Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recipe: Vietnamese Swai

This recipe is a melding of two Vietnamese favorites: Ca Chien Sot Ca Chua is a recipe for fried fish, which is then simmered in a seasoned tomato sauce. Nuoc Cham is a popular Vietnamese condiment. To save time and healthy up the recipe, here swai is poached in a tomato-based broth seasoned with made-from-scratch nuoc cham. The end result is a flavorful fish dish that, in typical Asian style, melds sweet, spicy, savory, salty, and sour flavors.

If you can't find Vietnamese fish sauce (widely available at Asian markets), any fish sauce (or even soy sauce) can be used to replace it, but it won't have quite the same authenticity. I serve this dish with orzo, but you can serve it as-is, with noodles, or with rice, as desired. I like it served in a bowl with orzo; it turns out like a thick stew. I like to think of it as comfort food, Vietnamese-style!


2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn mix
1 pound swai
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


Combine tomatoes, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, and peppercorn mix in a large skillet. Add swai and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fish flakes easily. Add green onions and cilantro, and stir to combine, breaking up fish into bite-sized pieces.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recipe: Greek Salmon with Orzo

I've tweaked this recipe a little since I posted it back in 2009. I amped up the dressing with lemon juice, ground cayenne, and peppercorn mix to give it a bit more zip. Opa!

Greek Salmon with Orzo

I developed this recipe when experimenting with orzo for the first time. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta associated with Greece, so I used seasonings and ingredients reminiscent of a Greek flavor profile. It was an immediate hit with my family, and continues to be a family favorite. The recipe makes about 10 cups, so if you're cooking for 1 or 2, you may wish to halve the recipe.


1 (1-pound) package orzo
1 pound salmon fillets
Water (about 4 cups)
½ cup bottled minced garlic (or 6 cloves garlic, minced)
2 tablespoons basil flakes
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
2 teaspoons oregano flakes
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 large tomatoes, diced (or 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained)
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 (6-ounce) can black olives, halved or sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
2 dashes ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn mix


Prepare orzo, following manufacturer’s instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, place salmon in large skillet. Add enough water to just cover. Add garlic, parsley, basil flakes, oregano, and rosemary to water, and gently stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until salmon is cooked through. Drain and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, drain out garlic and other seasonings, and reserve with salmon.

In a small measuring cup, combine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, water, cayenne, and peppercorn mix. Mix with a fork or whisk to combine.

To prepare, combine orzo, salmon and seasonings, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, fresh basil, and vinegar mixture in large bowl, breaking up salmon into bite-sized chunks and mixing well to combine.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mayday! Mayday! Mother's Day Is Around the Corner!

I recently received an e-mail from a vendor that contained a variety of gift suggestions for Mother's Day. While I loved the idea of getting a jump-start on Mother's Day shopping, I was alarmed by how many of the gift possibilities would hinder, rather than help, with weight management. That's unfortunate! So, whether you're a mom, or you're thinking about a gift for your mom, now's the perfect time to start gift-shopping...or start gift-hinting!

You don't need to settle for a bouquet of flowers or set Mom's weight management efforts back by taking her out to brunch. Instead, consider a gift grounded in the basics of successful weight management -- healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, hydration, and adequate sleep. Instead of setting her back, these outside-the-box gift ideas will give Mom a weight loss or weight maintenance boost:
  • Consider color therapy (also known as chromotherapy): At the top of my Mother's Day gift list is this LED color-changing light. I'm already thinking about how I'll enjoy a lavender-scented bath with a violet light. Want to learn more about chromotherapy? Check out Color Therapy Association's Web site at this link.
  • Experiment with aromatherapy: Did you know peppermint is associated with weight loss? Treat Mom to peppermint tea, peppermint incense ( offers a peppermint-pine incense intended for the holidays, but it's delish all year long), or a peppermint-scented aromatherapy candle. If Mom can't stand peppermint, consider aromatherapy as part of her bedtime routine, or part of a stress management plan. I think it's odd, but
  • Give Mom a back rub. One of my favorite Mother's Day gifts was a massage mat for the car. I'm grateful for it every time I get in the van!
  • Help Mom enjoy a good night's sleep. If Mom has sinus issues, a wedge pillow can make sleeping through the night considerably easier. Or, spring for a wonderful new set of sheets, pillows, or another item that will enhance Mom's time in bed. 
  • Pay for a class. Pick up the tab for a fun new exercise class, like kickboxing, bikram yoga, belly dance, or Zumba. Or, maybe Mom's into a self-nurturing activity like painting, perfumery, or gardening. Get her a gift certificate to her favorite craft store or nursery. Many craft stores and nurseries also offer classes.
  • Pick up the tab for a special treat. Treat Mom to a massage, a hair appointment, a spa day, or a mani-pedi. Consider a gift certificate to her favorite store, or donate to her favorite cause.
  • Pick up the tab for new equipment. I'm almost reluctant to include this, because giving one of these gifts can easily be misconstrued. That said, a cool new water bottle, a gift certificate for those expensive workout shoes Mom's coveting, a gorgeous new yoga outfit, a pedometer, or a fancy new scale can give the mom who's serious about weight management a terrific boost. (But don't even think about giving Mom one of these gifts unless she's asked!)
  • Expand Mom's healthy eating horizons. Treat Mom to a meal at a healthy eatery, spend a leisurely afternoon at a farmer's market, or make Mom a healthy meal you know she'll love. Make Mom a basket filled with her favorite treats from Trader Joe's.
Now, a question for moms: What's the best Mother's Day gift you've received? Let us know below!