healthy cooking

Quinoa Pilaf with Raspberries

Recipe by Driscolls

1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cups quinoa
1/8 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 cups finely chopped parsley
1/2 cups finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cups dried currants
1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cups) Raspberries

In a medium saucepan, combine broth, quinoa and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Fold parsley, walnuts, currants and raspberries gently into hot quinoa.
Let stand covered 5 minutes.
Serve warm or room temperature.

Substitute couscous for quinoa. Adjust broth amount and cook time according to couscous package directions.
Amount Per 1 cup

Nutrition and Lifestyle Factors to Help Decrease Breast Cancer Risk

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This topic is very personal to me because, while there is not one thing we can do to prevent breast cancer, there are many things we can do to help reduce our risk. Early detection and treatment is critical, and therefore the practice of regular mammograms and self-exams are essential. When it comes to nutrition and lifestyle choices, there are many things we can do to decrease risk.

This month I am sharing a practical but very realistic guide on what you can start implementing today to decrease your risk of Breast Cancer. Read and share it with your loved ones! Tell me what you plan to implement to "fight" breast cancer!

1. Exercise. Participating in regular physical activity can help decrease estrogen levels, which can decrease the risk for breast cancer.

How to incorporate: For those who don’t enjoy traditional forms of exercise such as walking, jogging, or participating in a structured fitness program, here are a few alternatives that will still have your heart pumping (and actually may be way more fun!)

  • Sign up for a dance class. Zumba, ballroom dancing, hip-hop, and ballet are all forms of exercise just not in a traditional format.

  • Schedule 30 minutes a few times a week to play outside with children or grandchildren.

  • Playing an old fashion game of kickball or soccer will certainly get the heart pumping and will be creating lasting memories.

  • Wear a pedometer and just challenge yourself to 10,000 steps per day – that is like walking 3 miles! Once reaching the 10,000 steps per day goal, increase it to 12,000, then 15,000. The little extra steps will really make a difference and you won’t even need the gym.

2. Eat a serving of beans or lentils at least twice a week.

How to incorporate: One night a week swap the traditional meat and potatoes dinner for beans and rice (preferably brown). Make this interesting by cooking white beans, lentil stew, split pea soup, and red beans and rice. No need to negate the health benefits of beans by adding high fat processed meats to the pot; instead try going vegetarian one night a week. For the second serving of beans try serving black beans, lima beans, or black-eyed peas as a side dish to the family meal.

3. Increase fruit and vegetable intake. By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables instead of focusing on just one food, the total nutrition profile is increased. Research has found a positive correlation between a decrease in breast cancer risk and an increase in the following vitamins and minerals: vitamin D, C, A, and E, and calcium – just to name a few.

How to incorporate: The best way to incorporate this breast cancer-fighting tip is to think about the plate as a rainbow. Start the day with a antioxidant and fiber-packed blueberry shake, for lunch have a color full tossed salad with broccoli, yellow squash, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and topped with salmon and for dinner set a goal to have at least 3 different colors of foods onto your plate (i.e. sweet potatoes, broccoli, black beans, red, yellow and green bell pepper stir fry).

4. Increase the intake of monounsaturated fats and include more omega-3 fatty acids into the diet.

How to incorporate: Include more legumes, nuts, and seeds, baked seafood, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseeds into the daily food routine. Add fresh ground flaxseeds to a breakfast smoothie, opt to eat more seafood and less red meat, try snacking on nuts and seeds instead of traditional packaged foods.

More Cancer-Fighting Tips:

  • Avoid tobacco

  • Decrease high-fat foods and meat intake

  • Increase fiber intake

  • Limit alcohol

  • Including a daily garlic supplement may be beneficial

  • Eat soy and soy products in moderation

  • One study found that breastfeeding for more than two years may reduce breast cancer risk by half

For additional guidance and support on creating an anti-inflammation, breast cancer-protective diet then contact me today!

Green Goddess Dressing

Recipe by: Siggi’s

  • 1 cup Siggi’s 0% plain skyr

  • ½ avocado

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • ½ cup parsley, roughly chopped

  • ¼ cup tarragon, roughly chopped

  • ¼ cup chives, roughly chopped

  • 3 Tbsp milk

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1Tbsp lemon juice

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine Siggi’s skyr with remaining ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender and puree until smooth. Enjoy as a salad dressing or a dip with vegetables.

