Tag Archives: belly fat

Versatile Pesto

Now that I’m focused on MUFAs, I am experimenting more with one of my favorites, pesto. Here is my recipe for making the basic sauce, in case you don’t have one. Use a food processor or blender if you don’t have the Vita-Mix, and allow more time for the mixture to blend.


Vita-Mix Pesto
Yields 1 cup sauce

2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup pine nuts (Or Walnuts will work)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (Must be EVOO)
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Italian blend seasoning (or dried oregano)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese
(optional: dash of salt)

Place these ingredients in the order listed into the Vita-Mix container. Secure lid. On Variable speed #5-6, process until thoroughly combined (may have to use tamper to push ingredients into the blades). Usually the process takes 20 seconds. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to ten days (but mine seldom lasts that long!)

Pesto sauce is high calorie, so use it sparingly. Thin it with the cooking water from pasta to make a delicious pasta sauce or thin a tablespoon with about 1 or 2 tablespoons water to dress your salad. You can cook with pesto sauce, too. Spread a little over a boneless, skinless chicken breast. (Cook gently, though. The garlic turns bitter at higher temperatures, so cook low and slow or add after removing food from heat) For a snack, dip fresh vegetables in some of the pesto sauce, or spoon some inside a celery stick.

A little goes a long way. Pesto is rich in taste and in calories. It’s also rich in MUFAs, thanks to the nuts and olive oil, so enjoy a little each day.


If you struggle with growing your own herbs or live where it’s difficult to have an herb garden, check out the AeroGarden. You can grow herbs, tomatoes, or salad greens (or even flowers) the NASA way, using hydroponic technology. I recently added an AeroGarden to my kitchen, where it sits on my table as a centerpiece. In making my pesto sauce, I had all the fresh herbs I needed at hand. I’ll be the first to admit it’s an extravagance; I could buy lots of herbs at the supermarket for what an AeroGarden costs! On second thought, considering the price of fuel and the fact that I live 12 miles one way from the closest grocery store …

AeroGarden after three weeks

AeroGarden after three weeks


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Filed under Basil, cooking, Healthful Eating, Pesto, Recipes

What in the world is a MUFA?

Happy Spring! I enjoy slow-cooking chili and baking muffins in the winter
months, but I miss the lighter fare. Here in Florida, warm weather has returned
to the Hasty Tasty Kitchen. It’s time to leave behind heavy stews and get back
to salads.


What in the world are MUFAs?

I avoid fad diets, or any diet for that matter, but I pay attention to advice
for healthful eating. The latest information on reducing belly fat (too much of
a spare tire is an indicator of increased risk for heart disease) concerns
eating fats. That’s right. We need to add fat–the right kind of fat–to our
diets. PREVENTION magazine recommends eating four meals a day, with each meal
including a serving of a MUFA-rich food. MUFA=MonoUnsaturated FAts.

What foods should we include in our diets to obtain MUFAs? Olives, nuts and
seeds, avocados, fish, oils (safflower oil is highest, but olive and canola oil
are good), and dark chocolate. Chocolate! Don’t you love it? Of course, this
information is meant to augment, not replace the other advice for healthful
eating. You still need your 5 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit
per day, and you need to eliminate saturated and trans fats as much as you can.
If you’re trying to lose weight, watch your calories and keep each of your four
daily meals around 400 calories for women/ 500-600 for men.

For more information on how to enrich your diet with MUFAs, see the February
2008 issue of PREVENTION, or read the FLAT BELLY DIET by Liz Vaccariello with
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. Or visit http://www.flatbellydiet.com.


Sauté vegetables, fish, or chicken by rubbing a MUFA on the food rather than
coating a skillet to reduce the amount of fat. Although you want a MUFA with
each meal, you still should exercise portion control. Fat is high-calorie.
Another way to get a MUFA in your meal is to drizzle a Tablespoon of flaxseed
oil over your salad (You can’t cook with flaxseed oil). Experiment with herbs
to jazz up the flavor. Eat a serving (½ cup) brown rice cooked with toasted
nuts. Or add an avocado slice to your chicken breast along with a sprig of
fresh cilantro or basil.


Bean Salsa Salad
Take this one to your next picnic! It’s high fiber, healthful, and contains a
serving of a MUFA!

1-16oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
1-16oz can navy beans rinsed and drained
2-11oz. cans Mexi-corn drained
2-4oz. cans chopped green chiles drained
1-small can jalepenos (optional)
1-red bell pepper chopped
1 cup cilantro finely chopped
combine all in a non-metallic bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2/3 c apple cider vinegar, 1/3 c safflower
oil, and a pinch of cumin to taste. Add mixture to the bean salsa, toss well, then chill. Best if
made a day ahead. Enjoy!


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Filed under cooking, Healthful Eating, Recipes, Salads