Love fresh peaches in season? How about melted, warm brie cheese? How about marrying them together in a quesadilla and dipping them in a lime and honey dipping sauce? Yes – YUM!

Peach and Brie Quesadillas with Lime-Honey Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

Sauce:

• 2 tablespoons honey
• 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
• 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind

Quesadillas:

• 1 cup thinly sliced peeled firm ripe peaches (about 2 large)
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 3 ounces Brie cheese, thinly sliced
• 4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
• Cooking spray
• Chive strips (optional)

Preparation

1. To prepare sauce, combine first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

2. To prepare quesadillas, combine peaches, 1 tablespoon chives, and sugar, tossing gently to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange one-fourth of cheese and one-fourth of peach mixture over half of each tortilla; fold tortillas in half. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until tortillas are lightly browned and crisp. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges; serve with sauce. Garnish with chive strips, if desired.

Note: Placing the fillings on one side of the tortilla and folding the other half over (like a taco) makes the quesadillas easier to handle. Whole wheat tortillas would also be great, offering a sweet, nutty taste. The lime-honey dipping sauce balances the richness of the buttery filling.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Pearson Farm, a fifth-generation family-owned business dedicated to growing Georgia Peaches and Georgia Pecans.*

Spring is in the air! What better way to usher in the season than with a window box garden! “Mom’s” most recent article on SheKnows.com highlights some simple, DIY ideas for creating a window box garden affordably this Spring! View the entire article here.

*Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

5 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick on a Family Vacation

By Dr. Yael Halaas, MD

1. Sanitize everything! One of the first ways to ruin a vacation together is catching a cold on the plane. Carry antibacterial wipes and wipe down every surface you may touch on the plane. Wipe the belt buckle, food tray and latch, volume control, and armrests. The airline crew cannot clean all these surfaces between flights which can harbor contagious viruses and bacteria.

2. Wash your hands – especially before touching your own or a loved one’s eyes, nose or mouth. When travelling, it is impossible to avoid contact with surfaces that many others may have touched. To avoid those bugs contaminating your family, wash your hands.

3. Be proactive – On family vacations with everyone close together, take Cold-EEZE at the first sign of a cold to shorten the duration, minimizing the amount of time you are sick to better enjoy your vacation. Cold-EEZE zinc lozenges have been found to decrease the duration of colds by nearly half in studies byDartmouth Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic. Also, by shortening your cold, it minimizes the chances of spreading the cold onto your family members.

4. Be prepared – Carry medications with you to minimize the impact of a cold or illness so you can all still enjoy your trip. Useful medications include analgesia like Tylenol or allergy medications for adults and children. Adults may also want to have some decongestants handy just in case.

5. Be healthy – Good hydration, good nutrition and exercise go a long way to giving the body the support it needs to stay strong.

*Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

This dessert is great to take out the door, to sell at a bake sale (if you store the cups in a tub of ice), or even to just open the refrigerator to. There’s just something so much more appealing about food that’s ready to go.

Feel free to make this in any resealable plastic container you have sitting around your kitchen. But if you want it to look like it was made by the pros, next time you go to a ware¬house or club store, buy 12-ounce clear plastic take-out cups with lids. If you’re making a lot, line them up and fill them assembly-line fashion.

If you have a few extra minutes and want the shortcakes to be even more decadent, try following this recipe using the Sexy Strawberry Tapenade (see page 207) instead of plain strawberries—a 1/4-cup serving of the tapenade has only 50 calories and 2 grams of fat. Just layer a serving (or two) of the tapenade between the angel food cake and whipped topping in a 12-ounce cup, and you’re in for an extra-special treat.

Strawberry Shortcake To Go

Ingredients

1 1/4 ounces angel food cake, torn into bite- sized pieces
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free frozen whipped topping, defrosted

Preparation

Add half of the angel food cake to a 12-ounce plastic to-go beverage cup with a lid or to a medium resealable plastic container. Top with half the strawberries, followed by half the whipped topping. Repeat with the remain¬ing cake, strawberries, and whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 serving.