Makes 16 servings, Serving Size: 2 Tbsp

Probiotics 101: What They Are and When to Use

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts similar to the microorganisms that naturally live in your gut. They help promote a healthy bacteria balance in the gut by counteracting unhealthy gut bacteria from a poor diet, inflammation, antibiotics, and illnesses. Probiotics help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria.

When it comes to probiotics, scientists have discovered there’s a wide variety of different types and therefore, probiotics are differentiated by the strain of bacteria. If you’ve ever looked for a probiotic, you’ve probably been a little overwhelmed and confused with the long and complicated names. There is a good chance you’ve said something like, “I was told to take a probiotic, but what does Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacteria longum even mean?”

In an effort to help simplify things, I’m sharing a few common strains of probiotics, what ailments they treat, and where to find them.

Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus)

Primary Purpose:

  • Digestion and overall general health. L. acidophilus helps break down sugars such as lactose, into lactic acid. It is also known for protecting against harmful germs.

May also help:

  • Reduce cholesterol

  • Improve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Prevent or reduce diarrhea

  • Improve symptoms of IBS

  • Treat and prevent vaginal yeast infections

  • Boost immune system

Found in: Naturally found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Commonly added to foods such as cheese and yogurt. Can also be found in a supplement.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus (L. rhamnosus)

Primary purpose:

  • Prevent and treat a variety of types of diarrhea, specifically antibiotic-related diarrhea.

May also help:

  • Relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Improve overall gut health

  • Protect against cavities due to the antimicrobial properties.

Found in: Supplements and often added to dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk.

Lactobacillus casei (L. casei)

Primary Purpose:

  • Prevent and treat diarrhea, including infectious diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea and diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics.

May also help:

  • Reduce symptoms of other digestive issues such as constipation, Crohn's disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and ulcerative colitis.

Found in: Fermented foods such as yogurt, milk, and cheese. Also found in supplements.

Bifidobacteria longum (B. longum)

Primary Purpose:

  • Boost immune system

May also help:

  • Decrease inflammation

  • Decrease cholesterol

  • Improve gut health

  • Boost brain function

  • Improves mood

Found in: Naturally found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, and miso.

Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii)

Primary Purpose:

  • Treating rotaviral diarrhea in children and diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

May also help:

  • Acne

  • Diarrhea caused by “bad” bacteria overgrowth in adult

  • Traveler’s diarrhea

  • Diarrhea associated with tube feeding

Found in: S. Boulardii is actually yeast and easiest to take in the over-the-counter supplement form. Can also be found in African fermented foods such as kenkey, ogi, and amasi.

Mediterranean Avocado Toast

Recipe by: California Avocados

A tasty sample of the Mediterranean diet on an easy-to-make avocado toast. California Avocado hummus, salmon and olives make this a delicious lunch, snack or protein-happy breakfast with an excellent source of protein (40% DV) and vitamin D (60% DV).


  • 1 tsp. olive oil, plus additional for drizzling (optional)

  • 4 oz. salmon steak, cut in half

  • ½ ripe, Fresh California Avocado, peeled, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 cup prepared hummus

  • 2 slices rosemary and olive oil bread, or your favorite bread

  • 4 Mediterranean-style olives pitted and halved


  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium.

  2. Add salmon and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until done. Remove skin.

  3. Meanwhile, mash half of the avocado into the hummus. Stir in remaining avocado.

  4. Toast bread, then spread with avocado hummus.

  5. Top with salmon, flaking with a fork if desired, then olives.

  6. If desired drizzle with extra olive oil.

Serving Suggestion: Serve on your favorite whole-grain toast or bagel.

Serves 2

Mason Jar Salad

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegarette

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked

  • 1 medium avocado, diced

  • 1 mango, diced

  • ½ cup black beans

  • 1 tomato, diced

  • 1/2 red onion, diced

To assemble the salad, place 2 tablespoons of salad dressing in the bottom of the canning jar, followed by 1/2 cup spinach, ½ cup of cooked quinoa, ¼ avocado, 1/4 cup mango, ¼ cup black beans, ¼ tomato, and 1 Tbsp red onion. Twist lid tightly to seal the jar. Shake and serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for future use.

