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What’s the skinny on water?

Water Droplet
photo credit: wwarby

Since I was a young adult and started with my first “diet” one thing that was constantly drilled into my head aside from the obvious that eating cake and cookies are a big no no on a “diet” was drink water… And somewhere along the way drinking 8 glasses of water a day became a hard rule with dieting. However, it is not only when we are looking to trim down that we should be thinking about drinking water.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website when asked; “How much should you drink every day?”

It’s a simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.

Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.

So the long and short of it is that your body is a pretty good at letting you know when we need a drink. Are you thirsty? It is probably obvious on summer day when you are sweating in the 90 degree heat you are going to get thirsty.

Ellie Krieger RD shared this in Fine Cooking, “As the weather heats up, it is no coincidence that the fruits and vegetables that are fresh for picking are plump with water-juicy, ripe peaches, plums, and melons, crisp lettuces, succulent tomatoes and cool cucumbers. And the dishes we lean toward, like salads, smoothies, yogurt with fruit, gazpacho and seafood, also contribute to hydration. Surprising, about 20 percent of our total water intake comes from the food we eat.

You’ll get the remaining 80 percent from beverages. Water is best but other drinks count, too.”

So back to our water and drinks…. I am proud to say that I gave up the diet soda a year ago when I began my wellness makeover and have tried to drink as much water as possible. In doing this I have experimented with many “flavors” from a pouch which were commercially produced as well as making concoctions in my kitchen. Turns out that my concoctions are some of my favorite and most refreshing drinks.

Here is a twist on the old cucumber-water.


mint and cucumberCucumber-Mint Water

¼ c fresh Mint leaves
4 Tablespoons of sugar
1 c boiling water
½ long English cucumber (about 2 cups)
2 Tablespoons of lime juice


cup of mint
mint cut right from our own “farmville!”

come on sweetness

In a pot combine the mint leaves and sugar

mixing splenda and mint
Take a spoon and mash the mint

pouring water from measuring cup
Add the boiling water and let steep for 15 minutes

cucumbers steep in water
While that is steeping and smelling wonderful, in a blender toss in the cucumber and puree with 2 cups of cold water

blending the mind and water mixtue
look at that gorgeous color

straining the mixture
Strain the cucumber liquid into a bowl.

adding mint mixture
After the mint has steeped for 15 minutes strain that through the bowl with the cucumber liquid.

Get rid of the wonderfully smelling remains, or I suppose you could use these for your eyes as I’ve seen many places..

adding lime juice
Pour the mixture into a pitcher and add the lime juice

refreshing cucumber mint waterAdd 3 cups of cold water and stir
Enjoy over ice

I love this so much and my picky picky family does too, give it a try and let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite water concoction you’d like to share?

Didn’t you know Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls cures all?


my daughter cookingAll of our lives we have heard how “chicken soup” is good for the soul. Well, that is another post about what my grand mom was “about”. Oh how I miss my grand mom but that is not what this post is about…

However it is a sweet post, at least the thought behind it is sweet…

Sarah’s boyfriend had a bad cold and she wanted to do something “nice” for him so she suggested to me that she would like to make him “matzo ball soup.”

Yup, my undomesticated daughter who has done little more then make herself tea now wanted to make something for someone other than herself… Note to self, this is a big milestone in my “child’s” (yes, Sarah no matter how old you are you will always be my child; I write as I know this will be critiqued) life.

Of course, mom (that being me) had to run to the store to get all of the ingredients for the newly domesticated cook. After all I know there is nothing as good as a delicious bowl of Matzo ball soup when your head is stuff and nose is runny.

For those of you who have never had Matzo balls they are little round fluffy balls which just melt in your mouth, ifff you make them right, if not they can be like lead balloons; not good!

So here goes… Sarah’s Matzo Ball Soup


carrots, onions, celeryTake 2 large carrots chopped into small bite size pieces

And 2 large celery stalks also cut into bite sized pieces

Along with 1 diced large yellow onion


chicken and cut up vegiesTake 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs and add them to a large stock pot, *the dark meat has a little more flavor then the white meat.


chicken stock and veggiesFor a little extra flavor add 4 cups of Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock to 4 cups of water and add to the stock pot.


