Homemade Chicken Soup: Oh So Good and Good For You!

chicken soup

Homemade chicken soup made in my favorite Cuisinart electric pressure cooker

It seems as though sinus infections, the stomach flu, bronchitis, and muscle aches are making the rounds in my large family and we don’t even live in the same house! I finally found both the energy and time to take out my favorite cooking equipment, my pressure cooker, to make some virus fighting fuel.  We have all heard that even canned chicken noodle soup can help fight a cold, but I was eager and ready to taste the rich flavorful type of chicken noodle soup I could make with my electric pressure cooker. At this point, I decided I would enhance the rich flavor by making the chicken stock base in my pressure cooker rather than using low sodium chicken broth.

Pressure Cooker Homemade Chicken Stock Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chicken wings
  • small onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 parsley sprigs
  • 2 quarts water

Cook all ingredients on high pressure for 40 minutes. Use a natural release to continue extracting the flavors.  Strain the stock. Cool the stock in order to skim the fat off.  If time is short and you need to use the chicken stock before it is completely cool, use a chilled lettuce leaf to help skim the fat off the stock.  The chilled leaf will actually attract the fat in the broth to allow for removal.

On to the Chicken Soup….

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups of your homemade chicken stock recipe or 6 cups low sodium packaged chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup egg noodles (may substitute rice or orzo)

Saute the celery, onion, and carrots in the tablespoon of oil for a few minutes.   Add the chicken breasts, thyme, salt, pepper, and stock or broth.  Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes; when done release the pressure quickly.  Add in the chopped parsley and then cook the egg noodles or other pasta or rice in the hot soup.

In addition to being a “comfort” food, chicken soup will fight inflammation, thin your mucous, and hydrate you which will all hopefully fight whatever ails you!

Do you have a favorite chicken soup recipe?  Interested in more soup recipes?




Several Sumptuous Summer Salads: Kale with Quinoa and Penne Pasta with Feta Cheese

Penne with Chickpeas, tomato, and feta

Penne with Chickpeas, tomato, and feta

If you are tired of BBQ cuisine at this point and want to swap your grilled burgers for some interesting summer salads, here are several I can personally recommend.  I have not personally made the kale salad, but have certainly enjoyed eating it!  My friend served this kale salad at a recent gathering, and I asked for the recipe because it was not only delicious, but also loaded with anti-oxidants.  This salad is a wonderfully tasty way to consume kale and well worth the 45 minutes of prep time. Serve the kale salad with a slice of whole grain bread and a beverage and call it dinner.

Kale Quinoa Salad- Adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena.  Recipe analysis is for 4 servings with 420 calories per serving.

Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.

1/2 cup quinoa
4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch
Champagne vinaigrette
3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
10 to 12 strips finely julienned preserved lemon


1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.
2. In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.
4. Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.


Penne With Chickpeas, feta, and tomatoes. This recipe is from Cooking Light and modified by the chefs in the Rose household!  Each 1.5 cup serving has 350 calories.

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (try the tri-color version)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup shallots
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 15 ounce can chickpeas
3 cups cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
pinch of freshly ground pepper


Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain the liquid, reserving 1/4 cup for later.  Heat a large skillet, add oil and then shallots and garlic; saute for one minute or less and constantly stir to avoid burning. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas, saute 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute an additional 2 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and the 1/4 cup reserved liquid.  Cook for 1 minute until heated through.  Add the fat-free feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine and serve on your favorite serving platter.

Fall Favorite Foods : Pumpkin Pie and Minestrone Soup

Today some major plans fell through, and I very unexpectedly have the whole day free to tackle my kitchen and food preparation. With the fall chill in the air and mums on the front step, I am in the mood to make some of my favorite “fall” foods.

