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Health and wellness - Chef Lynn's Cooking Diary

Archive for the ‘Health and wellness’ Category

Quinoa Fruit Salad a Great Post-Workout Snack for Muscle Building

Quinoa (keen-wah) has been around for thousands and thousands of years, but only has become popular in the last few years.  It originated with the Incas in the mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru and continues to be a prominent food source in that region.

Many think that quinoa, which is gluten-free and considered easy to digest, is a grain; but it is actually a seed.  According to Women’s Health Magazine, when cooked, a 3.5 oz serving provides 120 calories and contains eight grams of protein per cup. Plus, it’s considered a complete protein, meaning it packs all nine essential amino acids your body needs to build and repair muscles; which makes it a GREAT post-workout snack.

You can eat quinoa raw or cooked for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and for in between snacks.  One of my go to recipes that I like is a ‘Quinoa Fruit Salad’ with fresh seasonal fruit. During the Summer I use fresh berries and melons and during the Fall pears and apples.  You can boost the sweetness of the fruit with a couple tablespoons of honey, agave, maple or any flavored syrup.  Try it and let me know your thoughts.

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing          serves 5


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cups sliced strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or raspberries or combo of all
  • 1 cups diced mango or papayas
  • 1 cups diced peaches
  • 5-6 Mint leaves chopped


  1. Using a very fine strainer, rinse quinoa under cold water. Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes.
  2. Turn heat to low and simmer about 12 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let quinoa cool to room temperature.
  3. To make the dressing, combine lime juice and honey. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, strawberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple and mint. Pour dressing over salad and mix until well combined. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note..You can use any seasonal fresh fruit that you wish. If you use frozen fruit, you must defrost it first.



Herb and Fruit Vinegars

I’m hoping that you enjoyed my previous tips on preparing herb butters and oil.  I love preparing them both. Today’s recipe is on another one of my favorites: preparing flavored vinegars.

Seasoned vinegar is especially useful for making marinades and salad dressing due to its deeply infused flavors.

Herb or fruit flavored vinegar may be made by combining in sterilized jars or bottles:

  • 1 cup fresh herbs or fruit (bruise slightly to release their oils) or 1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped herbs and
  • 2 cups of white or red wine vinegar (It’s important to find a high-quality white or red wine vinegar to start with, one with minimal levels of ethyl acetate, the compound that shows up in lesser-quality vinegars.)

Tightly cap the container and set aside to steep in a warm place for about two weeks checking daily. Strain and discard herbs. Repeat with fresh herbs/fruit for richer flavor. Decant into sterilized jars or bottles with a tight-fitting cap.

You can also add vinegar and herbs or fruit to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and slowly cook two minutes. Strain through a coffee filter inside a strainer and store.

Typical herbs to use singly or in a combination are: basil, dill tarragon, rosemary, celery seed, cranberry, mustard seed.

Add a couple of sprigs of herbs or a few seeds to the final product for a festive-looking bottle.  Remember to keep away from direct sunlight.

Some flavors to try:

  • Apple Spice
  • Tarragon
  • Raspberry, Nectarines, Peaches or Mangoes
  • Lemon
  • Garlic Chive

Have you ever made your own flavored vinegar? What has been your favorite flavor? Any particular tips to impart?

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef specializing in healthy cooking, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Herb or Spice Flavored Oils

One of my favorite gifts I like to make and give is  herbal or spiced infused olive oil.  It can be used for salad dressings, cooking, or as a table condiment.
It is easy to make herb and/or spice infused olive oils at home. You do though have to plan ahead to let the oil steep for 2 weeks before using.
Herbal oils may be made with any oil but lighter oils allow the flavors of the herbs to be enjoyed more fully.
  • Light oils: extra light olive, extra virgin olive, corn, safflower, sunflower, vegetable
  • Heavy oils: peanut, sesame

To make an herb oil, first sterilize any size jar or bottle (I suggest boiling in water for approximately 10 mins.) then half-fill it with whole fresh herbs. Fill jar with oil (must cover all herbs) Tightly cap and sit aside to steep in a warm place out of sunlight for about two weeks shaking daily. Strain through coffee filter and discard herbs.