190 calories, 3 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates, <1 g fat, trace saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 282 mg sodium

*Recipe taken from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening by Devin Alexander. Copyright c 2010 by Devin Alexander. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.*

A Beginners’ Quick Guide to Going Green

Going green might mean bringing on a wave of change into your life, and it can be a little daunting to start. Beware, in most occasions you will have to spend more or put in more effort that what you might have been used to, but this is a small price to pay for a clear conscience, right? Though going green is a huge step towards a better, healthier lifestyle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do something grand that will immediately create an impact — in fact, it’s the little things that actually do a whole lot of good. It’s these environment-conscious practices that make green living possible, and even enjoyable. Start small, and then you can slowly work your way up to bigger things. So how exactly does one start?

Here are three things to regularly ask yourself to help rouse your green sensibilities:

Is this recyclable or reusable? Pretty much anything we use can be recycled, so it’s a good first step to consider what happens to an item after we’ve used it. With this, you can start with installing separate bins for recyclables and perishables at your home, and you can begin to practice reusing or re-purposing things in your household and at the workplace.
Is this a necessity? Going green involves exercising a measure of prudence and frugality. Avoid wastefulness by using only what you need, when you need it. This also applies to resources such as energy and water — conservation is key.
Do I have green options for this? Always be on the lookout for environment-friendly alternatives for items on your shopping list. Recycled, recyclable, biodegradable — these are only some of what could be available to you. From packaging to the actual product, there are often a number of options to let you enjoy a greener lifestyle.

Shifting gears towards a green lifestyle will definitely take some work, but these questions are small yet sure steps to the right direction. These seemingly simple ideas would eventually integrate into your consciousness and allow you to slide into an environment-friendly mindset. Being conscious of how your actions and choices would affect nature could take some time getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes almost instinctive and automatic, making it easier to keep up with a healthy and well-rounded green lifestyle.

About the Author

George is a writer who occasionally does work for PlasticPlace, a wholesaler of environmentally-friendly garbage bags. He has been living clean and green for almost a decade now and has saved a considerable amount from recycling and repurposing alone.

If you prefer, you can always substitute a brown rice, whole-wheat, or whole-grain pasta for the fiber-enriched variety. Devin gets a lot of letters and e-mails from home cooks around the country saying they are able to make her recipes for the whole family even though their spouses and children won’t generally eat healthy food, because her recipes actually taste fattening. To keep with that tradition, she opts for the fiber-enriched pasta since it adds needed fiber to our diets while still tasting more like traditional pasta.

Penne and Asparagus with Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

1 (141/2-ounce) box of fi ber-enriched penne pasta (Try Ronzoni Smart Taste Penne Rigate)
1 pound trimmed asparagus, cut into 2-inch diagonal pieces.
2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (Devin used Precious, which is the same as Sorrento in various parts of the country)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese (Look for it in a plastic canister or jar, not in the refrigerated section)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste, optional

Preparation

Cook the pasta according to package direc¬tions, omitting any oil or butter. Two to four minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus to the water (2 minutes for thin spears, 4 minutes for thick). Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a small bowl. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, add the garlic, ricotta, and olive oil to a large serving bowl. As soon as the pasta is drained, mix in 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Immediately add the pasta and asparagus and gently toss until the pasta and asparagus are coated with the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss again. If the mixture seems too dry, add more reserved pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time, until no longer dry. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the pasta and sprinkle with the red pepper fl akes, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Each (about 2-cup) serving has: 318 calories, 15 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 18 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber, 183 mg sodium

*Recipe taken from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening by Devin Alexander. Copyright c 2010 by Devin Alexander. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo Credit: Theresa Raffetto.*

The stars have aligned to bring us a new, all-natural bath and body care line designed just for your own celestial infant or toddler! Combining the astronomic health benefits of natural and organic skincare with astrological aromatherapy, Zodiac Baby has debuted a two-in-one shampoo and wash as well as a moisturizing lotion – in all 12 signs of the zodiac!

