Meatless Monday: Chickpea Potpie with Cornbread Crust

Can I be honest about a few things?

Firstly, I’m totally bummed it’s Monday – so bummed. You can probably see me pouting through the screen. Secondly, this dish far, far exceeded my expectations. I like everything in the dish, but I wasn’t quite so sure it would have that wow-factor, especially if it were to be compared to a classic potpie. Mmmm…potpie.

But I was wrong. And unlike some people, namely, Mr. Prevention, I can admit when I’m wrong.

If you’re undecided about or underwhelmed by chickpeas like I myself (unless their processed with garlic and tahini to make hummus), this dish is likely to change your mind. Of course, you could sub chicken or turkey in for the chickpeas and I imagine this dish would still be one to sing praises over.

If you can find a filling portion of comforting potpie for under 300 calories and nearly 7 1/2 grams of fiber per serving, that actually tastes good…well, it aint gunna happen.

Seeing as I’m about a week behind the masses, I guess it’s time to commit myself to food journaling. While I still believe it to be true that I am burnt out on writing down my every last bite from years of dieting, I would love to continue losing weight…at a faster rate, ideally. ‘Cause, well…it just can’t go much slower!

I want to focus on not what I eat (I’m good there), but portion sizes — meals made in ramekins like this one are perfect for portion control — and maybe not always having a glass of wine when I have to grade papers or lesson plan at night.


Chickpea Potpie with Cornbread Crust adapted from Big Bowl of Love and Eats Well With Others

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced 1/2 cup carrots, diced 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1-14 oz can low-sodium vegetable broth 1-14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1/2 cup frozen baby peas 1/4 tsp kosher salt cracked pepper, to taste dash of Tabasco sauce

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour 1 Tbsp baking powder 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup fat free milk 2 Tbsp olive oil 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten


Boil the potatoes and carrots until tender but not soft and set aside, about 7-8 minutes.

Spray a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray (or 7 ramekins!)

For the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the 1/4 cup flour and mix. Slowly pour in the vegetable stock whisking well with a wire whisk. Still using the whisk, cook the mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, peas, cooked potatoes and carrots, salt, pepper to taste, and Tabasco. Cook on medium heat until the mixture is heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Distribute the filling into the prepared casserole dish, spreading evenly or divide evenly among ramekins.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

For the crust, in a bowl combine the cornmeal, 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the milk, oil, and egg yolk. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until uniform but a bit lumpy. Spoon the batter evenly over the filling.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes for the casserole and 10 to 12 minutes for the ramekins. Yield: 7 servings (about 1 1/3 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 291 calories; 7.7 g. fat; 31 mg. cholesterol; 666 mg. sodium; 47 g. carbohydrate; 7.3 g. fiber; 7.9 g. protein

Result: Comfort food without the calories or guilt! I actually had to double check the nutrition information to be sure it wasn’t a mistake. This potpie tastes far too good to come in under 300 calories a serving. The hands-on time for this dish is under 25 minutes which makes it great for weeknights. It reheats great and is a perfect starter entree for those wishing to incorporate more vegetarian meals while still pleasing all the mouths they have to feed. I will warn that I used 2 ramekins (6 ounces each) and a 2-quart casserole dish — all was fine. But a 2 quart will not fit all the potpie and crust so go with a 2 1/2 quart or 2 smaller casserole dishes just to be sure – the crust will rise about double and there’s plenty to spread over all of the pie insides! Enjoy!


You read it, I’m doing it — food journaling!

Be well,

Cran-Apple Spice Granola

When my favorite variety of Greek yogurt was on sale 10 for $10, I stocked up. If you were to open my fridge, especially a week ago, you’d think I was on a Greek yogurt binge or cleanse. Due to the plentiful amount of protein in Greek yogurt, I love to have it at breakfast for some serious staying power. Plus, it travels really well to work, campus, or where ever I’m off to.

Normally I pair my yogurt with a piece of fruit, but here lately, I wanted a change. I wanted granola, but not a variety that was loaded with carbs and sugar. I did a little research and found a recipe that used cranberries and apple cider — how fitting for this time of year!

Most of the recipe ingredients are staple, non-perishables in my pantry and offer up lots of nutrition. The more nuts and seeds I can include in my diet, the better. I, along with most Americans, likely don’t intake enough heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Which are not only essential, but help keep cholesterol levels within desirable ranges.