Taste the product and repeat steps for richer flavor and body. Re-sterilize container.

Decant final product into a sterilized container with tight-fitting cap. Add a couple of fresh sprigs of herbs and/or a few compatible seeds to final product for a festive looking bottle

Typical herbs to use: garlic, tarragon, thyme, various peppers (hot or mild), basil, rosemary, oregano or bay leaf.

I like to use my flavored oils when grilling vegetables or seafood.

What are some of your uses.  Send me your comments.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef specializing in healthy cooking, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Chef Lynn’s Daily Cooking Tip

Here are some simple modifications you can make to your recipes to make it healthier:

Instead of using one egg, use two egg whites

Saute in broth or stock instead of butter or oil

1/2 cup of mayonnaise plus 1/2 cup nonfat of yogurt can be substituted for 1 cup of mayo

Use 1 cup of nonfat yogurt plus 1 to 2 tbsp buttermilk in place of 1 cup of sour cream

Instead of 1 cup of heavy cream try using 1 cup of evaporated skim milk

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Four Simple Rules to Help You Keep Your Food Safe


I always remind my clients that it’s very important to take care when preparing and consuming food to prevent food borne illness. This is especially important for groups at particularly high risk, such as older people, pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, and young kids.

You too can be food smart by following four simple rules:


  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for 20 seconds before handling food, after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
  • After preparing each food item, wash utensils, and surfaces.
  • Use non-porous cutting boards and run them through the dishwasher after each use.
  • Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking them.


  • Don’t cross contaminate which is how bacteria spreads from one food to another
  • Never allow raw beef, seafood or their juices to touch other foods.
  • Use different cutting boards for raw meat products.


  • Use a clean food thermometer to make sure foods have reached a safe internal temperature
  • Roasts and steaks should reach an internal temperature of 145degrees F and poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
  • Don’t use recipes in which eggs remain raw or partially cooked.
  • When microwaving, make sure there are no cold spots in food where bacteria can survive.
  • Always bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil when reheating to a temperature of at least 165 degrees.


  • For starters, ensure your refrigerator stays at least 40 degree or below. Your freezer should be 0 degrees or lower.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave.
  • Don’t refreeze thawed food.
  • Divide large amounts of cook foods into small, shallow containers and cover loosely so that heat escapes.

Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.

Ever Wonder what the Recently Enacted Food Law Means for Us?


Over the past few years, several high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach and peanut products to eggs, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which President Obama recently signed into law gives the FDA a mandate to pursue a system that is based on science and addresses hazards from farm to table, putting greater emphasis on preventing food-borne illness.

If you are like me, you may have wondered what some of the provisions are and how they will affect consumers. Well I decided to do some research and wanted to share with you some of the major provisions of the law below:

•Issuing recalls: In the past, the FDA had to rely on food manufacturers and distributors to recall food voluntarily. Now the FDA will have the authority to order a recall of food products.

•Conducting inspections: There will be more frequent inspections of foods and facilities that pose a greater risk to food safety.

•Importing food: Better enforcement of FDA’s ability to oversee food produced in foreign countries and imported into the United States. Also, FDA has the authority to prevent food from entering this country if the facility has refused U.S. inspection.

•Preventing problems: All Food facilities must have a written plan that spells out the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products. The plan would outline steps that the facility would take to help prevent those problems from occurring.

•Focusing on science and risk: The law establishes science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. This is an important step forward. These standards will consider both natural and man-made risks to the safety of fresh produce.

•Respecting the role of small businesses and farms: The law also provides some flexibility, such as exemptions from the produce safety standards for small farms that sell directly to consumers at a roadside stand or farmer’s market as well as through a community supported agriculture program (CSA).

Let’s all hope that this law will take the critical steps toward strengthening the food safety system that is vital to the health and security of all of us.

Spicy Dry Roasted Chickpeas

I like to have healthy snacks on hand around the house and in particular, stored next to my bed on my night stand for the middle of the night muchies.  One of my favorites to make is spicy dry roasted chickpeas.  I like chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans) because they are an excellent source of protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. You can enjoy them year-round by purchasing them either dried or canned.  I buy mine locally from DeKalb Farmers Market in dry form. 

