5 Simple Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping from Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz has some great ideas around nutrition. Here are some simple shopping tips I’ve learned from Dr. Oz (paraphrased)

Fruits and Veggies

Dont put these things in your cart or in your mouth!!

1. Simple Sugars or Carbs – stick with fiber rich complex carbs

2. Meats high in Nitrates and saturated fats – cold cuts, bacon, sausages.

3. Anything in a box or a can with more than 6 ingredients and with stuff you cant even pronounce!

4. Fake Health Foods – Marketeers use buzz words like “low-fat” or “contains whole grains”. This doesnt mean they’re healthy or good fuel for your body.

5. Canned foods – nearly all canned foods are ridiculously high in sodium – anything in a can can be made better with fresh ingredients.

Stick with fresh foods as much as possible and when you do buy something someone else made, check the ingredients and if your Granny didnt put it in hers, you shouldnt put it in yours!

Do you have any tips to make the dreaded grocery run more healthy? Share them with us in the Comments below!

Quinoa Pizza Bites!

Quinoa Pizza Bites

Quinoa Pizza Bites

I’ve been experimenting with low-glycemic foods and Quinoa is certainly something that has caught my eye. I love pizza bites and this recipe is a great appetizer or snack – only 145cals for 3 pieces :-)


1 C Quinoa
2 LGeggs
1/2 C minced shallot
1 C grated Italian cheese
2 Tsp minced garlic
1 Tbls Italian Seasoning
4 Oz diced pepperoni
1 Tbls red pepper flakes

* Marina sauce for dipping


1. Prepare the Quinoa as directed on the package (similar to rice)
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Combine all ingredients and mix well
4. Grease a mini muffin tin and press a spoonful of the mixture into each cup
5. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
6. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm with sauce for dipping.

Mrs. Chowbelly tried a couple of these at the end of a hard day and pronounced them “Amazing! I could have chowed the whole bowl!!”

I’ll bet your family will feel the same – get creative, you can add just about any pizza ingredient you like, just dice it small so that it fits well into the mini muffin pan.  There’s no end to the combinations you could create!

Here is an example of the mini-muffin pan I like best – Rachael Ray’s Oven Lovin’ Non-Stick 24-Cup Mini Muffin PanAmazon Image

5 Low Glycemic Index Eating Tips

VeggiesAs Chowbelly transitions to Chowbelly-Lite, we are adopting to a diet with foods that are lower on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale. This is a ranking of foods on a scale of 0 to 100 with the higher-number foods being digested faster and triggering rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Food with low GI scores (under 55) are digested more slowly.

Below are 5 tips to eat healthier and give our bodies the nutrients they need.

1. Add plenty of fiber-rich veggies and fruit to your diet. Tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple and mango is much higher on the index than fruits like apple, pears and cherries.

2. Include potatoes and white rice as accents to your meal and not a predominant portion.

3. The much-maligned carbohydrate is your body’s main source of energy. But wise choices will provide you with nutritious fuel that is slowly absorbed and helps sustain your energy levels. Select grains that are least processed or refined. Whole grains, long grain or brown rice should be chosen over their higher-GI alternatives such as the creamy arborio rice used in Risotto or sticky jasmine rice used in some forms of Asian cooking. A good rule of thumb is to eat foods that contain at least 4g of fiber per serving. The good news: Potatoes are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. A high-GI potato becomes a low-GI option if you simply add some healthy fat such as a little olive oil or plain greek yogurt. The unsaturated fat helps slow the absorption of the potato’s carbohydrates and allows your body to extract the maximum number of nutrients possible.

Amazon ImageOne great tool to help increase the use of super healthy olive oil is a simple mister like the Misto Gourmet Stainless-Steel Olive Oil Sprayer. This lets you use your favorite olive oil just like you might a synthetic aerosol cooking spray or fake butter sprayer.

4. Eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages and limit 100% fruit juice consumption to 8oz per day. One trick to help eliminate soda and other chemical-laden soft drinks is to infuse water with fruit flavors.

Amazon ImageYou can do this a number of ways, but having a Fruit Infusion Pitcher will help you keep flavorful beverage options easy at hand in your refrigerator all day.

5. Include lean protein with each meal – Proteins are crucial for building muscle, stabilizing hormones and stimulating the immune system. Between meals, protein coupled with unsaturated fats make perfect snacks that will help keep you full and full of energy throughout the day. Olive oil, nuts, avocados, seeds and nut butters are healthy fats have a slow energy release to sustain your energy reserves.

What are some ways that you stack your diet with low GI foods? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below!

My Top 5 Cookbooks

Christmas is soon approaching and cookbooks make fantastic gifts for the budding chef in your family. These are some of my favorites. I’m sure you’ll like them too.

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

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For those of you who haven’t yet heard of Tim Ferriss, he’s the mastermind behind The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich and quite an interesting guy. This book, although a bit manic at times, is full of Ferriss’ trademark way of breaking tasks down into simple chunks that can be easily learned and executed.

Next is Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast

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Although, this isn’t Nigella’s latest book (Nigellissima: Easy Italian) I do think it’s one of her best and the recipes are more appealing to me.

