Janet's Notebook
Cooking Up A Delicious and Healthy New Year

Chicken Sandwiches w/ Cilantro Lime Mayo

I recently read an editorial piece written by a gentleman who was adamant that moderation is the key to happiness. While at first it seemed like a whopper of a contradiction, I thought about it some more and really like the notion. In this new year, why cut things out? Why deprive ourselves? Why not instead balance ourselves by evening out what we do... and what we eat? There are too many wonderful foods on this planet to eat just a few of 'em. I've been carrying the idea close to my heart and there are a TON of terrific cooks in this Club who are offering up delicious recipes perfectly suited to a balanced diet. (Starvation diets, be gone!)

Ms. Angie Webb is a perfect example of a cook who is balancing tradition and healthfulness in her cooking. Her Mamma Ang's Cavatini has earned this Centennial, CO gal a soft spot in the collective heart of the Kitchen Crew. "My mother used to make Cavatini for me on special occasions," explains Angie. "Unfortunately, I never got her recipe. So, I came up with the closest I could find and added some lower fat options since I try to make healthy food for my family." By substituting whole wheat pastas, lower-fat cheeses and turkey in place of more traditional (and fatty) ingredients, Angie is helping her family stay healthy while at the same time making them happy. "My kids LOVE it," she says. "[They] had seconds AND thirds!" All I can say is thank goodness this recipe makes enough for a crowd... because we just can't get enough.

A great pairing with Ang's Cavatini is the Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze recipe from Denise Lepard. This delightful, nutritious dish also spans the generations. "My mom and grandmother would make this when they had leftover veggies," says Diane. "I've seen this done on so many cooking shows and have made it so often. It never really makes it to the dinner table!" The key to this scrummy recipe is the slow-roasting (or grilling) of the veggies coupled with the syrupy tang of the balsamic vinegar. Beyond that, feel free to mix up the ingredients to suit what you have on hand. "You can swap out the goat cheese for any cheese you prefer, and use any vegetables you like," says Diane, who also suggests serving the veggies with crunchy Italian bread or pita chips. The versatility of this recipe is just as divine as its flavor.

Soups are another great way to lighten the load while still keeping a happy tummy. And by making recipes like soup from scratch, you can more easily moderate the amount of salt and such that you're eating.

Diane Eldridge of Chattanooga, TN knocked our socks off with her recipe for Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup. While we love the canned stuff too, it was a fun change of pace to whip up our very own tomato soup from start to finish. Diane came up with this warm hug of a recipe while looking for a way to heat things up on a cold day. What makes it so good? Well, in part it's its simplicity. By combining chopped tomatoes and 1% milk with aromatic herbs, Diane has captured the soulfulness of classic tomato soup while moderating all the guilt-inducing ingredients. Love!

The only way to make Diane's magnificent moderation even more tasty is by pairing her soup with a savory Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Portland's Lauren Mitchell! Lauren keeps things light by using boneless, skinless chicken breasts sprinkled with taco seasoning. Grill them to perfection, then top with her ought-to-be-world-famous Cilantro Lime Mayo. "This was a spur of the moment idea that turned out great, super fast and healthy," says Lauren, who makes sure to use light mayo when whipping up her sandwiches. Add avocado, tomato and red onion for a delicious and nutritious lunch.

Who knew that balanced eating could be so delicious? That article I read was right: balancing the stress in our lives and what we give our bodies is truly key. And while it may take some time to get there, each baby step can make a heck of a difference. I'm starting small and working my way up... without sacrificing the richness of occasional indulgences as I go. In fact, I can't wait for the moment when the only thing I have to worry about balancing in life is the plate of cookies on my lap.

