Hot meals that won’t break your calorie bank

As the weather cools and our stomachs ache for something warm, eating smarter is especially important. Aim for foods that fill you up without breaking your calorie bank. Here are two recipes to get you started.

Minestrone Surprise

(Recipe adopted from

Soups have the ability to keep us warm and to trick our bodies into thinking that we’ve eaten more than we were supposed to. Loaded with vegetables that provide exceptional vitamins rich in  A, K and C, this hot meal will be sure to make the effort worthwhile. With only 106 calories per serving, feel free to go back for seconds.

Prep and Cook Time: prep time: 20 minutes; cooking time 45 minutes


  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 6 medium sized cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced (to yield about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces (to yield about 1 cup)
  • 1-½ cups finely chopped kale
  • ½ cup diced portabello mushrooms, black gills cut out and discarded
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 TBS dried Italian herbs
  • 1 15 oz can navy beans, drained
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Prepare ingredients by chopping and measuring.
  2. Heat 1 TBS broth in medium soup pot. Healthy Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Add broth and rest of ingredients except beans and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce heat to low and continue cooking, uncovered for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add beans, cook for another couple minutes, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Serves 6

Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta

Recipe adopted from

Serotonin loss in the winter due to less light has usually gotten us scramming for quick-fix carbs to hit the spot. Defeat cravings before they happen and load up on whole grains and  first-rate butternut squash to properly satisfy you. It may seem like 373 calories is a lot for a serving, but the 10 g of fiber and 11 g of protein will be sure to tie you over til your next meal.

Serves 4


  • 8 oz whole-wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lb), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan


  1. Cook penne as directed on package. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sage, turning once, until crisp on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a paper towel. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 3 minutes. Add squash, 3/4 cup water, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash softens, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and add squash mixture; stir over low heat, adding some reserved cooking water if necessary, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Serve, garnished with cheese and sage.

Have your cake and eat it too!

Amanda Holst


Age Therapy: Foods that will make you look and feel younger

Before you spend hundreds of dollars at the cosmetic counters, or  enlist yourself in the Botox Brigade, try the au naturale approach to looking younger instead.


Yes wrinkles are part of the aging process- but you don’t have to give in without a fight. As the protein collagens start to break down, so do the hyaluronic acids (the connective tissue around your eyes, joints, and skin). To prolong this break, try to beef up the intake of fruits containing vitamin C. Vitamin C fights free radicals and encourages collagen to form. Strawberries, blueberries, and ones containing citrus works best at filling in wrinkles.

Mood lifters

There is nothing worse than feeling bad about anything, anytime. Happiness may be the key to life and also the key to staying younger, longer. Enhance your mood with foods that uplift the production of endorphins while at the same time help you to relax. The mood lifter avacado contains a high amount of vitamin B, while brazilian nuts contain selenium, the magic ingredient for mood enhancement. Flaxseeds are advocates for mood lifters because they contain omega- 3 fatty acids. People who have low levels of omega- 3’s are more successible to depression. Get the best benefit by grinding flaxseeds and adding them to oatmeal, baked foods, or atop your salad.

Radiant Skin

There are many factors to radiant skin. Foods that strengthen your immune system, that contain antioxidants, or reduce inflammation can all add to the radiant glow of your skin, making you look younger. Fight scaly skin with wheat germ- 2 tablespoons a day can prevent redness and uneven skin tones. If elasticity is a concern for you, try adding more kiwis to your diet- the vitamin C manufactures a collagen wall of resilience. If you have damaged skin due to sun exposure, grape seed oil can help reverse the signs.

Have your Cake and Eat it too!

Amanda Holst

5 No-Brainers to Weight Management


1) Give your body what it wants

Your cravings for sugar and salt may be what is preventing you from maintaining a healthy weight- moreover, it can be a sure-tell sign that you are experiencing deficiencies in magnesium, phosphorus, chromium or sodium, to name a few. If you consistently give your body the proper nutrition, then it won’t reach out for the quick fix. Control your cravings by eating sensible meals and keep your portions in check when you do succumb to a craving. Eat often and don’t beat yourself up if you slip up.