For your sweet tooth, consider pumpkin pie.  In my family, we eat pumpkin pie all year-not just during the holidays.  This is a slimmed down version, with literally half the calories of traditional pie.  The trick is to get rid of the crust calories, but still have the pie hold its shape.  Using Bisquick mix (and you can use the reduced fat version), you will decrease the calories by 50%.  This is a healthy dessert, full of anti-oxidants.  You might even want to consider eating this for breakfast!

Slimmed Down Pumpkin Pie Recipe (1/8 pie has about 100 calories)

  • 15 oz. Can pumpkin pie
  • 1 can evaporated skim milk
  • ¾ cup Splenda or 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup Bisquick mix

Mix all the ingredients in bowl.  Use baking spray and coat a glass pie pan. Add the mixture and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, then turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue baking approximately 45 additional minutes.

Soups are another fall favorite recipe.   Soups are wonderful in that most can be frozen very well and then pulled out of the freezer for a very quick dinner when time is tight.  A favorite soup in our family is quick minestrone.  It takes virtually no time to assemble my version of this recipe.  This is a true family favorite, and all of my adult children and daughter-in-law really enjoy this recipe.  I hope you do as well.

 Very Quick Minestrone Soup (1.5 cup serving has about 200 calories)

  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • one large can (28 ounces) of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can light kidney beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup medium pasta shells, uncooked
  • 1 cup frozen peas or Italian-style beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese to top soup (optional)


Toss all ingredients into a stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve with whole grain bread and a light salad.  This is a meal rich in anti-oxidants and fiber.

Bon Appetit!

4th of July Cookouts: Build a Healthier BBQ Meal!


Marie’s Mango Lime Salsa

We are now in full summer swing with July 4th quickly approaching.  Of course, this time of year is noted for sizzling burgers and hotdogs on the grill.  For those who are looking for healthier alternatives for quick summer meals or ways to opt out of the standard grilled burger and hotdog routine, try some of the following alternatives to standard cookout menu items.

Try grilling some salmon or chicken and top with this mango lime salsa.  My client provided the recipe and photo, and noted how delicious it was.  She kindly calculated the calorie content as well!  Thank you Marie!

Mango Lime Salsa-makes 2 cups; prep time about 30 minutes

1 small red onion diced small

1/2 red pepper 1/4 inch dice

1 jalapeño (or to taste)

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)

2 tsp ground cumin

2 mangos peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The salsa will keep 2 days in the refrigerator. Serve with baked tortilla chips, or over any grilled fish or chicken.

Each 1/2 cup portion has about 50 calories.  You can also top lettuce leaves with salsa and serve as a side dish.

For a great healthy side and alternative to fatty side dishes such as creamy potato salad, try grilled fruit kabob.

 Grilled Fruit Kabobs

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice from 1 fresh lime and lime rind
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, grated lime rind, lime juice, and cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved.  Use any fresh fruit cut into one-inch pieces such as pineapple, apples, nectarines, melon, bananas, or large whole strawberries. Thread the fruit alternately onto metal skewers.  Brush kabobs with butter mixture and place on barbecue grill.  Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently and brushing generously with butter mixture until the fruit starts to brown and is heated through.
Anyone have other non-traditional BBQ sides for this upcoming 4th of July?


Build a Better Breakfast!

My Creamy Berry Smoothie

Nutritionally speaking, there are a lot of important reasons to fuel up in the morning.  Research has noted that breakfast eaters have a jump-start on: maintaining a healthy weight, meeting daily nutritional requirements, and performing better physically and mentally all day. The “problems”, however, always seem to revolve around what to eat, how long will it take to prepare, and how fast can it be eaten!  If you are getting tired of standard breakfast fare, consider the following as options:

  • Berry Creamy Smoothie-Blend 1.5 cups of blueberries (may start off as frozen and let thaw while in shower), ½ cup 1% milk fat cottage cheese, and ½ cup orange juice in a blender until thoroughly mixed. 

Each 12 ounce serving has 260 calories, 15 grams protein, 48 grams carb, 2 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, and 275 mg. of potassium.