Then add the dry spices: 1tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried rosemary, and 1 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp cracked black pepper and one bay leaf.


chicken soup for the soulMix all together, and as it starts to simmer, smell the yummieness!

For this newly domestic cook this one pot meal is ideal for “clean-up” oh yes cleaning the pot must follow lol

While the soup is simmering into blissdom which translates into the last half hour of simmering…

Take 3 eggs and separate them

In a small bowl beat the egg whites until stiff

Then ever so gently fold in the yokes

Fold in ¼ cup of Matzo Meal to the egg mixture and a pinch of salt

OK, this is the important part, let stand 5 minutes… any longer and your balls will be “lead” which is the furthest thing that you want.

With wet hands form small 12 balls and gently drop them into your stock pot
Cook together for approximately 35 minutes or so

And then you will have the most magical potion to cure all that ails you…
Sarah quickly packed the soup up into 2 containers and poof she was gone to dish out her little bit of “happiness and good health.”

And there she goes… my “little” girl all grown up…

*I know I’m missing the photos for the matzo balls, so I will have to do a later post, but it is pretty easy… give them a try and let me know how much you just love them!

Turkey Roulade with Maple Squash

With Thanksgiving around the corner this recipe is a great alternative if you don’t want to make the whole “bird”.

turkey and squash

The stuffing rolled up in this great dish not only makes it beautiful when served but it gives it just the right amount of flavor all mixed together. I paired this together with Canyon Ranch’s Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup.

Recipe: Ellie’s Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy
Serves 6
2 slices of Turkey Roulade with 1/4 cup Gravy
Calories: 400
Total Fat: 12G
Mono 6G
Poly 3.5G
Sat 1.5G
Protein: 50G
Carb: 24G
Fiber: 2G
Chol 117MG
Sodium: 371 MG


1 (2 1/2-pound) skinless turkey breast, butterflied
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups), plus 1 cup sliced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
5 slices day-old whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup lightly toasted chopped pecans
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh crumbled sage or 3 teaspoons dried, divided
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

Special equipment: kitchen twine

Preparation Instructions:

1. Place the turkey breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 3/4-inch. Set aside while stuffing is prepared.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Place the cranberries in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat, drain and reserve. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring, until onions are golden but not charred, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add bread, cranberries, pecans, 2 tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried sage and 1/2 to 3/4-cup chicken stock, depending upon consistency of stuffing; (you want the mixture to be moistened, but not too wet, since the turkey will release moisture when cooked). Cook over low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, remove from heat.

4. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the turkey breast. Spread the stuffing on the turkey, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2-inches uncovered on all sides. Roll up and secure tightly with kitchen twine, trying to keep all stuffing intact.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large Dutch oven or medium-sized roasting pan until hot. Sear stuffed turkey breast on all sides until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add sliced onion and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, cover tightly and roast in the oven until turkey reaches 160 degrees F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into inner layer of meat, about 60 to 65 minutes. Remove the turkey breast from oven and transfer to a cutting board to rest.

Make the gravy: Add apple cider, 1/2 cup chicken stock, vinegar and remaining sage to the onions, chicken stock and juices in the roasting pan, bring to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by 1/3. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes more. The gravy should not be thick, just slightly thicker than a jus. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Makes 1 1/2 cups gravy.

Remove twine from turkey breast and slice into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Serve with gravy.

*recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger “The Food You Crave”

Recipe: Canyon Ranch’s Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup

Serving Information
Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings, each containing approximately:
90 calories
19 gm. carbohydrate
2 gm. fat
5 mg. cholesterol
2 gm. protein
125 mg. sodium
5 gm. fiber


3 pounds butternut squash
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Preparation Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds and place in baking pan flesh side down with enough water to barely cover the pan’s bottom.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes until squash is very tender.

3. Scoop out cooked squash and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whip at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

*recipe courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Have you ever tried anything different for Thanksgiving?

introductions introductions…

I am so excited because this week I am officially “kicking off” my Special Sisters Series where I will feature a “sister” who is either on a journey with a special needs child like myself or on a healthy lifestyle journey like the one I jump started this year. So let me introduce you to some wonderful friends!

