Around the globe, today marks a day of celebration as well as self-examination. Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday is the eve of Lent, when most Christians consider what they should repent for the next 40 days — while enjoying the last bit of decadence.
In Italy, as in many other countries, Shove Tuesday celebrations include live music, dance, delicacies and a Masquerade or Carnivale, the name deriving from the words carne levare, or “take away meat.” For those who observe Lent strictly, liturgical fasting can mean going completely vegan – no meat, dairy products or eggs.
Popular pre-Lent meals are pancakes, crepes and doughnuts, since they’re a convenient a way to finish eggs, sugar, butter, and other rich ingredients that may be on hand.
So, to celebrate in my home, I’m going to make my Sweet Potato Pancakes. While they may not be truly over-the-top decadent, they certainly taste that way!
Here’s to willpower, until Easter!
¾ cup/3 oz. all-purpose flour
¾ cup/3 oz. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups/12 oz. mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups skim milk
Oil or butter for cooking the pancakes
Maple syrup or honey for serving
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sweet potatoes, eggs and milk. Add dry ingredients to the wet ones, stirring just until combined. Batter will be thick.
Heat a griddle or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add a small amount of oil or butter to just coat the surface. Drop ¼ cup of batter onto the pan, spreading to 3” diameter if needed. Cook for about 2 minutes per side or until golden on both sides and cooked through.
Pancakes can be held on a baking tray in a 200°F oven as the remaining ones are cooked.
Yield: 6 servings (18 – 3” pancakes)
Time: 40 minutes
Nutrient information per pancake: Calories – 60, Total Fat – 0.5, Cholesterol 25 mg, Sodium – 310 mg, Total Carbohydrate – 12 g, Fiber – 1 g, Sugars – 2 g, Protein – 3 g, Vitamin A – 60%, Calcium – 10%
In my two decades of private practice, my clients who’ve been most successful losing weight and keeping it off were those who incorporated flavor and variety into their diet. It sounds trite, but it’s true; preparing meals that are satisfying, have eye-appeal and don’t seem like “diet food,” make healthy eating enjoyable. After all, if you take the joy away from mealtime, what’s left?
It’s so simple to whip up delicious, nutritious, creative sandwiches, and I do so with Jerry Penacoli on Daytime. If you’re inspired by my segment, here are fourteen different sandwich fillings to try. (Yes! That’s enough combos for two weeks!) Vary the bread, and you’ll have even more options!
I also like to toast my sandwiches or use a panini press, since melted cheese can be a more powerful flavor than cheese alone. Here’s the food science nugget that explains why: Heat brings out the umami flavor of cheese, making it more savory and delicious.
I go to the grocery store every single day.
At any point during a 24-hour period, I can be found making my way through the aisles, looking for various ingredients or supplies. It’s not as though my pantry is empty; it’s fully stocked for recipe testing, client projects and TV segments, but I like my produce fresh, my fruit firm and my bread fragrant (warm is a bonus).
While cooking is both my livelihood and an indelible part of my lifestyle, there are days when the thought of going to the store is about as appealing as sleeping in an igloo wearing a bathing suit.
Some days, I just want to stay in, cook simply and savor comfort food that doesn’t have to be washed, peeled, chopped and cooked.
To the rescue come my baked eggs, which I usually make with frozen spinach and canned beans. The recipe could not be simpler. Served with a green salad dressed with olive oil and a glass of wine, you have a complete and nutritious meal that’s absolutely delicious.
Of course, I’ll look forward to hearing what you think!
Yield: 2 servings
Time: 25 minutes
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 cup/4 oz. onions
1 cup/2 oz. roughly chopped mushrooms
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 cup/4 oz. chickpeas
1 cup/6 oz. roughly chopped tomatoes
2 cups/2 oz. spinach
1 oz. shredded sharp cheddar, optional
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat a small sauté pan (about 6”) over medium heat. Add the oil and onions, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and chickpeas and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and spinach. Season again with salt and pepper then cover the pan to wilt the spinach and soften the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir and taste. Adjust the seasoning. Crack the eggs on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cheese, if using. Place in the oven until the egg is cooked to desired doneness (8 minutes should achieve a set white and runny yolk) and the cheese is melted. Divide between two plates and serve with multigrain toast.
This recipe can easily be doubled to make 4 servings, just use a slightly larger pan.
February is American Heart Month, so it’s fitting I dedicate this post to heart health — a very important topic, and one that’s relevant at every age.
Adopting healthier habits should start as soon as possible, but if you feel that your lifestyle could use a tweak, there’s no time like the present. Science has shown that, simply enough, eating right and staying active can benefit your heart health.
It’s true that getting started can be overwhelming. Do you begin by adopting an exercise regimen, going vegan or doing more cardio? It doesn’t have to be a big change, and I always suggest that my clients start with simple dietary changes that can go a long way in boosting heart health.
While most heart-healthy diets focus on reducing consumption of high-fat and high-sodium foods, what you add to your diet can be just as important. Purple foods, in particular, can be a great way to support a healthy heart. That’s because purple foods provide phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, naturally occurring polyphenols not found in many other colors of fruit. Interestingly, only three percent of total fruit and vegetables eaten are from the purple-blue category.
To begin your heart-smart diet, try eating five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, and make sure some of your produce is purple! Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Eggplant: The deep, rich color of this vegetable comes from anthocyanins. Try grilling eggplant slices with a bit of olive oil for great flavor without lots of fat or calories.
Purple 100% (Concord) Grape Juice: This beverage provides polyphenols, like anthocyanins, which, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, play a role in heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels. And, many of the polyphenols (plant nutrients) found in dark-purple Concord grapes are the same as those found in red wine, and research suggests that 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes helps support a healthy heart. Just four ounces of 100% juice count as one serving of fruit. I’ve worked with Welch’s, and since learning more about the science behind Concord grapes, I make one serving of 100% grape juice part of every day.
Purple Onions: Read this and weep! The nutrients in onions have been shown to maintain healthy blood lipids and blood pressure. Grill red or purple onions with asparagus then drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Purple Cabbage: The vitamin and mineral content in this type of cabbage is significant, and its anthocyanin content makes it heart-healthy. For a tasty side dish, sauté purple cabbage with onions in olive oil.
No time to cook? No problem. Try these five, purple-packed suggestions, to get you through the day:
Self-improvement is the American way, so it’s no surprise that 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. While the most popular, health-centric resolution is to lose weight, research from the University of Scranton suggests only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals – no matter what they are.
If you’re one of those individuals making a list of things you want to change in 2014 – keep it simple and be realistic! For my no-fail secrets to achieving your New Year’s goals, don’t miss my eye-opening blog post http://www.driscolls.com/community/blog/healthy-3pm-snacking.
If you’ve resolved to eat healthier or just amp up the nutrition in your meals, check out my new cookbook, The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook. No matter how large or small your family, everyone will find delicious, healthy recipes to call their “favorite.” The book is filled with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes – plus tips, hints and inspiration – to help you achieve a slimmer, trimmer you in 2014!
For those who have terrific willpower until the afternoon – when cravings strike for sweet or salty snacks – don’t miss my five, new videos about beating that 3 p.m. snack attack!
Last, but not least, if you need daily motivation, connect with me on Twitter. I’m always happy to answer your burning nutrition questions.
Happy, healthy New Year!