  • Oat Bran Muffins-Make from scratch.  This is about as easy as it gets and you know what is going into your body. They can be frozen after you make a batch, and then pulled out of the freezer when you get up in the morning.  Let thaw as you shower. Enjoy with some orange or low sodium V-8 juice.

When evaluating an oat bran muffin recipe, if you are watching your waistline, consider recipes without dried fruits and nuts as ingredients.  If a recipe calls for applesauce, that allows for a moister oat bran muffin.         

 Oat Bran Muffin Recipe

  • Egg and Bacon Sandwich-Toast an English muffin, add one slice low-fat cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon.  Now you have an Egg McMuffin, sans the egg, and you don’t need to stop at the drive through!

Bottom line, a better breakfast will mean a better you and better day.  If you are also thinking of lunch and dinner, here are some other suggestions! 

 Do you have a favorite, fast, and healthy breakfast idea?



The Pressure (Cooker) is On!

I was a child in the 50s. Mothers back then frequently cooked with a “scary” piece of equipment called the pressure cooker. I remember being afraid of the loud sounds it made, and always feared that the rattling piece of metal sitting atop the lid would fly off. When my mother gave me her pressure cooker after I myself became a mom, it sat in my cabinet and was never used. It was just way too intimidating to me with three small children to feed. After all, I was also concerned for their “safety”!

Fast forward to being a grandma.  Like many grandmas, I am very busy. But, as a practicing and working dietitian, I am still concerned about getting healthy foods on the table.  Modernized pressure cookers seem to be the perfect solution to preparing healthy food in limited time. They are equipped with a variety of settings, such as browning, sauteing, and warming, along with both low and high pressure settings, making it easy to prepare a complete gourmet meal in no time.  For instance, rather than going through the hassle of soaking lentils overnight, with a pressure cooker you can cook with them immediately.  What’s more, modern pressure cookers have safety features to help prevent kitchen accidents.  There are many other benefits to using a pressure cooker.  Aside from saving time, using a pressure cooker limits nutrient losses. Because all the recipe components are in one pot and the liquid is part of the main dish, all nutrients are retained. Additionally, preparing a meal with a pressure cooker saves money.  Tough and more economical cuts of meat can be used very successfully in the pressure cooker because the high pressure will tenderize the meat. Two of my favorite pressure cooker recipes can be found on this website.

So, if time is tight and healthy eating is a priority, consider lessening your personal pressure by increasing the pressure for cooking. Do you have any favorite foods you enjoy making in your pressure cooker?

Fabulous Flaxseed

The health benefits of flaxseed have been known for centuries and the health benefits continue to be recognized today.  Flax seed is a rich plant based source of omega-3 fatty acids, making for a dietary alternative to fish.  Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against heart disease, hypertension, certain cancers, and some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Flaxseed is a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber aids in reducing blood cholesterol and insoluble fiber prevents constipation. The anti-cancer benefits of flaxseed are due to plant estrogens called lignans.  Flaxseed contains more lignans than any other known plant material.

Americans typically do not eat enough of these healthful essential omega-3 fatty acids. The health benefits of flaxseed makes the effort to incorporate it into the diet worthwhile, and it is easy to do!  Ground or milled flaxseed can be added to the diet in a variety of ways such as:

  • a topping for salad
  • a thickening ingredient for soups
  • a topping for cottage cheese
  • adding to yogurt
  • adding to condiments such as mustard or mayo when making sandwiches
  • using as part of a baked product recipe or pancake mixture*
  • adding to hot and cold cereal

Flaxseed can be purchased as a whole seed, or a milled or ground meal.  Whole flaxseed, such as pictured above, is shelf stable for up to a year, but needs to be ground up to derive the health benefits.  If the product is purchased already ground or milled, once the package is opened it should be kept in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

One tablespoon of ground flaxseed has about 45 calories, 2 grams of fiber, a little protein, and a large amount of the omega-3 fatty acids you need for the day.  This is definitely food worth chewing on.  Have you tried flaxseed, and how do you add it to your diet?