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Rose Selvar - Jan 9, 2012
Welcome Sherrill to this site. I'm sure you will find and make lots of cooking friends on here. It is awesome as each shares recipes and ideas...and if you have questions, they are willing to help with answers or at least a suggestion or two. I know you'll love it here!
Stephanie Dodd - Jan 8, 2012
Welcome; you will love this site!!!
Sherrill Salom - Jan 8, 2012
Ok, ok, ok...I LOVE it here! It feels like being in the kitchen with my sisters and my mom and grandma! I too found this site because of a recipe posted on Facebook. I had no idea that clicking that Preacher Cake recipe would bring me "home" to lots of fun, cool ladies, (and probably men) who cover the whole range of cooks. I've been here 20 minutes and you got me. Can't wait to post, swap recipes, try recipes, (going for that Hugely yummy-sounding tomato soup) and share my cooking tips and ideas. Love to Millie...God bless you for what you have gone through and what you're doing. As for our hostess, Janet... love the picture... can't wait to get into this website! Fun!
Stephanie Dodd - Jan 7, 2012
Could I please be added to your mailing list for the next Blue Ribbon Showcase. Thanks so much.
Millie Bianco - Jan 7, 2012
Hi, Janet, this is off topic but my computer will not do Windows live mail thru the contact us area. Just received the apron and was impressed with the quality of the material, cute logo, adjustability, coverage and deep pockets. I first learned of this site from recipe prompt on Facebook and soon learned that it was so much more. I started discussions and formed a new group on a topic that has long been taboo for women (and men) to speak about, domestic violence. Following my daughter's murder, I became a National Victims Advocate, published a book, have a website at milliebianco.com and have been asked to Washington twice. It's proven to an outlet for women (and men) and my aim is to educate because I found out that what the Amrican public doesn't know is what makes up the American public. Thanks for the opportunity and kudos to the site!!!
Diane Wells - Jan 6, 2012
Hi Janet, I just love looking at all the recipes on this site. I have made several and am making a pumpkin soup right this minute. May I make a suggestion? Since I cook with only fresh ingredients with a very few exceptions and I have avoided heavily salted foods for years, It would be very helpful if you could ad a little symbol to recipes that use canned soup in them, for instance, it would save me and others in navigating the site, from weeding through many recipes made with ingredients that we are avoiding. Thanks for considering this suggestion.
Amelia Higgins - Jan 5, 2012
I had a Nutrition professor once whose favorite saying was: "Moderation in all things, including moderation." I love that idea, that we can give ourselves the option of feasting occasionally, as long as we keep it in balance. What's the fun of a life without treats?
Jean Abram - Jan 5, 2012
I have high blood pressure.I also had very very high cholesterol.I was forced to change my eating habits.I was on medications supposedly for the rest of my life.After my diet change,I can proudy say I am off most of my medications.I ony have to take Lopressor for the blood pressure.
I found out that Tomatoes have a very beneficial vitamin called lycopene.However this vitamin is most active after the tomatoes have been cooked.
This is from the American Cancer Society,Tomatoes are the most concentrated food source of lycopene, although apricots, guava, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit are also significant sources.
Studies that looked at lycopene levels in the blood found that levels were higher after people ate cooked tomatoes than after they ate raw tomatoes or drank tomato juice.
This suggests that lycopene in cooked tomato products such as tomato sauce or paste may be more readily absorbed by the body than lycopene in raw tomatoes.
Now I litely fry my tomatoes before adding them to my salads. litely blackened red tomatoes taste very good.Try adding a few slices of watermelon,avocados,a few raspberries,and a few crushed walnuts,with lowfat dressing.Very tasty and very healthy.
Diane Atherton - Jan 5, 2012
I'm in total agreement, moderation is the key! I love good food and would feel deprived to give it up for rabbit food. When I want to lose a few pounds, I cut portions in 1/2 and still enjoy the foods I love! Congrats to all who made it in Janet's Notebook!! Awesome recipes!!
D' Bramlett - Jan 4, 2012
Should have spell checked....deprivation not derprivation. Oops!
D' Bramlett - Jan 4, 2012
Absolutely moderation is the key. My son has lost 70 lbs and still losing by watching what he eats not derprivation. He pays close attention to portion sizes. He walks/jogs at least 4 times a week. My doctor explained it to me this way, think of how our ancestors ate. Lean meats, fresh veggies and fruits and whole grains. Now don't get me wrong, we like french fries and pizza just as much as the next guy. We eat them, sparingly. Again, moderation is definitely the key! :) Good luck and happy eating.
Colleen Sowa - Jan 4, 2012
Congratulations everyone!!! Diane... I especially congratulate you my friend! xo
anne muzzy - Jan 4, 2012
Can't wait to try the tomato soup. I've been having problems with my blood pressure so will have to use mrs. dash instead of the season salt but I think it will work. I also agree that moderation is key!!
Carol Harpel - Jan 3, 2012
Catherine - Congratulations!! I'm glad your brain took over!!
Catherine Zaring - Jan 3, 2012
I learned this lesson over 2 years ago when I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. Looked at the boring meals that the dietitian gave me, did some research and decided that I could still enjoy food as long as I balanced my foods properly and used portion control, i.e. divided plate method. It has worked for me...I have lost over 30 pounds and am now considered "pre-diabetic". If this carb queen can do it anyone can! :)