Made in the USA, all Zodiac Baby products are bottled in recyclable, harm-free containers, and are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and polyethylene glycol (PEG). Each zodiac symbol features the aromatic preferences of that particular zodiac sign, creating a truly distinct line for babies and toddlers!

For your little one’s bath, Zodiac Baby’s two-in-one shampoo and wash features natural coconut derived cleansers, soothing organic aloe and ultra hydrating vitamin B for healthy, happy skin.

After the bath, apply Zodiac Baby’s intensely moisturizing lotion, which boasts organic shea butter, jojoba oil, hydrating vitamin B5 and E, and soothing organic aloe to keep your child’s skin soft and smelling heavenly!

Mom” received the Aries Shampoo and Wash as well as the Aries Lotion to try, and both products smelled delightfully of grapefruit and ginger – which are excellent for this adventurous and energetic sign!

Zodiac Baby products are available at retail locations nationwide as well as online at ZodiacBaby.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Are You Really Too Busy to Cook?

By Devin Alexander

One of the biggest and most frequent complaints I hear from people trying to eat healthy is that they’re simply too busy to cook. While I understand this concern, I just don’t believe there’s really such a thing as being “too busy to cook”. Think of all the time you spend sitting in the drive through line, parked on the couch waiting for the delivery guy, or even worse, the time you spend at the gym trying to work off fattening convenience foods, or at the doctor’s office because of weight related health problems like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. All of these activities take more time (and money!) than cooking simple meals at home. The way I see it, you don’t have time NOT to cook!

All of that said, I completely understand that no one has tons of time to spend in the kitchen on a regular basis. So I’ve written a couple of books that rely on fast favorites: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening! and The Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook. Both are page after of page of ridiculously quick and convenient recipes (with over 70% of the recipes easily made with all-natural ingredients to boot!). And we’re not talking snacks here. We’re talking a full lean pot roast dinner in only 10 minutes of hands-on time to bacon wrapped tilapia filets in less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Now you may be thinking, “that’s impossible”. Trust me, it’s not. And you don’t have to be a master-chef or have tons of elaborate equipment. You can see for yourself below–I’ve picked 3 of my favorite recipes to get you started. My “Chicken Breast with Goat Cheese and Fire Roasted Tomatoes” from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!, morphs ordinary chicken breast into a dish good enough to serve to guests, though it’s easy enough to become one of your new regular weeknight meals. You’ll learn my trick to locking the juices into the chicken in a pan then finishing it off in the oven that can be used with other of your favorite ingredients too.
And if you love cheesy pasta but thought it would be off-limits forever, now you can indulge in my “Penne and Asparagus with Ricotta Cheese” from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!, without regret! Since each serving includes plenty of fresh, crisp-tender asparagus to accompany the pasta, tossed together with low-fat ricotta (and trust me, you won’t miss the full fat stuff), you don’t have to feel guilty about eating a big bowl of pasta for dinner. And if you have a sweet tooth like I do, you can avoid the ice cream parlor and those deadly store-bought sweets by making your own decadent desserts at home. “Strawberry Shortcake To-Go” from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!, is a crowd pleaser, and super convenient because it can be made ahead in to-go cups and kept in your fridge for when your sweet tooth strikes.

Though drive-thru windows and pre-packaged meals are tempting, remember that you’re not only paying a huge mark-up for these items, you’re adding tons of unnecessary fat and calories to your diet. I always say I’d rather spend 20 minutes in my kitchen than 2 hours on a treadmill, so I opt to cook at home whenever possible. If you give my recipes a try, I think you’ll agree it really can be simple and affordable to cook at home, whether you’re cooking for yourself or the entire family.

