January Newsletter

January 2009:  Starting the new year off right!


 Welcome to 2009!  I am finally starting to write the right year on my checks and getting back into a regular schedule after the fun of the holiday celebrations.  Like many others, I am trying to make changes for the better with this new start.  According to the TV and radio advertisements the two major self-improvement themes right now seem to be getting healthier even as we age and managing money more wisely in light of the current economic situation.  What changes are you making this year?  Whether you made resolutions to be healthy or are just looking for a couple ideas for dinner, these ideas and recipes are here to help you get healthy without breaking the bank at the grocery store.  Enjoy!


Healthy habit for the month:  Add some zing to your water with a slice of fresh lemon!  Dehydration can make you feel tired and hungry, but sometimes plain water just isn’t appealing.  Slice up a lemon and store the slices in the fridge.  When you are feeling that afternoon slump treat yourself to a glass of fresh, cold water with a twist of citrus. 


Recommended website: http://www.startmakingchoices.com/index.jsp

Short on cash, but want great flavor and good nutrition?  Check out this website for some fun ideas and recipes!



One-week meal plan:

Lemon-olive chicken with brown rice and Normandy vegetable mix

Spicy chickpea pasta with steamed carrots                           

Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and green beans

Tuscan bean soup and whole wheat bread

Hearty veggie pizza


Grocery list:

3 cloves garlic (or 2 Tbsps of minced garlic)

Chicken base or bouillon

Crushed red pepper

Thin spaghetti, either 100% whole wheat or Barilla PLUS

Spaghetti, 100% whole wheat or Barilla PLUS

Spaghetti sauce in a jar (generic brands are OK)

1 can pizza sauce

¼ cup roasted chopped almonds

1 bag dry chickpeas or garbanzo beans

1 bag dry cannellini or navy beans

1 lemon

Red onion

Frozen chicken breasts

½ pound ground sirloin or turkey

1 cup green olives, sliced

Frozen Normandy (California) mixed vegetables

frozen veggies for pizza – your choice

Frozen green beans

Baby carrots

Whole-grain white wheat bread or rolls (or ingredients for homemade)

2 leeks

shredded part-skim mozzarella

parmesan cheese (optional for pizza)


Pantry staples:

Olive oil

Flour, whole-grain white wheat











Lemon Chicken with Olives*

Adapted from


*thaw chicken breasts the evening before by placing them in a container of water in the fridge.  They can be in or out of the package.

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ red onion, diced
1 cup pitted green olives
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)

2 cups fresh baby spinach


Mix the flour, cumin, zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper on a flat plate. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and dredge in the flour mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe out the skillet and return to medium heat. Heat the remaining oil. Add the onions and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the olives, parsley, lemon juice, and wine and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it in the olives and onion. Add spinach.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Divide among individual plates, spooning the olives, onions, and any sauce over the top.

~if you have leftover chicken, save a couple pieces for the Tuscan Bean Soup to add extra protein~

Yield: Makes 4 servings NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 425(30% from fat); FAT 17g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8g; SODIUM 673mg; PROTEIN 51g; FIBER 2g; SUGAR 3g




Chickpea Pasta with Almonds and Parmesan*

Adapted from


*start soaking chickpeas the night before; then cook in a crockpot according to directions on bag.  Freeze or refrigerate leftovers to make another recipe such as hummus or minestrone.

**Reserve up to 1/4 of spaghetti and refrigerate in a Ziploc bag for Spaghetti night if desired.

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp chicken base or 2 bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1 pound whole-wheat or Barilla PLUS thin spaghetti
2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the base or bouillon, ½ cup water, red pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until the broth is nearly absorbed and the pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and parsley.

Divide among individual bowls and top with the almonds.  Serve with steamed carrots or fresh baby carrots.

Yield: Makes 8 servings NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 652(22% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 55g; SODIUM 350mg; PROTEIN 17g; FIBER 7g; SUGAR 3g





Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


1 jar pasta sauce, any brand

½ pound ground sirloin or turkey


Brown the meat in a skillet.  Add sauce.  Serve over thin spaghetti from day 2 or boil ½ pound regular spaghetti according to package directions.  Serve with steamed green beans and garlic bread.


Garlic Bread

Garlic powder

Olive oil

Whole wheat white bread, homemade or store-bought



Brush or spray olive oil on bread.  Sprinkle garlic powder lightly.  Place in toaster oven and toast to desired brownness right before serving



NUTRITION PER SERVING   (Nutrition depends greatly on what type of meat, bread, and how much oil is used.  Please look up your particular ground turkey or beef on www.nutritiondata.com)


Tuscan Bean Soup*

*start soaking the beans the night before!


2 tsps evoo (extra-virgin olive oil)

2 leeks, white and light green parts cut into 1/4 inch rounds and rinsed well

1 Tsp dried thyme

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth (I use the Costco chicken bouillon and add water)

2 cups cannellini beans, cooked

2 cups water

1) Heat oil in a dutch oven or soup pot.  Add leeks and cook until soft, stirring frequently.  Add thyme and stir for 30 seconds, then add remaining ingredients.  Heat thoroughly and serve with honey wheat bread


~if you have leftover chicken, cut it into small pieces and add it to this soup for extra protein~


Yield:  6 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVING  208 calories, 6g fat, 15g carb, 22g protein, 3g fiber (with 12oz leftover chicken)




(the recipe for this crust is adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook, 10th edition)


1 pkg (2 ¼ tsps)  yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups whole-grain white wheat flour
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt

Mix together, let rest 20 mins. Then roll out onto a greased stone or cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 10 minutes.  Add pizza sauce, veggies (I love adding fresh or frozen spinach) then mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Makes 2 – 11″ thin pizzas crusts.  You can freeze the dough in a ziploc bag, or bake both crusts and then freeze the crust for another time.


Makes 4 servings.


NUTRITION PER SERVING  257 calories, 9g fat, 33g carbohydrate, 14g protein, 6g fiber, 556mg sodium



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