Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes

Love cheese? Sure you do! How about grilled cheese? Oh yes, of course you do!

Did you know that this delicious comfort food can actually be a nutritious choice, even when it comes to fertility? It’s true!

And here’s some amazing news, not only is it National Grilled Cheese Month, but it’s also Fertility Friday and that means it’s time to get started on this series of posts dedicated to nutrition and fertility. In last week’s post, I introduced you to this series and today, I present you with the goods I promised – delicious, nutritious insight on food and fertility. Once you’re done here, don’t forget to check out Liz’s post over at Shaw Simple Swaps for her amazing post and recipe. You don’t want to miss it!

Ok, back to that grilled cheese. First, let me say that I love that these two days are intertwining, because grilled cheese can be a nutritious, fertility food. Who knew, right? Well, I did, but let me explain. It’s all about variety and moderation and fertility friendly foods.

Let’s take my recipe for Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes as an example:

Whole Grains: This recipe starts with a whole grain baguette base. Why whole grain bread? Well, because it is more nutritious than it’s refined, white bread counterpart. Whole grains have more vitamins and nutrients and even more fiber. See, I told you, more nutrition!

  • Fertility Focus – Whole grains help regulate blood sugar. Who cares about blood sugar? You should. You see, refined white breads, sugary cereals and candies can cause your blood sugar to spike quickly. Your pancreas has to work over-time to drive that blood sugar down. To do this, it sends out a handy hormone known as insulin to do to battle all of that sugar. This results in a high level of insulin in your bloodstream which have been indicated by research, to inhibit ovulation. So, no thank you white bread, white rice, chips and the like. I’ll stick with my whole grains!

Tomatoes: Who doesn’t love a sweet, juicy tomato? Ok, well, I didn’t until my early 20’s, but I’ve learned my lesson. These little red dynamos pack a serious nutritional (we’re talking Vitamin C and Vitamin A) punch. So eating them is a real win-win in my book! Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene, a compound responsible giving tomatoes their vibrant red color. Lycopene just happens to also be a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants keep us healthy by preventing damage from free radicals. This is great health insurance, considering if free radicals are left to their own devices, they can do serious harm to our healthy cells and DNA.

  • Fertility Focus – Men, take note. Lycopene may offer some benefits in terms of fertility. More research is needed, but there is evidence that lycopene could help with not only sperm count, but also sperm viability. Seems like a good reason to eat more tomatoes to me.

Whole Milk Cheese: This recipe uses sharp, whole milk cheddar cheese because of it’s great flavor. Sharp cheddar is so brilliantly savory and rich, that you don’t need a lot of it. And here’s the good news, cheese might be a great fertility food (see below) plus it’s also a fabulous source of bone-building calcium.

  • Fertility Focus – The Nurses Health study revealed that women who ate ate least one serving of whole milk or dairy foods a day were less likely to experience infertility caused by an inability to ovulate. What does this mean for you? It means you can try swaping one serving of your typical low-fat or fat-free dairy foods with their whole milk counterparts. But tread lightly here, as those foods will still be high in calories. Bottom line, make this temporary adjustment but modify other foods in your diet to allow for the extra calories.

 

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Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes


  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Amp up the nutritional value of your grilled cheese by adding delightfully delicious broiled tomatoes.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) whole-grain baguette, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dash Italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the cut baguette on a medium-size sheet pan. Brush the cut sides of the bread with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Slice garlic clove in half and rub over cut sides of the baguette. Place in the oven and toast 1-2 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. To a mixing bowl, add the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and black pepper. Spread out onto a small sheet pan lined with foil. Broil for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Remove and reserve.
  4. Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread slices, then dust with Italian seasoning. Place in the oven and broil 3-4 minutes.
  5. To serve: Distribute the broiled tomatoes on top of toasted bread halves, cut as desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • For more fun and flavor, consider topping with fresh herbs before serving. Fresh, thinly sliced basil or freshly chopped parsley would be a fabulous addition!

Fertility Friday Series Begins Today!

 

Surprise!

I’ve got some exciting news for you. Today marks the official launch of the series “Fertility Friday.” 

“Wait!” I hear you saying. “What in the world does that have to do with food and nutrition and YOU, Sara?”

Let Me Explain.

Great questions everyone and let me say, you just set me up perfectly to explain myself. Here’s the back story, I’ve struggled with infertility. To make a really long story, super short, infertility is a hard, stressful, lonely and emotional journey. But, I’ve learned some things along the way and those things have led to this exciting place.

