Archive for the ‘YBFB Test Kitchen’

YBFB SPAGHETTI SAUCE REPORT: Read Ingredients to Be the Master of Your Marinara

ragu_light_no_sugar_added_tomato_and_basilBefore you whip up your next Italian masterpiece, make sure to read the nutrition label on that marinara. Sauces can be filled with un-touched tomatoes and fresh basil, or they can filled with not-so-good-for-you things like corn syrup and added sugar—some pack as much sugar as a half-can of Coke. Of course, sauces labeled “low carb” or “no sugar added” are often sweetened with artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda), which have been shown to up your chance of weight gain.

So before you twist the top off another bottle, flip it around and check out the ingredient list. In general, a good store-bought tomato sauce should only have ingredients you can recognize and pronounce—i.e., tomatoes, basil, olive oil, etc., the shorter the laundry list of ingredients, the better—and should never, ever say “corn syrup or sugar” or start with an ingredient other than tomatoes. In general, reach for sauces that are no more than 70 calories per half cup.

Want to make your red-sauce dishes healthier? Check out this quick roundup. Continue Reading →

YBFB Test Kitchen: Super-Simple Balsamic and Feta Edamame

chapter8_kitchenwebI put this dish together a few weeks ago and now I cannot get enough of it. I love frozen edamame beans because they’re packed with protein and fiber—a half-cup serving has 120 calories, 8 grams of carbs (5 of which are fiber), and 10 grams of protein.

Whip this up as a simple side dish for you and your BFB (just be prepared that you may have to explain that even though they look suspiciously like lima beans, they’re actually soybeans) or as a quick, energy-packed meal for one. And consider keeping a package of these in his freezer for moments when he’s nuking the hot dogs he hasn’t kept wrapped in his fridge or reaching for takeout menus. Continue Reading →

YBFB Test Kitchen: Super-Good, Totally Guilt-Free Cole Slaw

picture-1Summer is synonymous with BBQs and picnics—and all of the mayo-heavy salads that tend to go with them! But take away the pudge-inducing dressing, and cole slaw, one of the most commonly consumed sides, is actually a nutritional superstar.

That’s because cole slaw’s base is cabbage, a power-packed cruciferous veggie that’s been shown to do everything from protect cells from damaging free radicals to lower the risk of cancer—even better than fruits and other veggies, as the phytonutrients in cruciferous kinds (others include broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), work on a deeper cellular level. In fact, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that men who had 28 servings of veggies a week had a 35 percent lower chance of developing prostate cancer, but guys who consumed just three or more servings of cruciferous veggies each week had a 44 percent lower risk of developing the disease. And cabbage is also packed with vitamins K, C, and A!

So if you or your BFB loves that BBQ and cole slaw, whip up this guilt-free version. Not only does it taste good, but it’s amazingly good for you, too!

Super-Good, Totally Guilt-Free Cole Slaw

1 14-ounce bag of pre-shredded cole slaw mix (You’ll find it with the bagged lettuce!)
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free mayo
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tsp. horseradish (optional)
1 Tsp. sugar or 1 package stevia, or to taste
2 Tbsp. milk or water
Salt and pepper to taste

Milk all ingredients in large bowl. Serve immediately or chill.


YBFB Test Kitchen: Super-Simple Cucumber and Feta Salad

800px-kurkkujaI have been addicted to cucumbers lately! I can’t seem to get enough of them and luckily, this is one food it’s okay to crave: They’re tasty, refreshing, and so good for you! The flesh of a cucumber contains vitamin C and is also full of water, so slicing a few over a salad after a summer run for a helpful, hydrating boost is a great way to get some fluid back into you. And the skin is also a good source of silica, the mineral necessary for collagen production, which will help keep your skin glowing all summer long. Oh, and did I mention one cup is only 13 calories?

Slice them solo and sprinkle with a bit of ground sea salt, or whip up this Super-Simple Cucumber and Feta Salad the next time you fire up the grill. It goes good with anything—burgers, chicken, steak—and it’s so yummy your BFB won’t even miss the carb-loaded baked potato! Enjoy! Continue Reading →

Memorial Day Diet Tips and Better-for-You Burgers

623px-american_flag_and_washington_monumentThe kick-start of summer is officially here, which means a weekend full of backyard barbecues, days at the beach, and extra nights out at the bar. And although you should embrace every second of your three-day weekend and soak up as much sun as possible (wearing your SPF, of course!), you’ll want to find a happy medium where you can enjoy your vacay but not wind up regretting it. Because not only does warmer weather mean shorter shorts and tiny tank tops, but eating too many calories in one sitting has been shown to disrput matebolism and lead to more binges later, even if you don’t gain weight from your mega meal.

Of course, there are tons of great ways to enjoy your holiday without going overboard! Get out there and take a jog on the beach, go for a hike, toss a baseball with your guy in the backyard, or scorch mega-calories on the dance floor. And if you’re firing up the grill, throw together this super-simple and oh-so-yummy burger recipe. Not only will everyone love it—picky BFBs included!— but you’ll also deliver a shot of heart-healthy fiber in the oats and sneak some goodness into your anti-veggie boy.

Happy summer! Continue Reading →

A Simple Way to Score Protein at Supper This Spring

chickenThe sunny days of spring call for lighter, won’t-weigh-you-down dinners. Food that will fill you up, but also leave room for an after-dinner bowl of strawberries or a breeze-filled walk. One of the easiest ways to get your protein without investing too much time slaving over the stove: boiled chicken. It’s so easy to cook that even the least-skillful of chefs can do it, and, once it’s cooked, you can do everything from turn it into a low-fat chicken salad (try mixing with honey mustard or low-fat Greek yogurt!) to break it up over a tossed salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Even better? If you simmer it on a Sunday, most of your work is done for the week and when you come home from work you won’t even think about your drawer full of takeout menus or those sadly unfulfilling frozen “meals” stashed in your freezer.

