Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

If you do not already have a crock pot, I strongly suggest that you invest in one!  They are so great because you can throw all the ingredients in before you leave in the morning and when you get home dinner is done - especially convenient for a busy student athlete!  Or, if you are really not a morning person, you can throw all the ingredients into a Slow Cooker Liner the night before and put it in the fridge; then in the morning, you just have to put the bag into the crock pot.  And the best part - no clean up required!  Does it get any easier?!?

I realize its getting a little warm for soup, but its never to warm for easy!

You will need the following:

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
10 oz frozen corn or 1 can of corn
1/2 white onion, chopped*
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (doesn't matter what color, I had a green one so that's what I used)*
10 oz can of enchilada sauce
1 can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cups skim milk
5-6 frozen chicken breast strips (or 2-3 frozen chicken breasts)

*You can buy these pre-chopped in the produce department for added ease, but chop them yourself to save some money.  Also available in the frozen section of some stores.

After your onion and green pepper are chopped, combine them with the beans, tomatoes and corn in a slow cooker liner in your crock pot.

Place frozen chicken on top of veggies.

In a mixing bowl, combine enchilada sauce and cream of chicken soup.

Mix in milk until smooth.

Pour mixture into crock pot.

Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken (I just do it while it is still in the crock pot...its pretty tender so it just falls apart).

Top with low fat shredded cheese or sour cream/plain Greek yogurt, or better yet - avocado slices for some added healthy fats!

Adapted from here.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3 Ways to Enjoy Sweet Potatoes

Lately I have been on a sweet potato kick. I absolutely love them! So I have been trying a few different ways to eat them. Here are three ways you can mix it up with your sweet potatoes.

#1) Old fashioned baked sweet potato
All you need is your sweet potato, some brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Bake the sweet potato in the oven for about 45-75 minutes at 400 degrees (larger sweet potatoes will take longer). When your sweet potato is done add about 1/4 Tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and just a little bit of butter to you potato. Then enjoy! It is delicious.

#2) Honey roasted sweet potatoes
The ingredients will include; Sweet potato, olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Peel your sweet potato and cut into one inch pieces. Place your sweet potatoes in a baking dish. Combine 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 Tablespoon of honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and then bake them for about an hour or until they are soft. Be sure to move them around every so often while they are baking.

#3) Sweet potato fries
You will need your sweet potato, some sugar, salt and paprika for these delicious fries. Start by peeling and cutting you potato into wedges. Then toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, 1/4 Tablespoon salt and 1/2 Tablespoon of smoked paprika. Place them on a large baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing them about half way through.

*Remember that sweet potatoes have high nutritional value and are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, folate, and potassium. Enjoy these ideas as a side to your steak or chicken one night and you will have a great dinner in front of you.

recipes adapted from,,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Parmesan Fish & Veggies

I found this fish recipe and have made it twice already - pair it with these veggies - and you will have a fast and delicious meal on your plate in no time!  Add some brown rice, whole wheat pasta or a dinner roll for some healthy carbs as well.

First set your oven to broil.

For the zucchini I used...

Olive oil based cooking spray
2 medium sized zucchini, sliced
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray butter
Parmesan cheese

Spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray.  Spread sliced zucchini on sheet.  Spray with butter, top with Parmesan cheese.

For the fish...

Olive oil based cooking spray
2 filets of tilapia, thawed
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup olive oil base mayo
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter, softened
Few dashes of basil

Place fish filets on baking sheet prepared with cooking spray.

Combine remaining ingredients in small mixing bowl.

Spread mixture on top of fish.

Place both baking sheets in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  The fish is done when it flakes with a fork and the zucchini when it starts to brown.

Dinner is served!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken Salad - A lighter meal

This is a very tasty meal that can be eaten for a lighter lunch or dinner. Try it out!