2)Don’t restrict yourself

We all know diets don’t work. If you’ve ever been on one you know that you eventually go back to our old ways. Instead of restricting yourself, maintain your diet by eating foods that are healthy and ones that promote a fit metabolism. Try negative calorie foods- foods that make the body burn more calories than the food itself. Asparagus, cauliflower, celery, grapefruit, tomato, and watermelon are just a few good examples. Allow yourself a treat once a week. Relax. Stop fighting with yourself and start living…moderation is key!

3) Be mindful

The easiest and most effective way to maintain your weight is to be mindful! Know what is going into your body, how much of it is going in and at all times. One of the most valuable tools you can have is a food diary. Snack often and wise. A scoop, a sample, and kiddie-size should become your new portion sizes. Control what goes in your cabinets and refrigerator and be willing to put energy in preparing food yourself. Eat slower. Stop eating just before you’re full. Stop making excuses and start working smarter, not harder.

4) Ask yourself why you are eating

The battle between who you are and who you want to be may be lying just below your body’s surface. We all crack under pressure and can admit to eating under one of the following emotional eating categories: Tiredness, stress, sadness or happiness. While we may be satisfying some sort of emotional void, let’s face it: emotional eating does nothing for your weight management. Find out what your food triggers are and learn techniques to keep them at bay. Rank your hunger on a scale from 1-10 before you eat. This will assign hunger to the amount of food you should be eating. It’s time to make your feelings and your eating habits separate from each other. The next time you are trying to tame an emotional eating craving, try taking a walk or tidying up your bathroom instead.

5)Eat low-energy dense food

Believe it or not you can cut calories while still controlling your hunger. This is no magic diet, it’s a concept called low-energy dense food. By eating whole grains, lean meat, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy you are giving yourself long-term success in maintaining your weight. These foods contain a higher water content, less fat, and more fiber- all things that give you the satisfaction of being full. Start putting this idea into action. Have a bowl of soup or salad before your meal. Add vegetables to your pastas, omelets, and pizza. Remember, water-rich is the key here, not poor in fat.


♦Eat Well                                                                                ♦Be Healthy                                                                       ♦Be Happy


Amanda Holst

Have your Cake and Eat it Too

How to Beat Holiday Guilt

So you’ve done it again: shoved your face with all your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and you are guilty of going back for seconds. Truth of the matter is you deserve to enjoy this once a year event.

So throw guilt out the window and try doing these things instead:

1) Eat more protein

Protein will fill you up longer than carbs or fat, which is a good thing -if you don’t go overboard. Slices of turkey can be the protein you need to get you back on track. Bring on the turkey salads and soups …Sick of turkey? Add a little more low-fat dairy products to your meals or beef up the whole wheat grains or beans- the idea is to stay fuller longer.

2) Drink more water

You may be mistaking hunger for thirst says clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller from Health Magazine. Drinking water keeps you hydrated and can ward off sluggishness, lack of energy and even depression. If you are having a hard remembering to drink carry a water bottle and replace with soft drinks as much as possible. If drinking water is too hard to bear, try drinking low-calorie flavored drinks or herbal tea to give you the satiety that you are craving- without all those extra calories.

3) Allow for Leftover splurges

What’s Thanksgiving without all the leftovers? Go ahead and splurge on your favorite leftover concoctions but only do so in moderation. Practicing correct portion sizes and self control can go a long way- and not just for the holidays.  If you absolutely live for the splurges then do so sensibly. Maintain control and have full realization that your splurges are a temporary thing. Allowing yourself the splurge will be better for your mental health in the long run.

4) Cut back on holiday drinks

If you seriously want to lose those extra pounds you usually carry around this time, then cutting alcohol, sodas, and yes, even the egg nog will make you drop poundage fast. Further more holiday drinks only make you more hunger and did I mention, there is no nutritional value in any of it? No worries because just like most holiday traditions, they are loved for only a short time a year- then they are packed away to enjoy again for the next.