To cook: Take a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts (free-range chicken is best, as it’s not filled with hormones), rinse under cool tap water, and place in a pot. Fill with water until the chicken is covered. If you have it, you can also add an onion (peel, cut in half, and toss it into the pot) or a few stalks of clean celery. Season water with salt and pepper. Heat until it comes to a boil. Allow chicken to simmer until done, about an hour, or until it breaks apart easily with a fork. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store chicken breasts in an air-tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.


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Yummy (and Super-Good-for-You!) Black-Bean Salsa

blackbeansCelebrate Cinco de Mayo with your sweetheart by whipping up this oh-so-yummy and super-good-for-you black-bean salsa. Why’s it so amazing (besides tasting awesome)? Black beans are nutritional superstars. They’re packed with protein and full of fiber—one half-cup serving has 1/5 of your daily fiber needs and only 100 calories—which means they digest more slowly than other carbohydrates and give you energy while keeping blood sugar levels stable.

Black beans are also a top source for molybdenum, a trace mineral that helps detoxify the body, and they can up your energy by replenishing your iron stores, a mineral that’s commonly low in veggie lovers that avoid iron-rich red meat, and in young women, who lose iron monthly thanks to their period. One cup contains 20 percent of your daily iron needs.

Research also shows black beans have as much antioxidant power as grapes and cranberries, and they’re also amazing for your heart. Studies show they do everything from lower cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart attacks in men.

Even better? It’s packed with other great-for-you veggies and only takes a few minutes to whip up! Yum!

Yummy (and Super-Good-for-You!) Black-Bean Salsa
Serves 4 to 6

2 cups canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen dethawed corn (optional)
1 tomato, diced
1/2 purple onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Juice from one lime
One handful of cilantro, chopped
One handful of parsley, chopped
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Adjust spices according to taste. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.


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Frozen Grapes: A Healthy, Sweet Treat for Ice-Cream Lovers

grapesIf your love of frozen desserts—ice cream, popsicles, milkshakes—spikes with the temperature, stocking your freezer with a sweet, icy alternative is a must. Frozen grapes are the perfect guilt-free fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth. Just rinse off a bunch, drain well, pluck off the vine, toss in a Ziploc bag or plastic container, and put them in the freezer.

Not only are they a delicious treat, but grapes are also an excellent source of manganese, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar, protect your cells from damaging free radicals, and helps keeps bones strong. They’re also full of vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin C.

And though any grape is a better option than ice cream, if you love the taste of both red and green grapes equally, opt for red varieties. They contain more of the good-for-you compounds called flavonoids, phytonutrients that give them their beautiful, deep color—and which have also been shown to strengthen heart muscles, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, lower cholesterol, and increase blood flow to the brain, thus greatly reducing the risk of stroke. And the skins and seeds of red grapes contain compounds that have been shown to reduce the size of estrogen-dependent breast cancer tumors.

So the next time you see a sale at the store, stock up on these good-for-you-globes—and when that ice cream truck starts circling the block, suck on a few of these sweet treats instead. Not a frozen fan? Toss a few on your salad or snack on them straight off the vine.

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Wholly Guacamole: A 100-Calorie Pack Worth Eating

Most 100-calorie packs offer nothing but a few bites of refined carbs, zero nutrients—and a somewhat duped feeling that you not only ate 100 calories that didn’t feel like 100 calories, but that you’re still kind of wishing for the real thing.

But Wholly Gaucamole is a 100-calorie pack I can get behind—and one that your BFB might actually raise his eyebrows at in curiosity (which means he may, in fact, try it—which means you may, in fact, want to buy more than a single pack!) It’s chock-full of the super-heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (which, as I chatted about here, is oh-so-important!), and will help hold you over till your next meal. It’s also high in vitamin E, magnesium and folic acid, and has four grams of fiber per yummy serving!

So toss a pack in your work bag with some veggies for a mid-afternoon snack, spread it on a sandwich in place of mayo—boys love it on burgers—or put it out for your guy as a healthier chip dip. Continue Reading →

BFB Test Kitchen: Chocolate “Magic” Cake

The next time you decide to bake for your boy, whip up this super-simple, way-better-for-you chocolate cake. My editor, Sarah, was so excited about it that she emailed me the recipe today. Here’s what she had to say!

I’ve been baking chocolate cakes with just a can of pumpkin. Nothing else. All you have to do is mix one can of pumpkin (15 oz.) with a chocolate cake mix and bake. No eggs, no oil, nothing. You can’t even taste the pumpkin and it’s super-healthy for you since pumpkin is so good for you. I throw some lowfat Cool Whip on it when it comes out of the oven warm and it tastes fantastic. (You may have to bake it a bit longer than normal since the pumpkin is so moist.) I nicknamed the cake “magic cake.” LOL

Sarah’s right. Pumpkin is incredibly good for you. It’s packed with potassium (which has been shown to help lower blood pressure), beta-carotene (which may help reduce the risk of colon cancer and do a host of other helpful things, like fight inflammation in the body) and folate (which helps prevent birth defects if taken before and during pregnancy).

Not only am I dying to try this, but I’m wondering if it will work in vanilla cake mix or in coffee cake, too! Thanks, Sarah!

Do you have a great way to sneak nutrition into your BFB or cut calories from your favorite dessert?? Let me know! Email me at