Divine Intervention!

Divine intervention happened a few months ago when I met fellow fellow dietitian Elizabeth Shaw. To make our long story short, we clicked. She shared her infertility struggles and I shared mine. We talked so much, both lamenting the fact that there wasn’t a book written by dietitians for people going through infertility. That bothered us, so we have taken it upon ourselves to write that book. It’s been a fun, crazy, emotional process, but we’re excited about it. We want you to be excited about it too. April 24-30 marks RESOLVE’s National Infertility Week, making this a perfect time to kick things off. To bring awareness to a topic that is near and dear to our hearts, we have decided to run a series of posts on Friday’s in April dedicated to food, nutrition and fertility. We’re calling it Fertility Friday. It’s our way of showing you the fun stuff you’ll see in our book, but also a great platform to get people talking about infertility.

Offering Support

We hope you’ll share in our excitement as we tackle a subject that deserves more attention. Let’s make it a point to support everyone’s journey, no matter how easy or hard. Let’s take the steps necessary to live the Infertility Awareness Week motto of #startasking. To you, I say, #askaway!

And don’t forget to check out Liz’s site Shaw Simple Swaps for her introduction to Fertility Friday!

 

Fertility Fridays

 

Click here for more about National Infertility Awareness Week and RESOLVE.

French Lentil Salad with Spinach and Feta Cheese

Easy.

That’s what everyone wants right, for everything in life to be a little easier? No lines at the post office, no red lights on the way to work or perhaps someone around who can clean your house and do your laundry? Well, sure that would be fine and wonderful, but it’s just not possible. The good news though? There is one area of your life that I can assure you can be easier, and that’s meal preparation.

“How?” you ask.

Just ask my friends at the Recipe Redux. The theme this month is simplicity and simplicity to them means recipes that contain less than 7 ingredients. Brilliant! My recipe for this month is super easy. I start with French green lentils, which are earthy and delicious and hold their shape and texture well. Then, I add fresh veggies in the way of bell peppers, cucumber and spinach. I jazz it up with a little fresh parsley and feta cheese and then use simple vinaigrette-based salad dressing to put that exclamation point on EASY! And there you go, in just about 30 minutes, you’ve made an amazing lentil salad that is not only delicious, but nutritious. Bravo!

And when you’re done making this recipe, check out the recipes below for more inspiration. They’re all super delicious and nutritious, less than 7 ingredients and EASY!

And Here are the Pretty Pictures of my French Lentil Salad:

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French Lentil Salad with Spinach and Feta Cheese


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple, yet elegant salad made with green French lentils, fresh spinach, cucumbers, parsley and feta cheese.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup green or French lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 cups spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup seeded, diced cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, cleaned, dried and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing

Instructions

  1. Place lentils in a medium-size pot and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in salt and continue to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Spread on a sheet pan to cool or, rinse in cool water.
  2. To a large salad bowl, add the cooled lentils, spinach, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, feta cheese and cooled lentils. Drizzle dressing over the vegetables and lentils, then toss to combine. Add salt and black pepper, if desired.

Notes

  • Makes 4 1/2 cups

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 175
  • Sugar: 3
  • Sodium: 307
  • Fat: 5
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 23
  • Protein: 10
  • Cholesterol: 7

Eating Well Meal Plan Series: “Just Tell Me What to Eat.”

It would be nice if someone just told you what to eat sometimes, right? I get plenty of clients telling me they would love a dietitian to follow them around and make their meal choices for them. If only we had the time! The good news is, I worked with Eating Well Magazine for their March/April issue to set up a 1500 calorie meal plan to help. This month’s meal plan is unique because it contains no added sugar. This is a challenge because many of the foods we eat (including bread!) contain sugar. Just to clarify, the sugar we want you to enjoy in moderation is the kind that gets added to foods. Things that are sweetened that aren’t naturally sweet. So fruit is not in this category.

This meal plan will set you up for success. You’ll get those 1500 calories all from whole foods and the day even ends with a delicious dessert! So while I can’t follow you around and tell you what to eat, you can use this meal plan as a guide. You’ll hopefully learn a few things from the plan and be more confident in your future food choices.

Stay tuned for more meal plans!

NOSH_JustTell ma16

Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette


It’s time to break out the salad bowl!

And it’s time to switch things up a bit. Yes, romaine is good and so are tomatoes and all of the other “usual” salad suspects, but why not try something new? What would you say to Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette?