*Chocolate Zucchini Muffins~ Recipe makes 24 muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup ground or milled flaxseed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups finely grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ground flaxseed in a bowl.   Cream the margarine, oil and sugar in another bowl.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, and applesauce.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and lightly mix together.  Add the grated zucchini.

Use paper baking cups to line muffin pan or generously oil or use baking spray on muffin pans. Fill tin or paper cups half way.  Bake about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.  Remove, cool and enjoy.

Nutriton Information per muffin:
Calories-175             Fiber- 1 gram               Potassium-85 mg
Sodium-250 mg        Fat-6 grams                 Carbohydrate-26 grams

Visit: http://www.flaxcouncil.ca/english/index.jsp?p=recipes1&mp=recipes for additional flaxseed facts and recipes!

“Resized” Holiday Cheesecake

Our taste buds love it, but our waist lines hate it: cheesecake. However, there are smarter ways to enjoy this treat. By using fat-free or reduced fat versions of the fattiest cheesecake ingredients, you can cut the calories by half without sacrificing taste.


Conventional Cheesecake Recipe: 1/12 of the cake=533 calories, 36 gm. fat
“Resized” Cheesecake Recipe: 1/12 of the cake=250 calories, 10 gm. fat

15 graham crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
4 (8) ounce packages or containers fat-free cream cheese
1 cup sugar
¾ cup skim milk
3 eggs
1 cup fat free sour cream
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the crushed graham crackers with the tablespoon of melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the springform pan.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Then blend in the milk and eggs one at a time mixing just enough to thoroughly incorporate into the mixture. Add the fat-free sour cream, vanilla, and flour and mix until smooth. Pour the filling into the springform pan.

Bake for one hour. Turn oven off and let cheesecake begin cooling in the oven for an additional 30 minutes before taking out of the oven. Cool thoroughly prior to serving. Consider topping each wedge with strawberries, raspberries, fresh mint, or a dollop of whipped cream. One serving is 1/12 of the cake.

By using the slimmed down versions of ingredients in recipes such as this, the only factors being affected are the total fat content and calories per serving. Enjoy this slimmed down cheesecake without guilt! Happy holidays and happy new year!

“Resized” Holiday Spinach Dip

“Resized” Holiday Spinach Dip The merry holidays have arrived, bringing with them plenty of social engagements and delicious food. For many people, delicious often means “full of calories.” However, it doesn’t have to. With a bit of crafty cooking, you can make your favorite holiday recipes equally tasty, but with far fewer calories. Over the next few weeks, I’ll present favorite recipes and tips for “resizing” them, highlighting principles along the way that will help you manage your caloric intake, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

This week, we’ll begin by exploring how to tweak a popular appetizer- spinach dip. A favorite of many, this dish packs a mean 72 calories in each tablespoon. While that may not seem like a lot, remember most of us don’t stop at a tablespoon! Making a few key changes to this recipe can reduce the caloric count to 50 calories per tablespoon. While cutting down 20 calories may not seem like a big deal, keep in mind that most people probably eat about five tablespoons, which translates to at least 100 calories saved. During the holidays, those calories all add up quickly.

Conventional Spinach Dip Recipe: 1 Tablespoon serving size = 72 calories

Resized Spinach Dip Recipe: 1 Tablespoon serving size = 50 calories

“Resized” Holiday Spinach Dip

1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 package KNORR brand vegetable Soup, Dip, and Recipe Mix
3 green onions
1 8-oz. can drained, chopped water chestnuts
1 container no fat sour cream
1 cup no fat mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together. Chill for several hours to blend flavors. Stir well. Serve with
crackers, cut up vegetables, or cubed bread. This goes nicely into a scooped out round loaf of sourdough bread with the scooped out bread being used as a dipping food.

Substituting the fat-free versions of mayonnaise and sour cream in this recipe, and virtually all recipes for that matter, will help whittle your waist without compromising the taste!