2 T peanut oil
8oz boneless skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1/4 tsp salt, divided
10 cups sliced shitake mushroom caps (about 1 lb mushrooms)
2 T minced ginger
1 T minced garlic
3 T lower sodium soy sauce
2 T water plus 1 T honey
1 tsp rice vinegar
8 cups baby spinach
1 3/4 cups chopped grean onions

1) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 T oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add the chicken to pan along with 1/4 tsp pepper and 1/8 tsp of salt. Cook until chicken is done and remove from pan.
2) Add mushrooms, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp salt to pan and stir fry 6 minutes.
3) Add 1 T oil, ginger and garlic. Cook 30 seconds stirring constantly.
4) Return chicken to pan, add soy sauce, vinegar and the water and honey mixture. Cook 2 minutes.
5) Remove mixture from pan. Stir in spinach and green onions and serve.

This recipe makes about 4 servings.
Calories per serving: 205  Fat per serving: 8.4g  Protien per serving: 19g  Carb per serving: 13.4g
Adapted from

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cooking Demo: No Bake Energy Bites

Written by University of Houston Dietetic Intern, Amanda Gilles

Today we did a cooking demo for the Men’s Golf team on campus. Our topic of focus was all about fats; the good, the bad and the ugly! We discussed unsaturated fats, saturated fats and trans fats.

During the cooking demo we made Chicken Guacamole Tostadas, Cowboy Caviar salad, and Oatmeal Energy bites for dessert. Each recipe was quick and easy to make; no cooking or baking required!  All of the recipes included healthy fats such as avocado, flaxseeds, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Everyone’s favorite recipe of the day was dessert! Try out this sweet treat that that is loaded with healthy fats!

No-Bake Energy Bites Recipe
Here is a quick and easy recipe that makes a great pre-workout or post-workout snack! These energy bites contain healthy fats in the form of peanut butter and ground flaxseed. Healthy fats will help you to stay fuller for longer, and will provide health benefits such as improved cholesterol levels and reduced belly fat! When choosing peanut butter, try to buy all natural, it will be lower in sodium, sugar and won’t contain unhealthy Trans-fats!
  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup raisins or 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into about 1” balls. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Or put in freezer.
Makes about 20 balls.

Feel free to substitute in your favorite nut butter (almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.) for the peanut butter.  Or, replace the flax with some chocolate whey protein for some added protein.

Some other fun substitutions for the chocolate chips (or an addition to them) could include:
  • chopped dried fruit (apricots, dates, raisins, etc.)
  • dried berries (cranberries, cherries, etc.)
  • chopped almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds
  • other chips (butterscotch, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, etc.)

Nutrition Facts per ball: Calories 136; Total fat 6.5g; Saturated Fat 1.7g; Sodium 35mg; Carbohydrates 18g; fiber 2.3g; Protein 3.5g. Adapted from

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Beef and Bell Pepper Stir Fry

Here is a very tasty and healthy stir fry that I usually like to put over rice and add a salad on the side. Great meal!


1 T canola oil

12 oz flank steak, cut into strips

1 red bell pepper cut into thin strips

1 yellow bell pepper cut into thin strips

3 T lower sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 T rice wine vinegar

1 T minced ginger

2 t chili garlic sauce (lee kum kee)

4 green onions cut into 2 inch pieces

2 t sesame seeds


1) Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil, swirl to coat.

2) Add steak to pan and cook for about 3 minutes

3) Add bell peppers and cook until beef loses its pink color. Then remove mixture from pan.

4) Add soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili garlic sauce to pan and bring to a boil

5) Cook until slightly thickened, then add the beef mixture and green onions back to the pan and toss to coat.

6) sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 4 people; 216 calories; 11.5g fat; 21g protein; 7.7g carbohydrates

Monday, March 5, 2012

Carbo-loading; is it beneficial?

Written by University of Houston Dietetic Intern, Amanda Gilles.