This mission has become especially important to me as my last two lipid panels from 2010 and 2011 reveal a slightly elevated LDL. To those in the nutrition world and who work with chronic disease management, an LDL above 100 is elevated, while most diagnostic ranges recognize up to 130 as within normal limits. Mine are 118. :(

That said, my HDL is great and my triglycerides are well below the recommended 150 or less. And my HDL:LDL ratio is great. Still, though, I hate having an LDL above 100! I am wise enough to know that cholesterol is, at least in part, genetic…but I want to include more healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids) and less saturated (read: cheese…even low-fat). Of course I say that we enter casserole season…

On a positive note, and since I haven’t talked about my PCOS management in LONG time…my average blood glucose is down 7 mg/dl. Is that a lot? No. But it wasn’t much out of range to begin with. And, I weigh 5-6 pounds less than this time last year, too!

Going into the holiday season with all the food, sugar, and butter, it’s important for me to remember the strides I have made health-wise in the last year — and the ones I still need to improve upon. My weight is a continuous battle, but keeping my blood sugars where they should be can help me work towards my happy weight.

And this recipe, is packed with lots of the good. Rich in heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber. Oh, and perfect to sprinkle over your morning yogurt, or to create a little yogurt parfait!


Cran-Apple Spice Granola inspired by Lexie’s Kitchen

1 cup unsalted pistachios 3/4 cup raw pepitas 3/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1 cup old-fashioned oats 1 cup fresh cranberries 1/3 cup fresh apple cider 3 Tbsp maple syrup 1 Tbsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp dried ginger


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Blend the fresh cranberries, apple cider, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger in a blender or food processor.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Drizzle the cranberry-cider mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to coat.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the granola in a single layer and bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool (and harden) before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Yield: ~5 1/2 cups (22 servings – 1/4 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 132 calories; 8.6 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 29 mg. sodium; 10.9 g. carbohydrate; 2.1 g. fiber; 3.5 g. protein

Result: Crunchy, nutty, and faintly sweet. This recipe is simple to make and keeps well in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. It’s a great way to bring festive fall flavors to breakfast, leaving behind all the sugar and butter. Enjoy!


A day of house decorating and baking ahead! Thanksgiving last night was a success – stay tuned for those recipes and photos!

Be well,

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese {+ Happy Halloween!}

Happy Halloween!

I still have to decide what I’m going to work as today…a banana or a hockey player. There’s faults with both costumes. Entering a dialysis unit in a banana costume is an interesting concept. Seeing as my patients are all on strict potassium restrictions, it’s almost a tease…or sending the wrong message (I am the dietitian, after all). Maybe I just need a “DON’T eat me!” sign to pin to my chest. Hmm..

A hockey player is a little generic. And probably a little stinky. Hockey equipment doesn’t get washed very often because…well, it just doesn’t. Seeing as I played a game until 10pm last night, that could be interesting..and potentially offensive. But, there’s always perfumes and Febreze, right? Right.

Unlike my poorly planned Halloween costume choices, there is no fault to be found in this recipe. As soon as I saw it on Gina’s blog, I knew I had to make it.

How this recipe from Cooking Light ever slipped passed my eyes is beyond me. I am known for pouring over my monthly Cooking Light issues for a really, really long time.

But that’s no longer important. What is important is that I think I modified the recipe to be even better. I don’t know that for a fact, but skipping the panko and baking not only 1) cut time and 2) cut calories…but 3) made for the creamiest, richest, most wonderful mac & cheese you may ever have pass your lips.

…For under 400 calories per serving. (Bonus points for it being orange and today being Halloween!) ;)


Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese adapted from Cooking Light and The Candid RD

3 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about one 1-lb squash) 1 1/4 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1/4 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt 1 1/4 cups (5 oz) Gruyere cheese, shredded 1 cup (4 oz) pecorino Romano cheese, grated 1/4 cup (1 oz) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated 1 lb uncooked whole wheat pasta (such as penne or rotini)


Combine squash, broth, garlic, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth.

Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyere, parmesan, and Parmesan cheese. Add pasta to the squash-cheese mixture, stir to combine and serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 395 calories; 11.6 g. fat; 32 mg. cholesterol; 568 mg. sodium; 50.5 g. carbohydrate; 4 g. fiber; 23.3 g. protein

Result: Dare I say the best dish yet this fall? This was truly wonderful. Rich…comforting… sinful-tasting…but not so much. This is ready in 35 minutes from start to finish and is sure to be the perfect meal for kids, guests, and everyone in between. SO GOOD. Enjoy!


