Main Nutritious Intent Website

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chocolate Streusel Bread: A Cinderella Story

I found a recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine that was amazingly delicious.  Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake however was not only scrumptious, but shockingly high in fat and calories.  The original recipe makes one loaf (a huge one I might add) and involves massive amounts of butter, sugar and chocolate.  I decided to do a little makeover of my own on this recipe and here's how it turned out:
I had to quickly take a photo before it all disappeared.  Is the made-over, "Cinderella" version a health-food superstar?  No.  It is still a dessert-masquerading-as-a-breakfast-food, but the revised version is certainly a better option for this special-occasion food.

Martha Stewart's Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake:
1 recipe = 1 loaf
Serves 10
1 slice: 520 calories
            26.2 g fat
            68 g carbohydrates
            34.6 g sugar
            7 g protein

Trish's Chocolate Streusel Bread:
1 recipe = 3 loaves (I doubled the recipe and made 3 smaller loaves instead of 2 huge ones)
Serves 30
1 slice: 285 calories
            12.7 g fat
            40 g carbohydrates
            17.5 g sugar
            4.1 g protein

Obviously the main alteration was serving size - the original recipes's slices were so tall and large, that I decided that by making an extra loaf with a double recipe would bring the slices back into normal size.  Portion size is always key to healthful, balanced nutrition (and cooking!).
Next, I cut the amount of butter and sugar (always the best and easiest way to reduce fat and calories).  It still retains its chocolate filling, streusel topping and tender, buttery bread - but its decadence is no longer over-the-top. 

Here's a photo version of the recipes steps:

Here's the "Cinderella" or made-over version of the recipe:

Chocolate Streusel Bread

In mixing bowl, add:
4 1/2 tsp. dry yeast (2 packages)
1 1/2 cups warm, low-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
Let sit 5 minutes. 
dash salt
3 eggs
6 cups flour
1 stick butter well-softened (remember this is making 3 loaves so don't freak out)
Beat with dough hook until it forms a sticky dough.  Place in a greased bowl, cover then refrigerate overnight.  (Since I like to have this as a brunch, I make the dough the night before as well as the filling and streusel, then in the morning I just assemble, let rise 30 minutes and bake.  You can just let the dough double in size, then proceed.)
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. softened butter or spread
Mix well together until crumbly.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour
5 Tbsp. softened butter
Cut together with pastry blender until it forms a coarse-meal texture.
Once dough has risen once, punch down, divide into three equal parts and roll each out into a rectangle (about 16"x8").  Spread chocolate filling over the dough, leaving a small border.  Roll up  the dough as if you were making cinnamon rolls.  Pinch the seams and ends.  Fold the roll in half, then twist (see photos above).  Place in a well greased loaf pan (you may want to use  parchment paper in the bottom of the loaf pan to ensure it comes out intact).  You now have 3 loaves.  You can brush with an egg wash (1 Tbsp. beaten egg) but this is optional.  Sprinkle with the streusel topping.  I decided to only bake 2 loaves and freeze one.  (This is the point where you should freeze it.  Then when you just have to remove from the freezer - thaw, let raise and bake at your leisure.)  Let the loaves raise for about 30-45 minutes.  Bake at 350∘ for 45-50 minutes until deep, golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 200∘ (this means your bread won't be dough inside).
Let cool slightly before slicing.  Each loaf serves 10.  For nutrition information - see above.

Friday, May 24, 2013

5 Ways Stay Healthy All Summer Long

When summer starts - it seems like all routines disappear.  Don't let your healthy habits end once school is out.  Here are 5 tips you can easily maintain while enjoying a kick-back summer:
  1. Maintain a regular mealtime.  Flexibility is ok, but try to keep meals fairly routine (e.g. 8-9 am for breakfast, 12-1 for lunch, 5-6 for dinner)
  2. Drink water.  Avoid soda pop, koolaid, capri suns, juice boxes and sports drinks whenever possible.  Make water your first choice.
  3. Stock your car with emergency "smart snacks": nuts, dried fruit, and low-sugar, high-protein granola bars work great to keep you from veering towards the drive-thru.
  4. Brink kids into the kitchen.  Kids have more time to learn how to cook other meals, experiment with new recipes and just have fun in the kitchen.
  5. Eat more plants.  Plan a few extra minutes after your grocery shopping trip to wash, cut and portion out your produce.  Bag up sugar snap peas and carrots and keep them visible in the fridge.  Skewer up some melon and pineapple, then freeze for great popsicle alternatives.  
For more in-depth information - check out my segment on Studio 5