Hi everyone! My name is Lindsay; an everyday working mom with a passion for healthy living, cooking and writing all about it. Eating well is a major factor in healthy living, but there was a time (not too long ago) when my cooking left a lot to be desired. Every night was chicken and veggies, maybe an occasional pork loin in there. It was just getting a bit monotonous and for lack of a better word, BLAH. I finally met a breaking point where I knew there just had to be more out there in the world of healthy cooking. How could I get healthy food to be exciting? So, I turned to the woman that makes my husband’s heart race and cause him to stare longingly at the TV wishing she were in his kitchen; Miss Paula Deen.

Now, if you know anything about Paula Deen, you understand that she is known for starting her recipes out with, “OK, ya’ll. Now you are gonna need two sticks of softened butter…” You know how the rest goes. Cheese, bacon, heavy creams; all the things that make a delicious, yet not so nutritious dish. The challenge was to encompass all of the flavors and feelings you get from her dishes, but cook it in a healthy way. I was going to tackle her recipes, one buttery dish at a time, and make them into something we could feel good about eating. And that is where “Cookin’ Lean Like Paula Deen” was born.

What I have found, and what I love sharing with my readers, is that if you can crave something, then there is always a way to create it in a healthy way. From Macaroni and Cheese to Chocolate Cake, with a little creativity and simple ingredient substitutions, you can change any recipe, even Paula Deen’s, into a healthy, nutritious, guilt-free meal for you, your family and your friends.

Here are a couple examples of recipe make-overs that have gone from heavy to healthy, without losing that wonderful flavor we love.

Makes 2 cups of gravy


4 strips reduced-fat bacon (center cut)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup Fat Free chicken broth

1 cup 1% milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cook bacon in a large skillet. Remove bacon and reserve drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside.

Add flour to drippings and whisk for about 2 minutes, or until browned. Gradually add milk and broth. Wisk constantly over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Once thick and bubbly, stir in salt and pepper. Serve over biscuits and top with crumbled bacon.

***For biscuits, I recommend using Reduced-Fat Bisquick. Recipe is on the box.

4-5 Servings


3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”

1 shallot, finely minced

1 1/2 cups LIGHT cream

1/2 cup FAT FREE sour cream

4 pieces TURKEY bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives, 1 tablespoon reserved, for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the potatoes into large pot and cover with cold water. Salt generously. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for roughly 13 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the potatoes are boiling, melt 1 tablespoon of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” into a sauce pot. Add the minced shallot and sauté until soft. Add the LIGHT cream, being sure not to bring to a boil.

Drain potatoes in a colander. Return to pot and mash with a potato masher. As soon as they are mashed slowly add in the hot cream and butter. Stir slowly and do not overwork or the potatoes will be heavy. Add the FAT FREE sour cream and the TURKEY bacon and fold in the chives. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

These are just a couple of my many, many favorite recipes I have created over the past two years. Everything on my blog is cooked and tested in The Cookin’ Lean Kitchen before sharing it with you. In addition to Paula Deen recipes, you will also find recipes inspired by other Food Network favorites such as Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Ina Garten. Please stop by and see what else is cookin’! And remember, if you can crave it, then there is a way to create it in a way that is healthy, “lean” and most importantly, delicious.

Hope to see you!

Baked Penne with four cheeses


4 cheese pastaWho doesn’t love comfort food sometimes? I have yearned and missed homemade macaroni and cheese, which I will attempt to “lighten” up soon but in the mean time we loved Ellie’s four-cheese baked penne.

1 1/2 cup small curd low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup spark-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1 pound whole-wheat penne
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 15 ounce can no salt added tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 c of the mozzarella, and parsley and stir.

Cook the pasta in a large post of boiling water until it is tender and drain.

Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook, for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir,

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add the past to the pot and turn off the heat.

Stir in the cheese mixture.

Spray a 9 x 13″ glass baking dish with cooking spray

Transfer the pasta mixture to the dish and spread out.

Add the remaining 3/4 mozarella and parmesan to the top.

Bake until heated all of the way through and the cheese is melted about 45 minutes.

*Notes from my kitchen

I used to be a “Prego” fiend, i couldn’t have pasta without my sweet Prego, but move over Prego this recipe is so fresh and delicious and it can be made larger for for a crowd.

Does your family love Italiano? Give it a try and let me know how they love it!