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Meatless Mondays

Homemade 4-Bean Soup – in honor of National Homemade Soup Day!

I love Mondays! Really I do—especially because I work for myself. My boss is the best!

One of the reasons for my love of Mondays is Meatless Mondays! After enjoying a beautifully cooked steak and piece of salmon Sunday during my friend Walker’s Super Bowl party, it was time to lay low on the animal protein. (Love that about being a flexitarian—I don’t deny myself red meat, it’s my occasional treat.)

Walker super bowl party

I volunteered to bring soup to Walker’s party—perfect time of year for that. AND this week there is a special day for homemade soup. Join me in celebrating National Homemade Soup Day today won’t you? Continue reading

Reap the benefits of a plant-based diet without being a strict vegan!

Sharon palmer pic

Sharon Palmer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist known as The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ and I discussed the wide spectrum of vegetarian diets. You don’t have to be a strict vegan or vegetarian to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet. In this blog transcript of our 2nd of 4 YouTube videos, we talked about the different types of vegetarian diets and how flexible you can be with what fits your needs best. Continue reading

Beans for low sodium cooking


Beans for low sodium cooking with Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Cindy Kleckner

Cindy Kleckner, registered dietitian and co-author with Rosanne Rust of the Hypertension Cookbook For Dummies and I were talking about some of the benefits of these little powerhouses of nutrition.

This is an adaptation of our discussion at the Cooper Nutrition & Health Expo in March during National Nutrition Month. (To see the video go to “In honor of Meatless Mondays, the benefits of beans.”) Continue reading

Neily’s Whole Wheat Pasta Salad

16oz whole wheat rigatoni, dry
Leftover from rotisserie chicken (3/4c white, 1/4c dk meat)*
2oz sugar snap peas
3/4 red onion
40 cherry or grape tomatoes
1c chopped carrots
1/3 c Newman’s Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
2T balsamic vinegar

Cook pasta. Mix all ingredients. Chill before serving.

*Can leave out for vegan dish or substitute shrimp.

Servings: 8

Nutrition information per serving:

In honor of Meatless Mondays – the benefits of beans!

Video: Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Cindy Kleckner talks about the benefits of beans!

I’ve long been a fan of beans. Not much of a meat eater so it’s a great way for me to get my protein. I had the pleasure of chatting with Cooper Clinic registered dietitian Cindy Kleckner at the annual Cooper Nutrition Expo during National Nutrition Month about the benefits of beans. Cindy is co-author along with Rosanne Rust, MS, RD, LDN Hypertension Cookbook For Dummies. It’s loaded with information and features 150 of Cindy’s sodium-friendly recipes. Here is one of my favorites using beans. I love hot artichoke dips but usually they’re loaded with lots of cheese making for a rather unhealthy, high calorie appetizer. Not Cindy’s version!

Hot Artichoke Bean Dip

(page 181, Hypertension Cookbook For Dummies)

  • 1.5 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • two 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, well rinsed and drained or four 4-oz jars of marinated artichoke hearts
  • one 15.5oz can Great Northern beans, well rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • nonstick cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, 1 can (or 2 jars) of artichoke hearts and beans in food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the remaining artichokes, Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and garlic. Pulse until artichokes are coarsely chopped.
  3. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Spoon the mixture into the dish and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Yields 24 servings

Per serving: 50 calories; 3g fat (1g sat fat); 5mg cholesterol; 80mg sodium; 5g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 2g protein

Serve with your favorite unsalted whole grain crackers, pita chips or bread cubes.

Oh no…what am I going to bring to my neighborhood party?!

Some key ingredients to always have on hand make it easy for me to throw something together when needed in a pinch. Like this weekend when I remembered at the last minute I was to bring something to the neighborhood block party.

Many things I’ve learned living in Texas is the natives really have interesting ways of doing things. But I must admit, some I really like! For example this dish COULD be called Southwestern Bean Salad or Mixed Bean Salad with Cilantro & Balsamic Vinaigrette. However since I make it different every time, it’s just easier to call it by its Texas name – Texas “Caviar”. I had another version on New Year’s Day with black-eyed peas and just a few weeks ago entertained my brother and friends with a different version. The consistent factor seems to be tomatoes, beans, whole grain, onion and dressing – everything else is up for grabs! I think to make this one perfect though would have been to add sweet corn and jalapenos for a bit of spice!

Here was the version for the neighborhood party: (see the video below for a “live” version of the recipe)

Neily’s Texas Caviar (in honor of Lakewood Heights Neighborhood Association!)

  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large tomato
  • red onion (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup)
  • cilantro (about 3-4 tbsp)
  • brown rice 4oz dry (you could use quinoa or whole corn as well)
  • mini sweet peppers – about 14 (or a few red, yellow or orange sweet peppers)
  • balsamic vinegar (3 tablespoons)
  • extra virgin olive oil (3 tablespoons)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • sweetener (I used stevia)

Mix all together. Chill for several hours before serving.

Nutrition info per 2/3 cup (about 4.5oz): 150cal, 4.5g fat, 0g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 20g carb, 6g fiber, 6g protein

Happy New Year! Are you eating your black eyed peas?

It’s a southern tradition to have black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity. Whether or not it works, I’m all for it because black-eyed peas are extremely nutritious!  They’re an excellent source of fiber, protein, and many vitamins and minerals.

Often prepared with ham hocks and served with corn bread, I used the black-eyed peas to make Texas “Caviar”. There are many ways to make the dish but the main ingredients are whole beans, tomatoes and a dressing.  My version happened to be what ingredients I had on hand—I’m all about improvisation!  This is what I came up with.

Neily’s Texas “Caviar”

  • 1 can black-eyed peas (rinsed for 2 minutes to reduce sodium)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa – a wonderful quick-cooking whole grain
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers (I had red, yellow, and orange, but green is fine as well)
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ~3-4 Tbsp Newman’s Own Light Balsamic Dressing

Mix together and refrigerate several hours before serving.  Can be served alone as a side dish or as an appetizer with whole grain corn tortilla chips.  Celery is another great crunchy option.

Other ingredients I might have added include:  cilantro, jalapeño pepper, black beans, corn, avocado.  The possibilities are endless.  Use your imagination!

Nutrition info per serving as a side dish.  Makes about 8 servings (~5oz or ¾ cup): 90cal, 1g fat, 0g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 17g carb, 3g fiber, 4g protein

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