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rhubarb: The Garden's Shy, Sour Superstar

Fruit or Vegetable?
Botanically a vegetable, the courts ruled in 1947 that rhubarb was a fruit.  Personally I think it is fun to be eating a vegetable for dessert in that rhubarb crumble.
Anything that beautiful has to be good for you . . . and it is!
Health benefits of rhubarb include:
  • digestive aid
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K (great for building bones - but beware Coumadin users)
  • High in fiber
  • Full of antioxidants - one of which is lycopene
  • Magnesium and Potassium
So how does one enjoy this vegetable-disguised-as-a-fruit?
Fruit Soup:

Since most rhubarb recipes involve cooking the rhubarb - frozen rhubarb is a perfect way to preserve a bountiful harvest.  Wash, slice and freeze (you can blanch briefly, but I rarely do).  Then you can pull it out any time of the year to add some bright flavor to any menu.  And truly, eating vegetables for dessert never tasted so good!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Salad Season: Savoring Summer All Year Long

There are as many salad recipes, techniques and ideas out there as people who eat them.  The good news about this is that salads rarely require a set recipe - just use what you've got on hand, dress it, and voila!  Instant deliciousness.  Instead of giving you more rigid recipes (you can type salad into the search bar of my blog to find some specific recipes), I'd rather give a few of my favorite salad technique tips and then you can apply those that strike your fancy.  Keep in mind that we derive more nutrition from food that appeals to us -- visually as well as through the other senses.  Salads are a great way to apply this nugget of nutritional information.  Salads are naturally colorful - and by the way they are prepared or presented, they can add even more enticement. 

Fruit Salads:

  • Follow the seasonal fruit.  It will always be a tastier if you use what is in season. 
  • Dress less.  Fruits are so sweet and flavorful, that rarely do they need any dressing at all.  If you really think that your salad needs some sauciness - drizzle with a little honey and citrus juice, or just toss with a spoonful of reduced-sugar jam.  
  • Make the delivery fun.  Serve fruit in waffle cones, design the fruit plate to fit the occasion (flag, map, cantaloupe handcart, or baby carriage watermelon).  The internet is rife with ideas and tutorials - it truly is easier than you think.  Just let your creativity run wild!

  • Cross the barrier between sweet and savory.  Add fruits to your savory salads (tossed salads with vinaigrettes, chicken salads etc.).  Or if you are feeling daring - toss your seasonally sweet fruits with a little balsamic, kosher salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. 

Spinach Chicken Salad with cottage cheese poppy seed dressing and pomegranate (can use craisins or oranges)


Vegetable Salads:  

Garbanzo Panzanella Stuffed Peppers
  • Mix fruits and veggies.  Blackberries with mixed greens, grapefruit and orange sections in a spinach salad, grilled nectarines on a bed of spring greens and topped with some crumbled feta cheese. . . you get the idea.
  • Serve creatively.  Veggies in shot glasses, tossed salad in a margarita glass, or simply served in an edible cheese bowl or bell pepper half, all entice us to dig in and enjoy our veggies!
    Spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes and grilled peppers in a parmesan bowl with balsamic dressing on the side
  • Think beyond croutons.  Instead of always using croutons to add texture to the salad, try topping with nuts or seeds. Add in some whole grains - cooked barley, or quinoa makes a great addition to a traditional caprese salad.
    Caprese topped with quinoa
  • Don't just chop.  Pull out that mandolin or just your vegetable peeler.  I love shaving my vegetables into ribbons for my salads.  Carrots, zucchini, asparagus and even broccoli stems work great for that! Another way I love to prep my veggies is to grill or sear some before adding to a salad, giving some great smoky flavor. 
    Broccoli Carpaccio Salad - recipe on my blog
  • Dress lightly.  Don't overshadow the flavor of the veggies by the dressing.  Light vinaigrettes (recipes abound) are a healthy alternatives to heavier, bottled dressings.  Vinegar and olive oil have lots of nutritional benefits and with just a few seasonings - and even less time, you've got a tasty dressing.  If you need a creamy dressing - use non-fat yogurt as your base, or just toss with a little cottage cheese.  
  • Make salad your main dish.  Add a some perlini mozzarella and hard boiled egg for a hearty, main-dish salad.  Add some whole grain and a couple different beans to a salad and you've got a whole meal!
    "Big Salad" night = mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes

With a little experimentation and some creativity - you can enjoy salads year-round without the monotony of the same old tossed salad with ranch.  So go invent some new family favorites!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day Family Walk and Brunch

For Mother's Day I wanted to walk a favorite trail with the family then come back for brunch.  So after going on a lovely stroll down the Lagoon Trail in Farmington with my Dad and my sister's family, we came back to our place and had this for brunch:
This was the menu:
    • Fresh Fruit
    • Mushroom Frittata
    • Sesame Semolina Toast Topped with Nutella, Oranges and Kosher Salt
    • Creme Brulee Oatmeal with Ginger Cream
    • Orange Juice
Here are some links to the recipes:

For the creme brulee oatmeal, I used all dried cherries instead of apricots, and swapped out frozen blueberries for raspberries.