Of course, a close contender is Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner

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And finally, Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible

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I’m a sucker for Paula Deen’s homestyle cooking and her quick wit. The rumors that she swears like a sailor makes her even a bot more endearing!

Surprise someone on your Christmas List with something nice, unless they;ve been naughty!!

If you’re as quick as I think you are, you probably noticed there’s actually only 4 listed – that 5th spot is reserved for when I finally get around to compiling the Chowbelly Chronicles!



Masaman Curry Chicken

14-masaman chicken completed dishMasaman Curry is one of my favorite Thai dishes and a way that I judge Thai Restaurants when I visit.  Masaman is a rich, slightly sweet curry from Southern Thailand. It’s frequently served with beef or chicken, but can also be made with tofu, seafood or pork.  The term Masaman may actually be a derivation of the word muslim, which is the origin of this dish.

Last night I noticed a Masaman sauce available at our local grocery store and figured it would be a good night to try this out. Many of you know that Rachel has never tried Thai food and is somewhat leery of many asian dishes after her mission trips to South Korea! Scroll through and take a look at how I put this together and at the end we’ll see if Rachel likes it :-)

1-lb of boneless/skinless chicken
2 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Lg sweet onion
1 Sweet red pepper
8-oz fresh, sliced mushrooms
1-Tbs Vegetable Oil
Masaman Curry Sauce
Crushed red pepper

I began by slicing up the chicken breasts and cooking them over medium heat in a large saute pan with 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.

1-sliced raw chicken 2-sauteed chicken

Next, as the chicken cooked, I peeled and diced the Yukon Gold potatoes.  These went into a salted pot of boiling water to get tender while the chicken sizzled away.


Next up, the Sweet Onion and Sweet Red Pepper.

4-sweet yellow onion 5-sweet red pepper

These got sliced and chopped coarsely.

6-sliced onions 7-chopped red peppers




About this time I got the rice started – I really like Jasmine rice for it’s stickiness and fragrant taste.




After cleaning, washing and slicing some fresh mushrooms, I added all of the veggies to the skillet with the nearly cooked chicken.

9-skillet 10-mushrooms

Now its time to add the Masaman sauce – yeah, I know it’s cheating, but since I have never made this I figured I could use a crutch! Next time, I promise, all fresh ingredients! I added the entire jar to the saute pan, turned the heat up to High and brought the entire mixture to a boil, then reduced the heat, covered the pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

11-masaman 13-masaman simmering

The final dish turned out quite tasty!

14-masaman chicken completed dish

And Yes! Rachel tried it and LOVED it! Smile I think we may have a Thai-convert in the making!!

Check out my favorite Thai Cookbook

Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes
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West African Peanut Soup

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here and if anyone is still listening, I’m very sorry. 2010 was a hectic year for our family with more drama than a body has a right to! Looking forward to fresh starts in 2011 and posting here more – stay tuned!

West African Peanut SoupToday, I wanted to tell you about a peanut soup that I’ve adapted over the years. I made this first for Rachel when she was pregnant with the Jackopotamus – she was getting antsy and wanted to bring on labor without being induced. Well, let me tell you, we tried some pretty crazy things – this soup being one of them! According to some folklore/wives tales, this soup can bring on labor – it didnt work for us, but we did discover a nice, warm dish for a cold Saturday afternoon.

This soup has chicken broth and coconut milk as it’s base. You can vary the amount of broth based on how thick or thin you prefer. The heat factor is best adjusted through the application of cayenne. I usually use 1/4 tsp, but make sure there’s a shaker of cayenne on the table for those of us who like it hot!


2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts cut in bite-size chunks
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced (petite)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
⅔ cup natural chunky peanut butter
1 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
Chopped peanuts, scallions and cilantro for garnish


First, cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces (About 1”x1”). Season the chicken breasts, and cook in 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick pan until well browned and nearly cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and set aside.
Next, Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan, and cook onion and garlic until soft. Add curry and cayenne, and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a large pot.
Combine sweet potato, tomatoes and chicken stock in the pot. Simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the chicken back into the pot and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes).
Finally, add peanut butter and coconut milk, and heat through. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sprinkled-in cayenne.
Garnish with chopped peanuts, scallions and cilantro to serve

The Elusive Amogio Sauce

Alas, my beautiful and charming Mrs. Chowbelly is not the first, there was another before her – but that’s a tale for another time. The ex-Mrs Chowbelly is Sicilian and can whip up anything in the kitchen with just what she has laying around. You know, divorce can be a cantankerous thing and all parties lose a part of themselves. But sometimes its the small things you wish you could take with you. One example of that is her Amogio Sauce recipe.  Amogio is like an Italian salsa – it can be eaten on meat, fish, poultry, bread or pasta. Amogio recipes vary from region to region in Italy and even moreso from family to family. The ex_Mrs.Chowbelly wont part with her secret for anyone! I’ve even sent our 23-year old daughter on covert missions to look through her recipe boxes and we’ve come up empty! Throughout the past 6 or 7 years I have tried to recreate it a few times and have been sorely disappointed. This time, however, I think I’ve got it! Please give feedback and let me know how your family makes this amazing condiment.