Carbohydrate loading can provide added energy that athletes often need. If you are exercising for extended periods of time with high intensity; increasing carbohydrate intake can increase your endurance by about 20%. So, if you normally run about 20 miles and hit a wall, carbo-loading could help you reach 24 miles before hitting exhaustion.  When you carbo-load your muscles retain extra glycogen which gets used as energy on the day of your event. The extra glycogen will help to improve performance and allow athletes to exercise at their optimal pace for an extended period of time.

Carbohydrate loading isn’t for everyone. Short term exercise does not benefit as much from carbo-loading but rather a well balanced consistent carbohydrate diet to provide energy.   If you are exercising for 90 minutes or longer at a moderate to high intensity level, you may benefit from carbo-loading. Three to four days before your event you should begin to reduce your exercise and slowly ramp up your carbohydrate intake to promote glycogen storage.

Carbohydrates are so important because the brain needs carbohydrates to function properly, and they are muscles preferred source of energy. When you don’t consume enough carbohydrates your body will start breaking down muscle for energy.

Where are carbohydrates found?
Good sources of carbohydrates for athletes are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat milk.  

Meal and snack ideas to increase carbohydrates:
·         Pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, toast, sandwiches, pasta, bean salads, yogurt parfait, smoothies, banana with peanut butter, baked potato with toppings, chocolate milk homemade sweet potato fries, rice and beans with fajitas, fresh fruit salad, and bagels to name a few!

The following is an example meal plan for a 155lb - 160lb athlete aiming to carbohydrate load:
3 cups breakfast cereal with 1 ½  cups of reduced fat milk
1 medium banana
1 cup orange juice
toasted English muffin with honey
 sports drink
2 sandwiches (4 slices of bread) with filling as desired
 bottle of fruit juice
banana smoothie made with milk, banana and honey+
cereal bar
1 cup of pasta sauce with 2 cups of cooked pasta
3 slices of garlic bread
2 glasses of milk
Late Snack
toasted bread with peanut butter
 sports drink

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sugar Shocker

 Written by University of Houston Dietetic Intern, Amanda Gilles

Did you know that on average a person is supposed to consume around 6-7 tsp or around 100-120 calories from sugar each day? In reality most people are consuming 35+ tsp of sugar on a daily basis! That is A LOT of sugar, plus a lot of empty calories! Empty calories can lead to weight gain and many chronic health conditions such as Type II Diabetes.

Here is the amount of sugar in some foods that may surprise you:

6 oz package of Twizzlers = 17+ tsp of sugar!
Large Movie Soda= 37 tsp of sugar!
Snapple Lemon Iced Tea= 11.5 tsp sugar!
Strawberry Yoplait Yogurt= 7 tsp sugar!
Pop Tart= 5 tsp sugar!
4 tbsp ketchup= 4 tsp sugar!
*** 1 tsp = 4 g sugar

Try to avoid or limit the following high sugar options: sugar cereals, cookies, candy, and cakes, low protein fruit flavored yogurt, syrups, ice creams, soda, fruit juice and sweet teas.
Instead reach for natural sources of sugars that will also provide nutrients, and fiber such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products.

Try this Peanut Butter Cookie recipe for a sweet treat that isn’t loaded with sugars.

 PB Cookie Dough Bites, makes about 15 cookies
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-4 teaspoons water (opt)
  • 2-4 tablespoons flour (opt)
  1. In a food processor, process the nuts until very fine.
  2. Add raisins through vanilla and process again, pulsing until smooth. I found that I needed to add a little water because my food processor couldn’t handle the stickiness. If you need to, add a teaspoon of water at a time until the whole mixture becomes well blended and sticks into a large dough ball.
  3. Remove dough from food processor. If you need to add some flour to degrease the dough a little bit, just incorporate it in with your hands. Form into small balls and press each ball twice with a fork to make a criss-cross pattern
Nutrition information per cookie: Calories 69; total fat 4g; Carbohydrate: 6.9g; protein: 2.3g. Adapted from