My Own No-Tahini Hummus Recipe

In an effort to keep up with the June Challenge of trying a new, healthy recipe each week, I made my own hummus today.  I had no tahini, which evidently is a staple in a hummus recipe, so I had to wing it.  Trial and error, right?  How else are we to learn?

I am quite proud of how this turned out.  It’s very good, and garlicky, so my clients today will love me, since I couldn’t resist eating it for breakfast.

Here is the recipe:

1 can garbanzo beans drained (reserve liquid for later) (optional)
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp or a bit more to taste of cumin
1 tsp of salt or a bit more to taste
Juice of half of lemon
1 tablespoon of sesame oil (I didn’t use the whole tablespoon – I just slowly poured it in until I got the consistency I wanted)  (olive oil will work, as well)

Put all ingredients in the blender and pulse adding the reserved liquid (or more oil) until desired consistency.  Periodically scrape down sides to make sure all is blended.  If needed, add more salt or cumin to taste.


PS:  I was trying to get creative with the pictures, but as usual, they look a bit contrived.  I’ve previously stressed how my photography skills are not the best, but I get points for trying to make it all look really yummy, right?

The June Challenge!

Happy June!  Can you believe it’s time for a new challenge?  I’ve been thinking, and because summer is upon us, why not try eating a bit healthier (which we should be doing anyway…)?  It’s hard, I know, with kids home, and routines are now jumbled but life must still go on as if none of these changes happened.  Ugh.  So let’s be creative and try one new HEALTHY recipe a week.  Here is one recipe to get you started on your challenge for June and you will not be disappointed. It’s easy, has only a few ingredients, and even the kids can help put this one together. You can tweak the recipe a bit to add fun sprinkles, etc.  Guaranteed they are going to love it, so you many need to double the batch!

I made these today.  It took approximately 10 minutes, if that long.  It was fast and easy, and, because of that, I was skeptical; and then I tasted one.  O.M.G.  They are amazing.  I mean they are so full of flavor, good-for-you ingredients, and NO BAKING.

How do people eat just one?  I’m hoping there will be at least one left for my husband to try. He’s such a good sport.  I am constantly making him try all of my guinea-pig recipes and he’s willing to be the taste-tester.  I don’t think he’s been disappointed…yet.  There are zillions more I need to try…so many recipes, so little time.  I think Greg may need to do some research and find a recipe for me.  Of course, there are stipulations.  Rules.  Guidelines.  All of which he must follow while picking out the recipe.  One day, I want to be the guinea pig.  Hmmm…honey, are you reading this? :)

So back to the cookie bites.  Honestly, it took longer to clean the food processor than it did to actually put this together.  I found the recipe from this blog, which hasn’t let me down yet.  I followed this recipe exactly, with exception of the amount of chocolate chips.  1/4 cup seemed way too many chips for the little ball of dough the recipe created, so I used 2 tablespoons and it was enough.  The recipe yielded about 15 cookies for me and now there are 12 left (I’m not too happy about that at this moment – it’s only 7:53am).  They were small bites with big flavor.

I hope you try these!


Book Club Night

I love book club nights.  Recently, it was my turn to host the book club meeting.  I had already read the book, so that part was done.  Now the food planning and prep comes into play.  I want to be health-conscious and try some interesting recipes.  Some work, some don’t.  And these poor ladies were the guinea pigs!

This week I tried my hand at a quiche for the first time.  It was adapted from this blog and then I added my own little twist.   My version of the quiche resulted in this final product.  I must say it was good.  I wish it were a little thicker, but I didn’t want the added calories!

My version of the recipe:

6 egg whites
2 whole eggs
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ pepper
Pinch of salt
¼ cups Parmesan cheese – grated
A small handful of Gruyere cheese – shredded
2 cups asparagus cut into thin diagonal slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray quiche pan or pie plate.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into greased pan.  Bake approximately 45-55 minutes. Cut into 8 slices.  Approximately 65 calories per slice.  Incredible.

QuicheThis quiche is not a deep dish, thick pie, so keep checking it after 35 minutes of cooking time to make sure you don’t overcook it.  The sides will pull away from the pan and the center should not be runny.  Use a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.

