sleep:

  • Be Consistent: Have a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Relax: Plan the last hour before bed as relaxation time and wind down in your favorite way: warm bath, music, or a short yoga routine.
  • It is a BEDROOM, not an office: Ensure your bedroom is for bedroom activities only (sleep and sex)! This means no laptop, no TV, and turn off your phone.
  • Exercise regularly – but not in the 2-3 hours before bedtime. People tend to feel tired and skip exercise, but regular exercise helps with more restful sleep. A friend of mine, who needed sleep medication, stopped using it when she started exercising regularly.
  • Stop eating in the evening: Finish eating your evening meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. This isn’t a weight gain issue, but helps with restful sleep. If there is food in your stomach when you go to bed, it may lead to restless sleep.
  • Stop consuming caffeine near bedtime. How caffeine affects people varies; some people must stop consuming caffeine by noon, while others could still consume it at 4:00 – 5:00 pm. You know yourself best, so make sure you stop your caffeine intake appropriately.
  • Have your nightcap early: As much as many people like having a nightcap, consuming alcohol before bedtime, have yours with your evening meal, or shortly after. While alcohol can help people go to sleep, it is not a restful sleep.

I personally find the first two points the most difficult: the consistent schedule and relaxing the last hour. But this is what I am working on this year.

How are your sleep habits?


First Day of School Tradition: Ice Cream

Haagen Daz served up 3.6 oz/half cup servings.

Ever since my son started Kindergarten in July 1996 we have a tradition: on the first day of school we go for ice cream to talk about the day.

Ok, I know what you are thinking – “how cute!” or “July?” Yes, it was July since he went to a year-round school from K-5th grade.

The point is now that he is 19 (almost 20) and in college, we still did this last night. He started school yesterday, but we had a hard time with the “going out” for ice cream part. I had to go shopping for the week’s groceries, he was at the library, and by the time we met up after school and work it wasn’t the usual 3:30 – 4:00 pm of his childhood, but the 8:30 pm of his adulthood (sob).

So, being Mom I grabbed the ice cream at the grocery store. My usual peanut butter and chocolate and his usual chocolate chip cookie dough (some traditions must live).

I got him the pint of cookie dough and I got the cutest 3.6 ounce container of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. This is necessary! A 19-year-old can afford the calories of an entire pint of chocolate chip cookie dough (eaten in 2-3 sittings). Me – I can’t afford the entire pint of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. You see, I dig and dig for the semi-frozen peanut butter and just have to eat the chocolate ice cream to get to it. Evil stuff this ice cream can be! It has been listed as the “Worst Supermarket Ice Cream.” I am better off with this single ½ cup serving. Why? Because the 310 calories were gone and done over a nice discussion with my son about his first day of school and his plans for the rest of the semester. We did not discuss the calories of the ice cream (or the 21 g of fat or 9 g of saturated fat) because this was a one shot deal. I wouldn’t have to worry about the rest of the pint calling after me today worried about frostbite in the freezer. Nope the empty miniature container is on my desk at work showing everyone what self-control I had yesterday. I was able to spend EXTRA on a smaller container. I paid for self-control.

Until next year…and another first day of school. Perhaps we should start going out for ice cream at the beginning of every semester?