5) Measure your portion sizes

It’s too easy to ‘go blind’ when measuring your temptations onto a plate that just doesn’t seem to hold everything. While counting calories seem to go out the window (The average Thanksgiving dinner is around 4500 calories) portion size can make a difference in getting you back on track. Now that you’re stomach has been stretched you will need to find tricks to hang in there while it shrinks to normal size. Eating your meals on smaller plates and go by the plate method: Divide you plate into quarters. Half your plate should be vegetables, a quarter should be for protein and a quarter for your starch. Lower your intake of butter, gravy and sweets and you should be back on track in no time!

Perspective by Amanda Holst

Have you Cake and Eat it Too!

Part 2: See what foods can put your woman in the mood

Last week we found out what foods increased your man’s sex drive; this week the ladies take center stage.

1) Chocolate

I would to oblivious to the topic if I did not mention this delectable word. The feelings of “love” that come from chocolate may come from its chemical called phenylethylamine.  Powerful antioxidants called flavonoids can be found dark chocolate companions and the alkaloid theobromine can keep up your woman’s stamina as it mimics the effects similar to caffeine.

2) Almonds

Almonds are loaded with protein thus giving a woman enough energy to stay revved up. The use of almond oil has been used since biblical times and links to overall good health, beauty, and sustenance are related to this nut. Almonds, an appeasing smell to women as well, can be found in some lotions and fragrances as well.

3) Asparagus

More popular as an aphrodisiac during the resurgent Renaissance era, asparagus gets more recognition these days as a classic libido booster. High levels of vitamin E are responsible for helping with the manufacturing of sex hormones. Asparagus has the ability to enhance the production of histamine, which enhances the O factor, because of the wealth of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin B6 that reside in its healthy stalks.

4) Chillies

If you can stand the heat, it’s worth conjuring up something up spicy with these in the kitchen. You can thank the kick of peppers to a compound called capsaicin.  Capsaicin triggers your brain to release endorphins and raises your heart rate, both good things for getting your woman in the mood!

5) Ginger

Probably one of the lesser known aphrodisiacs, fresh ginger is known as just that in the Kama Sutra. as an influential aphrodisiac. Offering magnesium, Vitamin C, and magnesium, ginger can heighten you libido. Also known to improve blood flow to the parts that matter and arousing the circulatory system, ginger makes a good ingredient to keep around the house.

Have your cake and eat it too! by Amanda Holst

Part 1 of a 2-part series: See what foods can put your man in the mood!

We’re all familiar with how food can play a role in turning us on. Guys are used to bringing us flowers and setting the mood with candlelight and music. Let’s return the favor by conjuring up something in the kitchen. See what food naturally turns on your man and why.


Oysters are synonymous with putting your man in the mood. Mostly in part due to the dopamine, a hormone that is know to increase libido, oysters are a natural aphrodisiac. High in protein and zinc, this food is sure to keep your man healthy and adding to his increased sex drive. To entice your man with oysters, try cooking them raw, smoked, baked, steamed or grilled.


The ingredient that gets your man going in this herby number is called allicin. Increasing blood flow to sexual organs couldn’t be easier. Find ways to incorporate garlic, infusing them in sauces or adding as flavoring to your dishes- you will see your payoffs in no time. If you are stuck on not wanting the taste or smell to linger, try popping garlic in pill form instead.


Eggs are high in vitamins B5 and B6. Although not directly affecting libido, eggs have the ability to fight stress and balance hormone levels, which can help your guy keep up energy when the mood calls. Want to really spice things up? Try caviar–it has the protein like eggs do, but have the added bonus of zinc- which helps to increase blood flow to all the right places.


Let’s face it: there is nothing sexy about celery. But believe it or not celery is an excellent source of food for sexual stimulation. This is because it contains androsterone, an odorless hormone released through male perspiration that can make a man appear more masculine. Best results comes from eating celery raw– so ladies get your man to start munching!


Go bonkers for bananas! Increasing libido and reversing impotence in men are due to the bromelain enzymes that reside inside. Not only are bananas a good source of potassium, they are also high in the B vitamins, such as riboflavin which increases the body’s overall energy levels. Bananas go great with fudge, so find new ways of getting creative.