Just imagine the possibilities with this basic recipe.  You can use egg substitute, add different veggies, and different cheeses or spices.  Play with it and don’t feel guilty if you eat more than one slice!


LasagnaIn addition to the quiche, I made this lasagna recipe exactly as it called for, except for the cooking time.  I made sure I rearranged my schedule in order to get home to turn on the crockpot for the 3-hour cook time.  After 2 hours the lasagna seriously started smelling really done, so I turned the crockpot to warm and let it sit until we were ready.  The lasagna was ok.  It needed more puree and I just didn’t have enough.  It was embarrassing hearing my book club ladies crunch on the part of the noodles that didn’t get the puree.  I’m surprised one of them didn’t lose a tooth chewing it!  They were very kind about it and kept eating, and pretended I couldn’t hear.  Love these ladies.

My dessert was very low fat and delicious.  It came from here.  And, stupidly, I forgot to take a picture of it.  I am mad at myself for that.  But, I will definitely make these again.  DessertSuper easy, super good, and super cute!  I’m stealing the picture from the blog.  My recipe version used the Whole Foods angel food cake, toothpicks for smaller kebobs, and I melted a ¼ cup of dark chocolate chips to drizzle.  Enjoy!

Such a great night with great ladies discussing a crazy book – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (every book club needs to read this one) – it totally made my week.  Looking forward to next month!

Baked Avocado Egg

This was amazing.  Alright, I will admit I was a bit skeptical when I first saw this recipe.  My first thought was ewww runny egg whites, because they can’t possibly cook through, but I was dead wrong.  It’s so easy.  I got the basic recipe idea from this blog, Apron Strings, but I added my own twist to the toppings.

Here’s what I did:

Pre-heat oven to 400, put a lightly-sprayed ramekin in oven to warm.  Slice an avocado in half, and cut a grid in the half of avocado (be sure not to cut through the skin).  In the center dig the hole just a bit bigger to hold the whole egg, and crack an egg into the center.  Add salt, pepper, just a teaspoon or so of breadcrumbs, and a bit of dairy-free cheese on top.  Be careful when putting avocado in the ramekin (make sure egg doesn’t spill and that you don’t burn yourself on the heated ramekin!).  Let bake for 15 minutes or until egg is cooked through (I despise runny egg whites so I kept checking after 12 minutes to make sure it was all cooked).

Seriously, good stuff.  And really, very healthy.  Lots of protein, healthy fats, and good-for-you calories.  Try it for dinner!





How about some terminology?

knowledge-is-power-41Strength is the maximal force a muscle group can generate.  Power is the rate of performing work.  Power = force x distance/time.  Muscular endurance is the capacity to sustain repeated muscle actions or a single static contraction over time.  Aerobic power is defined as the rate of energy release by cellular metabolic processes that depend upon the availability and involvement of oxygen.  Anaerobic power is the rate of energy release by cellular metabolic processes that function without the involvement of oxygen.  Principle of specificity is exercise adaptations that are specific to the mode and intensity of training.  Principle of reversibility is “use it or lose it.”  Principle of progressive overload is systematically increasing the demands on the body as it adapts to training at a given volume and intensity.  Hypertrophy is the increase in muscle size.  Atrophy is the decrease in muscle size.  Concentric contraction is the shortening of a muscle and the muscle’s principal action.  Eccentric contraction is the lengthening of a muscle while exerting force.

Tired, yet?  Here’s more.

Metabolism is defined as all of the chemical reactions in the body.  Kilocalorie is the measurement of the amount of energy released in a biological reaction.  Carbohydrate is an organic compound formed from carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; includes starches, sugars and cellulose.  It has 4.1 kilocalories per gram (kcal/g).  Fat is the class of organic compounds with limited water solubility that exists in the body in many forms, such as triglycerides, free fatty acids, phospholipids, and steroids.  It has 9.4 kcal/g.  Protein is a class of nitrogen-containing compounds formed by amino acids.  A protein yields 4.1 kcal/g.

Bored?  Probably, but you are now in the know.  Knowledge is power.

Kenney, W. Larry, Wilmore, Jack H., and Costill, David L. (2012). Physiology of sport and exercise.  (5th ed.).  Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics.