Even though it required a bit of prep time, it was much tastier and healthful than your typical restaurant breakfast (plus I have leftovers for the coming week).  So take some time, cook something and give those you love the gift of your time, deliciously spent!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Graham Cracker Crust: Boosting Nutrition in Unlikely Places

I love to tinker with recipes.  It is rare that I end up making a recipe exactly as it is written (most of the time I fail to use a written recipe at all).  But more often than not, my recipe alterations stem from a desire to boost the nutritional value of foods.  So even though, a key lime pie may fall into the "fun food" category, there's no reason I can't give it a little boost.  This morning I was making no-bake key lime pie in 1/2 pint jars to take to a friend's house for lunch (for more recipe info, see  I decided to up the fiber and healthy fat content of the graham cracker crust by swapping a couple crackers out and adding in some wheat bran and flax seed meal.  I like to keep those in my freezer so they stay fresh and I can toss them in all sorts of recipes.  I ended up using about 3 Tbsp. each of ground flax seed and wheat bran in my 1-pie crust recipe.
Does this magically make pie a health food?  Heavens no!  But no nutrition is ever wasted, so why not up it where you can?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Diet Watch: Gluten-Free

Let me preface this one by saying that eating a gluten free diet is essential for those diagnosed with Celiac Disease (also referred to as Celiac Sprue).  Also, for those that are diagnosed with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), a gluten-free diet is beneficial.  However, many people jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon do not fall into either category.  (Gluten is actually the protein found in certain grains that gives texture and body to dough and baked products.)  There is a lot of hype surrounding gluten lately and hype in the media = fad-driven marketing power.  So, if you are diagnosed with either condition, please see a Registered Dietitian as following a gluten-free diet while maintaining optimal health can be challenging. 

For those interested in following it because of all the hype we hear about the majority of people not being able to digest gluten or wheat, here's my review:

Gluten-free Regimen:

Elimination of all gluten-containing products.  Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. 


Increased energy, improved concentration, better digestion, improvements in autism and ADHD.

Assessment from a Registered Dietitian:

Practicality rating: D+

As there are many gluten-free products out there these days as well as many naturally gluten-free products advertising this on their labels, it is easier than ever to go gluten-free.  However, when you really start to look at how many foods do contain gluten (pastas, soy sauce, salad dressings, deli meats, soups, desserts, gravies and even french fries), it becomes very tricky to maintain a truly gluten-free diet.  Think about how many social situations that become problematic: eating out, birthday parties, school lunch, etc.  It can rapidly reduce the variety in one's diet and be frustrating to try to maintain. 

Health Rating: C+

The plus part of the rating is because there are certainly ways to maintain one's health while avoiding gluten - just ask anyone with celiac disease.  But the C part of the rating comes because few people really do go to all the trouble to really balance their diet and compensate for the things they are missing.  Many gluten-free foods are nutritionally inferior to their gluten-containing counterparts and here are deficiencies that can result:
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Folate
So for those seeking greater energy levels, improved concentration, and better digestion - you won't find it if you are anemic (iron or folate deficiencies) and not eating enough fiber (constipation).  For this reason, it is particularly important that children get a confirmed diagnosis before following this diet. 

Sustainability Rating: C-

As I mentioned earlier - there are many people that must sustain this diet life-long due to diagnosed Celiac disease or NCGS.  But that doesn't make it easy or optimal.  As with any diet that restricts or eliminates foods or food groups, one's ability to sustain the diet decreases.  Remember that if you see claims popping up on cereal boxes or other products at your local grocery store, chances are it is a fad-based marketing ploy.  So if it is popular, and hyped up in the media - beware.  Even with the reports of medical studies etc., if you follow the money trail, you'd most likely find bias introduced by those funding or profiting from the study.  For most of us, wheat and gluten isn't a problem whether we completely digest all of it or not.  So think twice before going gluten-free without a medical diagnosis, especially if you are feeding a family and your diet might be spilling over onto your children. 

If you are following a gluten-free diet, please see a registered dietitian so that you can avoid the possible deficiencies and pitfalls inherent to the diet.