Slow and Easy Ratatouille

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 to 6 hours

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
1 eggplant (about 1 1/4 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced (white base only)
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 (29-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp each: dried basil, rosemary and thyme
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
Ground or smoked pepper to taste
Snipped fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion; cook and stir over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, eggplant and garlic; cook for 5 more minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker with all remaining ingredients except fresh basil and Parmesan. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 6 hours. Serve hot or at room temperature topped with fresh basil and Parmesan. Makes 8 servings.

Quick Stovetop Variation: Prepare as directed above, cooking in a large pot instead of a slow cooker. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

(Reproduced with permission of

What Does Organic Mean?

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

There are four categories of labels relating to the product being “organic”: 

  • “100% Organic” means the product contains all organic ingredients, with the exception of salt and water as these are not certifiable. These products cannot be affected by the “big three”: irradiated, contains genetically engineered organisms (GEO’s), or grown with sewage sludge fertilizer.

  • If the label only says, “Organic,” 95% of the ingredients in the product are organically grown.

  • A label that says, “Made with Organic....,” means that 70% of the ingredients within the product are organic. The “big three” rules apply here, for the 70% organic ingredients as well as the 30% non-organic. The supplier may list up to 3 ingredients that are organic on the front of the label.

  • Labels that list organic ingredients on the side panel of the package contain less than 70% organic ingredients. There can be no organic claims on the front of the label. The “big three” are allowed to be in the non-organic ingredients.

Tropical Avocado “Margarita” Pops

Recipe serving size: 1 pop


  • 1 ripe, fresh avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and mashed

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

  • 1 cup of orange juice

  • ¾ cup lime juice

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup of frozen mango, chopped

  • 8 lime slices

  • 8 popsicle sticks

  • 8 paper cups

Combine avocado, coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice, and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Add mango and pulse until combined.
Divide evenly between 8 paper cups. Top each with a lime slice and popsicle stick.
Freeze until firm.

Watermelon Poke Bowl

This raw fish salad is one of the best of Hawaiian cuisine. It is also rich in the omega-3 fats that are good for your brain and heart. The word "poke" comes from the Hawaiian word for "slice or cut."

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup watermelon juice

  • 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 green onions, cut on the diagonal with whites and greens separated

  • 3 medium cloves garlic or 2 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger root

  • 1/3 white onion, thinly sliced

  • 3/4 pound ahi tuna, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

  • 1 small avocado, diced

  • 2/3 cup diced watermelon

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds

  • serving pickled ginger (sushi ginger or gari)


  • In a medium bowl, mix soy sauce, watermelon juice, chili sauce, oil, the white portion of green onions, garlic, ginger root, and onion. Add tuna, toss and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  • 10 minutes before serving, add avocado and return to refrigerator.

  • Plate as *desired and top with watermelon and green onions, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger.

* Watermelon Poke Bowls can be served as individual portions over rice (seasoned with a touch of rice wine vinegar) as a main dish, in small serving bowls as an appetizer or side dish, or on a large platter for a buffet. Garnish with dried seaweed for extra Hawaiian flare.

Recipe by:

California Avocado Red, White and Blueberry Salsa California Avocados

Add some color to your summer holiday party menu with festive fruit salsa. It’s an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A.

Serves: 4

  • 1/2 sweet white onion, minced

  • 2 ripe, red tomatoes, diced

  • 2 Serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced

  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh mint, cilantro or basil

  • 1 ripe, fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting. Check out our tips for how to choose and use California Avocados.


  • Gently combine all ingredients. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to merge.

Beyond a Sweet Treat: 7 Perks of Dark Chocolate

Beyond simply tasting delicious, a dose of dark chocolate adds a variety of health perks that are sure to have your body (and taste buds) thanking you! The good-for-you properties actually come from the minerals and antioxidants found in the cocoa, hence why the darker the chocolate (think 70% or higher), the better for your health. 

7 Perks of Dark Chocolate

1. Enhances Brain Function.
 Yup, it’s true - a small dose of dark chocolate may help you think better. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, two compounds that can add a short term boost to overall brain function. Theobromine has been found to improve focus, concentration and visual processing of information. Dark chocolate may also improve blood flow to the brain.

2. Rich in Antioxidants including Polyphenols, Flavanols, and Catechins. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidant power, which means the more perks for your health!