Regardless of my costume woes, I must say that the other gal in this household makes the cutest ballerina ever…for the second year in a row. This dietitian mama is doing something right…the tutu still fits from last year ;) Can’t say I wasn’t a bit worried about that possibility..

Tonight is trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, I am giving an exam tonight so the Princess and Mr. Prevention will be handing out candy to the neighborhood cuties without me. On the plus side, not handing out candy this year may be of benefit to my waistline. I don’t know about you all, but far too many pieces of candy make their way into my belly as I’m putting them into kids’ candy sacks and buckets!

Question: Are you dressing up for Halloween? If so, as what?

Happy Halloween!

Link Love: My 7 Things

I don’t normally participate in things like this, but I have enjoyed reading so many other bloggers’ 7 links, I was thrilled with Faith of An Edible Mosaic (a long-time favorite blog of mine) tagged me to do so. It’s hard to think back on 27 months of blog posts – this will be my 784th blog post. Insane! But, I did my best. Here we go…

1. Most Beautiful: Tribute to Mama Prevention – Mother’s Day 2010. I’m lucky enough to call my mom my best friend. She’s the most incredible woman I know. The best compliment anyone could ever give me is that I resemble her in any way – looks, mannerisms, sayings, anything.

2. Most Popular: Whole Wheat Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes. I wish I knew why these were so popular, but these things spread like WILD FIRE across the internet and I have received, by far, the most hits on this post. And, they were delicious, too ;)

3. Most Controversial: SkinnyGril Margaritas. There is no link because the post was THAT controversial. In summary, in case you weren’t around back then, I posted about Skinny Girl Margaritas and their serving size (1 1/2 ounces for 38 calories) simply being (for the most part) a play on potions, and not a huge savings from other pre-mixed margaritas. Someone from Bethanny’s marketing department threatened to sue me if I didn’t take the post down and publicly apologize. And here I thought I was just doing simple math — that 1.5 ounces is not a serving size of margarita and that if you drink 8 ounces, that’s over 200 calories. Anyways, the post is down and I think less of Bethanny, her products, and her entire “empire” than ever before. P.S. Did you hear these margaritas were pulled from the shelves of Whole Foods because they weren’t, in fact, “all-natural”? Shocker. The last quote she has in there makes her sound like a real gem. Why isn’t ever a Registered Dietitian who hits it big? Gr.

4. Most Helpful: How to make homemade yogurt in a crock pot. I was so happy with the way this yogurt turned out. I have since decided to spend my time making meals and breakfasts, and opt to buy Greek yogurt, but if I am ever lucky enough to work from home or be a stay-at-home mom or part-time employee, it’s definitely something I would do on a regular basis.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful: Red Velvet Cookies with White Chocolate Chips. More people Google “red velvet cookies” and land on my site more than any other search engine terms. While these cookies were delicious, I find them to be rather…ugly, especially my photos of them – bleck! But, it sure has people headed to Prevention RD from all over the world wide web for the (all too simple) recipe that includes a boxed cake mix.

6. Most Overlooked: Sweet & Salty Olive Oil Granola Clusters. This is crack in granola form. I have dreams about this granola. This granola nearly disappeared into thin air. And, I didn’t hear from one reader that they tried it. Your loss, folks…make it!!

7. Most Proud: Imperfections. I wrote this post when I was overwhelmed with work and my weight. I was struggling with work-life balance and fitting it all in to 24 hours. I still struggle with that, but unlike my last job (which I was in when I wrote this post), I no longer sit ALL day at work. I still sit a lot, more than I would like, but I make an effort to always do my charting standing up at the nurse’s station in the clinic. My weight has remained fairly stable since this post was written, but I am still desiring 20lbs or so weight loss. I *have* lost 10lbs since January and I’ve maintained that loss. So long as I’m stable or heading slowly in the right direction, I’ve learned to love me just as I am. And you, my dear readers, were beyond sweet and supportive to me in that post. There’s moments in time you just remember, always, and driving to work hearing my Blackberry ding with new comments on the post was so nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what people would think. But as the saying goes, honest is best policy and I learned a lot from posting something I was so insecure about. {this photo was taken right around the I posted that blog post}

I think a lot of the blogs I follow have already been tagged and my memory isn’t the best. So I am going to tag all the blogs with the words “HEALTH” or “HEALTHY” in their blog name/web address. Go!