Dried Chickpeas


I’ve tried roasting both canned chickpeas and also dry chickpeas and I have found that dry chickpeas that have been soaked and cooked are better suited to roasting because they have absorbed less liquid and are firmer. They become drier and crisper during roasting. 

 So here’s my recipe for spicy dry roasted chickpeas. 


  • 2 cups of cooked or canned chick-peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (I love the flavor infused olive oil by Boyajian..check out www.boyajianinc.com)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of Zatarain’s or Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning salt


(If you are using canned chickpeas skip step one) 

Pick over and rinse the chickpeas. Put in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook until tender. 

Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil and spices. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. 


Roast 40-50 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and make a rattling sound when you shake the baking sheet. 


Snack with iced cold beer while watching the football games!

Post Work-Out Meals -What you eat after a workout matters!

What you eat after a workout matters!


No matter what time of day you exercise, the key is to follow up with meals that combine protein, which helps your muscles recover, and carbohydrates, which replenish energy stores. For best results, have a small snack that contains carbs and protein within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise, when muscles are most receptive. Liquids like smoothies, shakes, or chocolate milk, and/or energy bars can be especially effective snacks after a workout.


Here are a few recipes that I’ve collected (some I modified a bit) over the years from Cooking Light Magazine.  Try some of these recipes and let me know your thoughts.


An egg sandwich or omelet is a perfect post-workout breakfast. There’s protein in both the yolk and the white of an egg. Eggs also contain zinc, which aids in metabolism and immunity, and vitamin B12, which supports cell production. 


Smoked Mozzarella, Spinach, and Pepper Omelet Sandwiches

2 tablespoons  fat-free milk

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

6  large egg whites

3  large eggs

Dash of hot pepper sauce

Cooking spray

1  cup  finely diced red bell pepper

3/4  cup  prechopped onion

4  sourdough English muffins, split

1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese

1 1/2  cups  bagged baby spinach leaves



Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined; set aside.


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper and onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat to medium. Pour egg mixture into pan; let egg mixture set slightly. Tilt pan; carefully lift edges of omelet with a spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath cooked portion. Cook 3 minutes. Wrap handle of pan with foil; place pan under broiler. Broil 1 minute or until set and lightly browned.


Arrange muffin halves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle muffin halves evenly with cheese, and broil 1 minute or until cheese begins to brown.


Divide omelet into 4 portions; place 1 portion on bottom half of each muffin. Top evenly with spinach leaves; top with remaining muffin halves.


Nutritional Information

Calories:295 (28% from fat)

Fat:9g (sat 3.6g,mono 1.6g,poly 1.1g)









Salmon is an ideal source of protein (not to mention heart-healthy omega-3 fats). Serve with steamed veggies and brown rice to complete the meal with healthy carbohydrates and energy-producing B vitamins. Protein-rich salmon, along with fiber from vegetables and brown rice, will keep you satisfied to help avoid late-night munching. Leftovers can be served for lunch the next day.


Maple Grilled Salmon

The sweet-sour marinade is cooked down to a syrupy glaze that’s brushed on the fish as it cooks. The citrus and maple flavors would also be tasty with pork. Garnish fillets with orange slices, if desired.



1/4  cup  rice wine vinegar

3  tablespoons  maple syrup

2  tablespoons  fresh orange juice

4  (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned

Cooking spray

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper


1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 3 hours.


2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.


3. Remove fish from bag, reserving the marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes).


4. Place fish on grill rack or pan coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with marinade. Remove fish from grill; sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Nutritional Information

Calories:270 (35% from fat)

Fat:10.6g (sat 2.5g,mono 4.6g,poly 2.5g)









Peanut butter can be your post-workout secret weapon―it’s affordable, versatile, and satisfying. Don’t shy away from this nutrient powerhouse because of its fat content―just use measured portions. One tablespoon of peanut butter contains about 100 calories and 7 grams of healthy unsaturated fat. Add chicken and vegetables in a flour tortilla for an easy high-protein meal.


Chicken Saté Wraps

Coconut milk, curry powder, and peanut butter bring Indonesian flair to a quick-fix sandwich.