“That’s too fancy!” Is that perhaps your answer? I sure hope not because that’s just not true. Yes, it may sound fancy, but the ingredients are simple and the recipe is easy. See, not fancy at all!

My new salad obsession just happens to begin with my favorite green, baby arugula. There’s just something special about that little green leaf. It’s just so….spicy and interesting. And I like my food spicy and interesting! When you pair arugula with dried chopped apricots (for a little sweetness), sliced apples, pistachios, feta cheese and champagne vinaigrette, you’ve got a unique salad that is incredibly interesting (and nutritious).

So bust out that bowl and salad tongs and get mixing!

The Pretty Pictures of My Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette:

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Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

Arugula tastes divine tossed with dried apricots, pistachios, fresh apple and a crisp champagne vinaigrette!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 4 cups baby arugula, washed (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 medium apple, cored and sliced into thin strips or julienned (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios, roughly chopped (1 ounce)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey and vinegar. Pour in the olive oil and whisk until combined. Stir in the dried thyme.
  2. To a large salad or mixing bowl, add the baby arugula along with the apple, apricots, feta cheese and pistachios. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  3. Portion onto plates and enjoy!

Notes

  • Make it meal! Just add sliced chicken or garbanzo beans.
  • Recipe makes about 3 tablespoons dressing.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 175
  • Sugar: 5
  • Sodium: 171
  • Fat: 12
  • Saturated Fat: 3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 14
  • Protein: 4
  • Cholesterol: 8

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Besides waffles, I love cookies.

I always have, and I likely always will. In fact, I’m convinced I’ll be the old lady at the nursing home hoarding cookies and scarfing them down in my rocking chair, collecting a pile of crumbs on my nylon pants. Hopefully it’ll be a nursing home with a good housekeeper. 😉
But, I digress. My point is, besides tasting awesome, there’s just something special about a good cookie. It evokes happy childhood memories and can make a day that wasn’t so great, pretty awesome. While my heart belongs to the chocolate chip cookie, I also have a big place in my heart for the oatmeal cookie. Oatmeal and chocolate is actually a favorite of mine too, go figure. But, because a certain someone in New York said she needed an oatmeal cookie recipe, I wanted to be creative and “think outside the box” with this recipe. It didn’t take long for me to come up with Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies. No chocolate, but still so delicious.

Are cookies a health food?

Oh no, no they’re not. But here’s the deal. Cookies exist because of that special-ness I mentioned above. So, you must enjoy them on occasion. How can I say this as a dietitian? Well, because I am a real person. I know that we all need to treat ourselves and I know that we can do it in a way that won’t destroy all of the other good things we’ve done to nourish our bodies. So, here’s the deal. Use some whole wheat flour, get rid of some of the sugar and keep the portion small.
Now treat yourself by making and enjoying these Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies!

And here, the beauty shots of my Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies:

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Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A classic oatmeal cookie made with dried apples and plenty of cinnamon.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (75g)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (77g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (I used salted butter)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apple (about 1 ounce)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (183 grams)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350’F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, whip the butter until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Blend about 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, then add the flour mixture. Blend on low speed until just combined. Add the apple, oats and pecans and mix until just combined.
  4. Drop dough by the rounded spoonful (about 20 grams per cookie) on the prepared cookie sheets, a couple of inches apart from each other. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly on the pan before moving to a rack to cool.

Notes

  • Makes about 30 cookies.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 2401
  • Sugar: 165
  • Sodium: 1369
  • Fat: 120
  • Saturated Fat: 62
  • Unsaturated Fat: 49
  • Trans Fat: 4
  • Carbohydrates: 310
  • Protein: 31
  • Cholesterol: 430

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

What? Another quick bread recipe? Oh yes, yes it is.

You know why? It’s because my family loves a good snack, so I’m always looking for new ways to nourish them. Since pumpkin season is officially over, I’ve moved on to bananas.
Like pumpkin, bananas are incredibly versatile and add great moisture, interest and natural sweetness to baked goods. I love them for that and for the nutritional goodies they supply.

Read More

WGN Lunch Break Segment: The Recipes

Stock your freezer with some delicious foods you made yourself.

These recipes aren’t just simple, they’re tasty and nutritious! 

When life gets busy or hectic, you’ll feel good about reaching for these awesome freezer foods!

 
Freezer Waffle Beauty

Click here for the Basic Whole Wheat Freezer Waffles recipe

 

Easy Freezer Burrito Beauty

Click here for the Easy Freezer Burritos recipe

 

Click here for the Freezer Quinoa recipe