Dieting, Recipes

Recipe: Red, White & Blue Kefir Smoothie

Kefir smoothieSince starting Dr. Mike Moreno’s 17 Day Diet in mid-May, I have lost 15 pounds and 7 inches. One of my favorite recipes that you can have for breakfast, lunch or a snack during all phases of the diet is the Kefir smoothie.

I was completely unaware of Kefir until this diet. In essence, it is a drinking yogurt with a lot of great nutritional qualities including the “good” bacteria that keeps your digestive tract happy. You can find Kefir in most mainstream grocery stores and other stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

The recipe in “17 Day Diet” is pretty basic with some Kefir, and fruit or jam to add some flavor. While fresh fruit is the best and has the most health benefits, I still keep bags of frozen fruits at the ready – strawberries, peaches, mangoes and blueberries – so I can have a smoothie whenever I want one. (I find they are really great after a Zumba workout.)

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Cuisine - Desserts, Places - Massachusetts, Places - Milwaukee, Places - New England, Places - Wisconsin, Recipes

A Conversation with Yuval Zaliouk of Almondina

Yuval and his grandmother Dina - AlmondinaI had the great pleasure of talking last week with Yuval Zaliouk, the owner of Almondina Cookies. His company bakes up some great, wafer-thin cookies that are a versatile snack and healthy, too. Almondina started as a secret recipe from his grandmother, Dina. So, what a perfect tribute right before Mother’s Day than hearing from Yuval about his grandmother’s influence and the story behind how her secret cookie recipe became a cookie sensation.

CR: Tell me how the Almondina company and cookie began.
YZ: The whole idea really started in grandma Dina’s kitchen about 80 years ago in Israel.  She was a fantastic cook and invented this cookie about 80 years ahead of its time. It has no cholesterol, no fat, and is all natural, and she created it 80 years ago. As a tribute to my grandmother, Dina, and because the cookies are made mostly of almonds, we decided to combine the words for our company name. Today, our company has a slogan: “The delicious cookie without the guilt.” And, our mission is: “To put a delicious healthful cookie on every American table.”

CR: Where does the inspiration for the flavors come from? What is your favorite?
YZ: There are 10 flavors. The most popular is “The Original” cookie. This is the one that I recommend that everyone starts with. When you start with that one, you will taste the beautiful cookie that my grandmother Dina invented so many years ago. All of the other flavors are just a derivation of “The Original.” I would say its my grandmother’s inspiration, but my doing.

My favorite is “The Original.” But, I’m a symphony conductor, too. People always ask, “What is your favorite piece?” And I say, “The one that I’m currently conducting.” It’s the same with these cookies. My favorite is the one I’m crunching on at the moment.

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Taste Test

Taste Test: Blueberry-Flavored Greek Yogurt

I’m happy to welcome another guest poster to our little family here – My dear hubby Brett! We recently switched to Greek-style yogurt at home. So we decided to do a taste test of one of the most popular fruit flavors out there.

Take it away, Brett!

Yogurt has always been one of my favorite snacks. The all time greatest for me is Dannon’s coffee-flavored yogurt. The rich taste of coffee in a fun-size snack was enough to fill me up. Recently, my wife has discovered a love for Greek yogurt. It is a love bordering on obsession. Every time we head to the supermarket we end up with five or  six packages to head home with. I may pick on her about her new-found food crave, but Greek yogurt has less sugar, less fat and is higher in protein than it’s regular yogurt brothers and sisters. Because of this, it is a snack that I am happy she enjoys.

Christina decided that she wanted to do a taste test of blueberry Greek yogurts. We decided on blueberry because almost every company has a blueberry yogurt. The seven contenders in alphabetical order are Chobani®, Dannon®, Oikos™ (by Stonyfield), Fage™, Trader Joe’s, YoCrunch® and Yoplait. To keep it fair, we decided to leave the crunchies out of the YoCrunch yogurt.
Greek Yogurt Taste Test ContendersMy job was to come up with a grading system and help with the tasting. I decided on a scale of 1 to 5 to rank the yogurts on the amount of blueberry flavor, the consistency, the amount of fruit and sweetness. Our ideal yogurt would have a lot of blueberry flavor, be thick in consistency, have a lot of visible fruit and not be overly sweet.
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Cuisine - American, Recipes

Recipe: Apple Sauce Pork Chops

This is a really simple recipe that I created with ingredients we already had in the fridge and cupboard for a delicious meal using that other white meat. This is designed for two people but you could easily double it for a family dinner for four.


  • 2 thick, boneless pork chops
  • 1/3 cup light, brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (I used Trader Joe’s Maple Agave Syrup)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, natural apple sauce (I like Musselman’s, but this would be really good with homemade apple sauce, too.)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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