Why Exercise?

ExerciseAs a personal trainer, I’ve been asked this question many times.   Some of my clients have stated they don’t need to lose weight (true for some) and they feel fine (true, again), so why the need to exercise?  Well, hold on to your hat, because I’m going to explain the physiological benefits of exercise.

Exercise is not just for losing weight.  It’s for heart health, lung health, and mind health.  Exercise will help improve blood flow to the heart and make it stronger.  A stronger heart allows the heart to work harder with less exertion, thus creating a lower resting heart rate.  All of this helps to decrease the risks of heart disease.  Regular physical activity helps to maintain hormonal balance, regulates insulin levels, and delivers oxygen to the body.  Further, it will decrease cholesterol build-up in the blood and help stave off coronary artery disease.  Exercise also helps increase the amount of oxygen the lungs can process, which increases the amount of oxygen for the rest of the body.  All of the above increases metabolic rate and energy levels.  And because of the higher energy levels, your mental health will improve and your stress level will decrease.  You’ll have energy to have fun, play with the kids, walk the dogs, go to the gym, or just hang out and enjoy life.

And that is why you should exercise.

Timing is Everything

Timing is EverythingIt’s what I’ve said all along, eat your heavier meals earlier in the day and eat mostly veggies and a lean protein for your later meal.   Think about lightening carbohydrate intake at night. Get those carbs from your veggies at dinner, and if you need a snack before bedtime, make sure it’s a protein-only snack.  Some plain low-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, or a few nuts are some good examples.

The study from the International Journal of Obesity,, shows that participants who ate earlier in the day lost significantly more weight than those who ate later in the day.

Again, I will stress that WHAT and HOW MUCH you’re eating is important.  Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.  Control your portions.  Make sure you know how much you’re eating.

And, move.  Exercise.  Walk, dance, play.  It’s important for your health and mind.

Cauliflower Alfredo

So, most of you know, I’m not a cook.  I’ve set the smoke alarm off just boiling water!  True story.  But, I’m experimenting in the kitchen and having fun with it.  If I knew it was as much fun as it is, I would have started experimenting with cooking long ago.

My latest experiment is with cauliflower.  I wanted to make a sauce, and I’ve always heard about an alfredo made with cauliflower (and I just so happened to have some) so I decided to try it.

I looked online for a “base” sauce to start and then I just experimented with my own additions or subtractions.  The “base” came from here:

Here’s what I did:

My Cauliflower Alfredo

In a medium saucepan, I put two teaspoons of olive oil to warm, add 3 cloves of garlic and gently sauté, add the cauliflower and water, just enough to cover the cauliflower.  I added red pepper flakes (generous because I like spice), Italian seasonings, salt and pepper.  Let cook until cauliflower is tender.

Use an immersion blender and start blending in the pan.  Once blended, I added one heaping tablespoon of Greek yogurt, seasoned a bit more, and then added one tablespoon of Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese.  Keep blending and let it come just to a boil.  If your sauce is still really runny (which mine was because I added way too much water), then cheat with a little thickener (flour or cornstarch and water (Bobby Flay is now having a coronary)).  You won’t need much, just about two teaspoons is what I added, to thicken the sauce.  Just remember to mix the flour or cornstarch with cold water before adding it to the sauce, or it will clump up.

After you reach a thick consistency, pour it over warm pasta (my favorite is De Boles Organic Oat Bran Spaghetti Style Pasta).  Top with a light sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or nutritional yeast.  I topped mine with black beans for an added protein boost.

Ok…this was good.


2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 container of cauliflower (already cut up from Whole Foods because I’m lazy, you could use one head)
Enough water to cover cauliflower (you could also use broth)vbsd
1 tsp of red pepper flakes (I used 2)
2 tsp of Italian seasonings
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 heaping tablespoon of Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of Parmigiano Reggiano

Optional ingredients:

Nutritional yeast
Black beans

Check out the pictures
PS:  I’m not a photographer, either.


Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce over De Boles pasta

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce over De Boles pasta

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce over De Boles pasta with black beans

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce over De Boles pasta with black beans