On an unfortunate and unrelated note, I spent last night at Urgent Care. I woke-up on Saturday with pain around my left rib cage and on my left shoulder. It got to the point on Saturday night that I was in tears, just sobbing. I couldn’t get comfortable and on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being take me to the ER NOW), I was at about a 9. At this point I’ve been diagnosed with a “chest muscle strain” but seeing as my last workout was Friday afternoon and was a simple elliptical workout, that isn’t quite stacking up. After a rash developed on my stomach, we’re now waiting to rule out shingles. LORD LOVING, let me not have shingles. But it hurts to move, laugh, breathe, lay…just about anything. And so clearly, it’s been a far from enjoyable weekend. I am just hoping things improve…quickly.

I hope you are all enjoying your Labor Day weekend and are having some better weather than central Ohio – bleck!

Lots of love,

Time to Abandon the Notion of Personal Choice in Dietary Counseling for Obesity?

Six weeks after the fact, I finally cracked open my Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Normally, I don’t find too much research that I find note-worthy, but a study entitled, “Time to Abandon the Notion of Personal Choice in Dietary Counseling for Obesity?”, caught my eye.

In short, the study suggests that many people account “insufficient willpower” to their failed weight loss attempts, even over aspects such as genetics which have been shown to predict 55-75% of BMI [1]. Further, the study looked at 3 behavioral processes: food reward, inhibitory control, and time discounting. Each of these behavior processes affect food choices in different ways.

Food reward, for example, looked into the motivation of individuals to consume palatable food. To battle this behavior, the study suggested removing palatable food cues from personal environments (i.e. home, office, etc.) in order to reduce overeating. Simply put, if its tastes good, and it’s there…you’re more likely to eat it. Furthermore, if there’s plenty there, you’ll continue to eat more because it tastes good; the taste itself is rewarding. Other tips to off-set food reward would be to shop with a grocery list, use online grocers, and planning restaurant menu selections in advance [1].

The second behavioral process, inhibitory control, supports restraint from eating. As weight loss is produced by a caloric deficit, this process can directly inhibit weight loss efforts and can be disrupted by stress. Avoiding situations which greatly challenge inhibitory control, such as buffets and restaurants, as well as stress management can be helpful in increasing inhibitory control [1].

The final behavioral process is time discounting which was described as the immediate pleasure from eating. In many individuals, the immediate pleasure from eating has a greater impact on their decision than the delayed benefits of weight loss or weight control. To help counter this process, short-term goal-setting is encouraged with no time frame being too small. I have often encouraged clients and patients to set hourly or meal-time goals. Preparing healthy meals and foods in advance increases the accessibility of food and healthier decisions [1].

If you’re thinking, “Nicole, you didn’t just tell me anything I already didn’t know”…I would believe you 100%. We know these things, and yet, we fall into the traps of these behavioral processes all…the…time. Why? Well, because food is wonderful and a part of all of our lives on a daily basis, multiple times a day. It’s impossible to always make the “best” decision (I use the term “best decision” lightly as I believe all foods fit into a balanced and healthy lifestyle).

What I do think is to gain from reading such articles is knowing the traps we fall into. There’s a reason I don’t walk into the grocery story without a grocery list – even if it’s for 3 items (besides the fact that my senile mind has trouble with remembering 3 items)! It’s because I love food and mysteriously, food items not on my list begin appearing in my cart, and then in my pantry. Kind of like…when Mr. Prevention comes to the store with me.

Anyways, the more you truly know about yourself – what makes you tick and why you make the choices you make – you will be able to more easily adjust these behavioral processes, and decisions, in order to produce the changes you want to see. Changing isn’t easy, but if you can identify the behavior and process, your chances of succeeding are all the higher.

[1]. Appelhans BM, Whited MC, Schneider KL, & Pagoto SL (2011). Time to abandon the notion of personal choice in dietary counseling for obesity? Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111 (8), 1130-6 PMID: 21802557

And on that note…Lily and I are off to the farmer’s market for our usual Saturday morning routine :-D

Question: Which behavior process do you struggle with most? Food reward? Inhibitory control? Time discounting?

Happy weekend!