3. Decreases Cancer Risk. The antioxidants found in dark chocolate have been found to neutralize free radicals that increase the risk of cancer. Therefore, enjoying a dose of dark chocolate can help decrease cancer risk.

4. Improved Heart Health. Researchers have linked the flavonols in cocoa to decreasing cholesterol levels, blood pressure and arterial plaque.

5. Lowers Blood Pressure. The flavanols in chocolate have been found to support the production of nitric oxide, which in turn helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow.

6. Mood-Boosting. This one comes as no surprise, but there is scientific evidence that supports the fact that dark chocolate really does make people happier. Not only does it add a sweet treat, but it will help boost endorphins, lifting your mood.

7. Bonus Nutrients. While dark chocolate doesn't provide a significant amount of essential nutrients, it is rich in iron, fiber, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

And don’t forget there is no BAD food. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation.

One Sheet Pan Tuscan Chicken


  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts skin on, cut into halves if needed to make each piece equal in size (For a healthier version, remove the skin before cooking)

  • 12 oz small new potatoes, sliced 

  • 8 oz button mushrooms

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced

  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

  • 1 cup green, or black olives, pitted

  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil, or olive oil, divided

  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp raw honey

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 1 tsp thyme

  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped for garnish

  • sea salt & pepper, to your taste 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350f.

  2. Line a baking tray with foil, then place the chicken breast in the middle and the potatoes on the sides.

  3. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil, and season generously with sea salt and pepper.

  4. Roast in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

  5. In a large bowl, add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, sliced onion, garlic and sun dried tomatoes.

  6. Drizzle remaining oil, balsamic vinegar, raw honey and add all the seasonings. Mix well to get all veggies coated.

  7. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add the veggies mixture to the sheet pan, and roast for an additional 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and fully cooked.

  8. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh thyme and season to your taste.

  9. You may keep it in the fridge for a max of 4 days for food prep.


by Rachel Maser @

Tips for Creating Healthy Dining Habits

  1. Fill up on fiber and lean protein. 

    A meal high in protein and fiber can help keep you satisfied and prevent overeating. Use the Fast Casual Cheat Sheet in this newsletter, to help identify best meals to fill you up!

  2. Be stingy with the extras. 

    Things like bacon, cheese, mayo, and salad dressings will not only add to your food bill but also add unnecessary calories and fat to your meal.

  3. Watch out for the sneaky salad toppings. 

    While salads can be a nutrient-packed meal, they can also be higher in calories, fat and sodium than a hamburger. Fancy toppings like cheese, bacon, salad dressing, dried fruit, nuts, and croutons can really add up.

  4. Substitute sides. 

    Most restaurants default to serving fries, chips, onion rings, bread or mashed potatoes as their side. Often these are eaten out of habit and not because you are really hungry and need the extra food. Ask if you can substitute the high-calorie side dish with a side salad and light dressing, steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or a fresh fruit cup.

  5. Embrace the flavors of baked, broiled, grilled chicken or roasted lean meats.

    Avoid fried and battered foods as they are high in calorie, fat and sodium. By shifting your mindset to embrace the flavors of baked, broiled, grilled chicken or roasted lean meats you are opening yourself to a new relationship with food.

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 2 stalks celery, sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth

  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained

  • ¼ cup uncooked pearl barley

  • 2 cups firmly packed chopped fresh spinach/Kale

Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, and barley and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender. Stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted. Season to taste.

Instant Pot White Beans

Cooking beans in the Instant Pot is super fast.
This basic recipe is perfect for flavorful beans that can be used in many ways. Try them in White Bean Hummus, White Bean Pesto Pasta, and White Bean Veggie Burgers.
It’s quick to make, cheaper, healthier and more flavorful than canned beans!

Total time: 35 minutes, Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes


1 (1-lb.) bag Camellia Brand Great Northern Beans, rinsed and sorted

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1-2 teaspoons salt

1 bay leaf

6 cups unsalted vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water


Add all ingredients to the Instant Pot.
Cover, twist to lock the lid, and turn the valve to seal.
Press the Beans/Chili button.
When the timer beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 20 minutes.
Then, turn the valve to vent.

Enjoy cooked beans over rice, or use as you would canned beans. If not using right away, store beans along with any excess liquid, in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

 Makes 6 servings

Recipe by Camellia Brand