Chowbelly’s Amogio

1/2 C.Finely diced tomatoes
¼ C. Olive oil
¼ C. Fresh lemon juice
2 Tbls Fresh minced garlic
1 Tbls Fresh chopped mint
¼ Tsp Red Pepper flakes
¼ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Finely ground White Pepper

Add all ingredients in a non-reactive storage container and allow to combine flavors several hours before serving.

ex-Mrs.Chowbelly: If you’re listening, am I close?

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

HersheysCakeMrs. Chowbelly loves chocolate cake and during a moment of inspiration a few weeks after she gave birth to BabyBelly-Ellie I wanted to make her a tasty treat. Those of you that know me know that baking isnt my thing. I have Attention-Deficit-Disorder way too bad to pay attention to the exacting measurements and precision that baking requires. So whenever I do bake, it’s a labor of love and requires immense concentration – glad you liked it Honey!

I discovered this recipe in a Hershey’s Best-loved Recipes cookbook that my friend, Dawn, gave me for Christmas a few years ago. Take a look and try it yourself!!

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350-degrees. Spray 9×13 pan with floured baking spray or grease and flour.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate smaller bowl. Add these liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients in the larger bowl and mix together until combined. Slowly add water while beating with an electric mixer – the batter will be very thin. Pour batter into 9×13 pan.
3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes – check doneness by inserting a wooding toothpick near the center of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked completely through. If it comes out with some batter clinging to it, cook for a few more minutes.
4. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
5. Prepare chocolate frosting below or substitute your own favorite.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternate adding powdered sugar and mild while mixing with an electric mixer. Continue beating to desired consistency.
2. Stir in vanilla. Add a small amount of additional milk if necessary to thin the consistency.

I added mini chocolate chips and some chocolate syrup for an extra special touch! Other ideas to dress it up a bit might be adding toasted coconut, colorful sprinkles, chopped pecans or even a light dusting of powdered sugar!

Weird snack combinations from SeriousEats

Weird Snack Combinations?

Weird Snack Combinations?

I was taking a few minutes to myself this afternoon and saw an interesting post over at SeriousEats The post was about weird snack combinations that just taste right – although you might blanche at the thought, the taste can be spectacular – for example, the blog post started off with Frito’s and Nutella!

One of my all-time favorite weird combo’s was a sammich Mrs. Chowbelly made me several years ago right after we first got married. She thought she was being a smart-aleck by putting the kitchen sink on a sammich she made me – it had peanut-butter, Nutella, Marshmallow Fluff, M&M’s, Hershey’s Chocolate syrup and some sweetened coconut flakes!!! Yes, it put me in a sugar coma, but it was FANTASTIC!

Other weird combo’s include:

  • Peanut-butter, marshmallow Fluff, chocolate chips and a banana wrapped by a cinammon tortilla
  • Wheat Thins, Irish Cheddar and jalopeno jelly
  • White Cheddar Cheez-Its, Blue Moon Pale Ale and . . . well, that’s it really!

So how about you?
Have any weird combinations you care to share?

Chicken Ciao-Belly



I am a big fan of the AllRecipes.com website. I get a daily email from them with awesome recipes and a great community that tests out each recipe and provides feedback and interesting twists. Last week I got an email with an interesting sounding recipe that they called Chicken Milano. The recipe sounded yummy with a creamy sun-dried pepper sauce served over pan-fried chicken filets and fettuccine. There were a lot of variations recommended by others who had tried the recipe and of course I am never content to leave well-enough alone! I am going to be making this dish for some wonderful friends who have just given birth to their second child. So I had to test out my modifications and my favorite guinea pigs are Nana and Pop-Pop! Pop-Pop barely spoke until his plate was clean and everyone else gave thumbs-up as well!


Below is my version that I am calling Chicken Ciao-Belly (in keeping with the Italiano theme).



2 tbl. vegetable oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbl. butter

2 tsp. minced garlic

1/3 C. sun-dried tomatoes (diced)

8oz sliced mushrooms

1 C. chicken broth

1 C. white wine

2 C. heavy cream

2 tbl. chopped fresh basil

16 oz fettuccine




In a large skillet over medium heat add oil to warm. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and slice into approximately 1” strips and place into warmed oil to sauté.  Cook 8-9 minutes turning occasionally to evenly brown all sides. Remove from pan and cover.


 Reduce the heat to low and add the minced garlic to sauté for about 30 seconds. Then add the diced sun-dried tomatoes and sliced mushrooms to sauté for about 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms start to release their juices but haven’t browned. Add the chicken broth and white wine and increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Increase the heat, add the cream and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Simmer over medium heat to desired thickness.


Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook as per directions for an al dente finish. Drain when finished and return to pot.


Place the chicken strips over the fettuccine noodles and pour the sauce and contents of the skillet over top of the chicken strips and pasta. Sprinkle fresh basil over top and toss gently.