Cooking spray

1/2  cup  matchstick-cut carrots

1/3  cup  chopped green onions

2/3  cup  light coconut milk

1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce

1  tablespoon  rice vinegar

3  tablespoons  creamy peanut butter

1  teaspoon  curry powder

1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper

2  cups  shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast

4  (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas

1 1/3  cups  packaged angel hair slaw


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add carrots and onions; sauté 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chicken; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Remove from heat; cool. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla, and top each with 1/3 cup angel hair slaw. Roll up. Cover and chill.


Nutritional Information

Calories:321 (28% from fat)

Fat:10.1g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.7g,poly 2.1g)








Jump Start Your New Year! What to Eat Before You Work Out

What to Eat Before You Work Out


Sometimes the biggest hurdle to exercising and eating right is staying motivated. If you are like me, you may have fallen into a rut of doing the same old workout and eating the same old meals for a while and chances are you may be getting bored. 


Over the holidays when I was planning my life strategy for 2010, I decided to go back to the basics I used to follow a few years ago when I had an office away from home.  That included incorporating more walking to places throughout the day and making sure that I followed a balanced diet (3 meals and 2-3 snacks).


I compiled some of my old favorite recipes (some  I created and some I modified from other sources) that I continue to use for myself and  some of my customers to help me get the new year started.  I will be sharing them with you over the next few days and I welcome your feedback so please feel free to leave a reply.


Today’s focus is on getting an idea of what to eat before and after a workout for maximum results. Fitness expert, Dean Anderson,    says the size, timing, and content of your pre- and post-exercise meals and snacks can play an important role in your energy levels during your workout, how well your body recovers and rebuilds after your workout, and whether the calories you eat will be used as fuel or stored as fat.


Here’s what you need to eat and drink to get the results you want:


Pre-Exercise Fluid Needs


Drink 16-20 ounces of water during the 1-2 hours before starting your workout.


Pre-Exercise Meal or Snack


Most of the fuel you use during exercise comes from the carbohydrates (called “glycogen”) and fat that’s stored in your muscles, liver, and fat cells. So you may not need to eat anything before you work out. If on the other hand, you have a hard time exercising without eating first, you’ll probably want to eat before your workout.


There are two suggestions for a pre-exercise meal/snack:


1. Eat a small (100- to 200-calorie) snack about 30 minutes before you work out. This snack should include fast-digesting (high glycemic index) carbohydrates and very little fat which digests slowly.  Here are some ideas:

Fruit juice

Fruit smoothie

High-glycemic fruits like pineapple, apricots, banana, mango, and watermelon

Sports drinks

Pretzels or bagels (but not whole grain varieties, which digest slowly)

Energy bars (look for 3-5 grams of protein, at least 15 grams of carbs, and very little fat)


2. Eat a nutritionally balanced meal 1-2 hours before your exercise. The larger the meal, and the more fat and protein it contains, the longer you may need to wait before exercising. Ideally, try to eat enough calories to equal about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout. So if you burn about 600 calories during your workout, aim for at least 300 calories during this meal — or a little more if your exercise is “high intensity” (over 75% of your maximum heart rate). At least 50-60% of these calories should come from carbohydrates, which should keep your blood sugar and energy levels fairly stable during your exercise session. Include some protein to help prevent the breakdown of muscle for fuel and give your muscles a headstart on recovery after exercise. Some good food choices and combinations for this kind of meal include:

Fruit and yogurt



Cereals (with more than 3 grams of fiber) and milk

Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit

Hummus and raw veggies

Hard boiled eggs (or egg whites)

Cottage cheese and fruit

Half a peanut butter or turkey/chicken sandwich on whole grain bread

Whole grain crackers with nut butter or cheese

Whole grain fig (or fruit) Newton cookies

Milk (especially chocolate milk)

Tomato or vegetable juice

Yogurt smoothie (with added protein powder, if desired)

Most protein/energy bars

The most important things are getting to know your body and how it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best. Eating the right foods at the right times before you work out is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.


Tomorrow…What to Eat After You Work Out



Information extracted from http://tinyurl.com/422uet

Chef Lynn Ware


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