About the Author

Devin Alexander is a New York Times bestselling author and healthy cooking expert who has maintained a 70-pound weight loss for more than 16 years, and is also the resident food expert on the syndicated news magazine show “America Now.” She has shared her secrets for unbelievably decadent yet healthy foods through frequent appearances on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Dr. Oz,” “Dr. Phil,” “The Doctors,” “Dr. Drew,” “The View,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” Discovery Health’s “National Body Challenge,” FOX, CNN, HGTV, USA, Style Network and others, and through more than 400 magazine features including Prevention, Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Shape. She has served as Culinary Advisor to Men’s Fitness Magazine and Cooking Expert to Women’s Health.

*Image: taoty / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

This dish is exceptionally easy to make and worth every second. That said, there is one thing to note: Be careful when checking the chicken for doneness. The tomatoes will likely drip into the chicken. If you cut into the chicken or poke it with a fork to test for doneness, be sure it’s not the liquid from the tomatoes making the chicken look pink even if it’s not.

Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese and Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients

4 (4-ounce) trimmed boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray
1/2 cup canned, drained, diced fi re-roasted tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) goat cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons finely slivered fresh basil leaves, or more to taste (optional)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place a medium ovenproof nonstick skillet over high heat. When it’s hot, lightly mist the skillet with spray and immediately add the chicken side by side to the pan so it does not touch. Cook the chicken just until it is golden brown on the outsides, 1 to 2 minutes per) side.

Remove the pan from the heat and top each piece of chicken evenly with about 2 table¬spoons of the tomatoes, followed by about 1/2 ounce of the cheese. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chicken until it is no longer pink inside and the cheese is melted, 5 to 9 minutes. Top evenly with the basil, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Each (1 topped breast) serving has: 171 calories, 29 g protein, 2 g carbohy¬drates, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 72 mg cholesterol, trace fiber, 198 mg sodium

*Recipes taken from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening by Devin Alexander. Copyright c 2010 by Devin Alexander. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo Credit: Theresa Raffetto.*

Wash Your Grocery Totes To Minimize Health Risks

Nearly everyone has a reusable grocery tote, but only 15 percent of Americans regularly clean their eco-friendly bags—and that could create a breeding zone for harmful bacteria. According to the Home Food Safety program, a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and ConAgra Foods, it’s a smart idea to clean totes on a regular basis.

“Using unwashed grocery totes can cause cross-contamination when juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects come in contact with cooked or ready-to-eat foods like breads or produce,” says registered dietitian and Academy spokesperson Ruth Frechman.

“Food poisoning affects 48 million Americans a year, but it can be prevented with practical steps, such as cleaning grocery totes and separating raw meats from ready-to-eat foods when shopping, cooking, serving and storing foods,” she added.

Frechman says to make sure all bacteria are eliminated by frequently washing your grocery tote, either in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water; cleaning all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter; storing totes in a clean, dry location; and avoiding leaving totes in the trunk of a vehicle.
“In the store, wrap meat, poultry and fish in plastic bags before placing in the tote and use two different totes for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods,” says Frechman.

She also stresses it is a smart idea to use two cutting boards at home: one strictly to cut raw meat, poultry and seafood; the other for ready-to-eat foods, like breads and vegetables.

“Keep cutting boards separate, and wash them thoroughly in hot, soapy water after each use or place in the dishwasher,” she says. “Discard any old cutting boards that have cracks, crevices and excessive knife scars.”
Cross-contamination also happens in your refrigerator when you place raw meats on the top shelf and juices drip onto produce, says Frechman. “An easy solution is placing raw meats, poultry and seafood on the bottom shelf and keeping washed produce in clean storage containers instead of original packaging.”

Visit www.homefoodsafety.org for additional safety tips on how to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning, and contact a registered dietitian for more help by visiting www.eatright.org.

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Image courtesy of Repax Bags.*