Perspective by Amanda Holst

Have your cake and eat it too!

Essential Amino Acids Debunked

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are the building blocks of  of protein molecules. They help build protein and also aid in metabolism. The body manufactures proteins from 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and cannot be made from the body.  The essential acids and their functions are listed below:

Isoleucine– Helps to regulate and stabilize blood sugar and levels of energy. Also helps in the repair and healing of muscle tissue, skin, and bones. If you are deficient you may experience dizziness, depression, confusion, and symptoms resembling hypoglycemia.

Leucine-Helps to promote the healing of muscle tissue, bones, and skin when used with isoleucine and valine. Leucine is used sometimes for those recovering from surgery. Leucine helps to lower blood sugar. Deficiency in leucine may include dizziness, irritation, headache, fatigue, etc.

Lysine-helps with calcium absorption and keeps a proper nitrogen balance in adults. Helps to form antibodies that can fight cold sores and also can lower triglyceride levels in the body. Deficiency in lysine include low energy, hair loss, anemia, retarded growth, weight loss, and reproductive system complications.

Methionine– A powerful anti-oxidant and cab help prevent disorders of the hair, skin, and nails because of its source of sulfur. This amino acid helps in the breakdown of fats in the liver and arteries and is a good detoxifying agent against lead and metal in the body.

Phenylalanine– is used to promote alertness and vitality; this amino acid can raise mood, decrease paid and help in memory and learning. This amino acid is also used to treat arthritis, depression, menstrual cramps, migraines, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. Deficiencies in phenylalanine may include depression, chronic pain and Parkinson’s disease. Other signs of deficiency include fatigue, lethargy, liver complications and slow growth.

Threonine-helps with the proper protein balance in the body and the formation of tooth enamel, elastin, and formation of collagen. It can prevent the buildup of fat in the liver and helps with metabolism.

Tryptophan-helps alleviate insomnia and reduce anxiety and depression. Can help with migraine headaches and helps the immune system function properly. Can help in controlling weight by reducing appetite.

Valine-is important for muscle metabolism and coordination, tissue repair and for the maintenance of proper nitrogen balance in the body; Muscle tissue uses this as an energy source. Can calm emotions and help in the treatment of liver and gallbladder disease.

Foods Sources of Amino Acids

We do not have all the enzymes necessary to fashion all of the amino acids in our bodies, therefore, we have to get the fulfillment through diet. The typical American diet is rich in protein and amino acids and sources from animal sources usually have the highest amount. Chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, beef, and pork are the top contenders. Those who have a vegetarian diet may find it more difficult to get all the amino acids through food but it is not impossible. Dried beans such as kidney beans, black beans, and white beans can provide the amino acids necessary. A vegetarian diet rich in soy, peas, nuts, seeds, whole grains, rice, and legumes should be adequate.

Best sources of food and for which essential amino acid listed below:

Isoleucine-cashews, almonds, garbanzo beans, lentils, eggs, fish, liver, rye, soy protein, and most seeds

Leucine-cottage cheese, sesame seeds, peanuts, dry lentils, chicken, and fish

Lysine– cheese, potatoes, fish, eggs, milk, lima beans, soy products, yeast, most proteins

Methionine– onions, yogurt, soybeans, meat, fish, eggs, liver, dairy, garlic, lentils, and seeds

Phenylalanine-sesame seeds, tahini, cheese, almonds, peanuts, soybeans, proteins

Threonine– bread, beef, soy, wheat, brown rice, liver, peanuts

Tryptophan-brown rice, soy protein, peanuts, meat, cottage cheese

Valine-mushrooms, soy protein, peanuts, meat, grains, dairy

Disclaimer: As always it is best to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, self-diagnosing and change in diet.


Insel, Paul; Turner, R.; and Ross, Don (2001). Nutrition. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Whitney, Eleanor N., and Rolfes, Sharon R. (2002). Understanding Nutrition, 9th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Group.

Reference Guide for Amino Acids

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