Recipe Doctor: Elaine Magee MPH, RD

Changing the Way America Eats – One Recipe at a Time

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Recipe of the Month — August

August 30th, 2015 · No Comments

Cajun Chicken (or Salmon) Pasta
(A light version of the Chili’s favorite!)

I was recently asked to do a lighter version of this favorite dish by a few NFL football players. Make it with the traditional grilled or roasted chicken or try it with some salmon leftover from last nights barbecue!


Makes 3-4 servings
1 1/2 cups whole milk, fat free half and half or lowfat milk, divided
1/4 cup light cream cheese
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
2 tablespoons whipped butter (no- trans margarine can be substituted)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika (add more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more to taste)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded or diced grilled or roasted chicken (skinless meat off of a rotisserie chicken works great for this) or grilled salmon
About 4 cups whole grain fettuccine or rotini or penne, cooked an drained
2-3 tablespoons chopped green onions (white and part of green)
1/4 cup chopped vine ripened tomatoes

1. Combine 1/4 cup of the milk, the cream cheese, and flour in a small mixing bowl or a mini food processor. Beat or pulse until well blended. Slowly pour in remaining milk and beat until smooth.
2. Melt the butter in a medium, thick nonstick saucepan over medium heat, stirring until nicely browned. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the milk mixture and paprika, cayenne, black pepper and continue to heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce has just thickened. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the Parmesan and chicken. Gently stir in the hot pasta.
3. Spoon into individual servings on plates or bowls and top each with the green onions and tomatoes.

NOTE: Many versions of this dish contain 900+ calories per serving, 60+ grams of fat and 37+ grams of saturated fat. This performance rendition contains:
552 calories, 37 g protein, 65 g carbohydrate, 14.5 g fat, 8.5 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber.

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Recipe of the Month — March

March 19th, 2015 · No Comments

Corned beef usually comes with a blanket of visible fat on one side. Keep this vegetable-rich dish lean and mean by trimming away any visible fat from the cut before you cook it. Here’s a nifty little recipe I’ve developed that cooks slowly all day with no attention from the cook. Can’t beat that. Keep it Irish by drizzling a bottle of Guinness over the top.


Serves 6

2 1/2 pound corned beef brisket (point cut if possible), trimmed of all
visible fat, plus flavor packet (if it’s included in the package)
1 onion, quartered and broken into pieces
4 whole carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
4 medium potatoes, cut into about 8 pieces each
1 bottle beer (12 ounces light or nonalcoholic beer of your choice)
1 head cabbage, shredded

1. Place corned beef brisket in slow cooker. Sprinkle the seasoning
packet contents over the top, if using. Spread onion over top of
brisket, then carrots and potatoes. Pour beer over all.

2. Set slow cooker on High and cook 4-5 hours or on Low for about 8
hours. Add shredded cabbage, and spoon the hot liquid from the bottom
of the slow cooker over the top of cabbage (a ladle works best for

3. Remove cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions from slow cooker and
arrange on a serving platter and keep warm. Remove corned beef and
let rest 5-10 minutes. Slice brisket and arrange on serving platter
with vegetables. Ladle some of the juices in the bottom of slow
cooker into a gravy dish, if you like, to serve with the meat and

Per serving: [In this nutritional analysis, the amount of fat and calories is
high because the analysis includes the visible fat found on corned
beef. If you trim all visible fat from the meat, both of these numbers will be much lower.]
494 calories, 26 g protein, 46 g carbohydrate, 22 g fat,
7 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 6.5 g fiber, 1,300 mg sodium.

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Recipe of the Month – February

February 7th, 2015 · No Comments

It’s a stormy start for the month of February in most parts of the country so I thought I would share one of my Valentine’s favorite comforting winter dishes. It’s actually from my book, TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME.


Mini Meatloaf Au Gratin

Makes 5 mini loaves

2 pounds ground sirloin or other extra lean ground beef
1/4 cup egg substitute or 1 egg or 2 egg whites
3/4 reduced fat or regular extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 small onion, chopped (omit if onion causes you trouble)
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or panko crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon or prepared mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups tomato sauce or marinara sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Coat five mini loaf pans with canola cooking spray.
2. Add ground beef, egg, cheese, onion, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper to large mixing bowl. Mix well with a beater on low speed, hands or a wooden spoon.
3. Add approximately 1 cup of the mixture to each prepared loaf pan. Bake about 25 minutes. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of tomato sauce over each mini loaf while in the pan and bake an additional 5 to 8 minutes to heat tomato sauce.

Per serving: 339 calories, 36 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat (6 grams saturated fat), 58 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 815 mg sodium (if 1/2 teaspoons is added.)

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Recipe of the Month — December

December 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Healthier Holiday Gingerbread Muffins

The warm aroma of spicy-sweet gingerbread is a welcomed holiday tradition, but many baked goods are overloaded with butter, refined grains and sugar. With some smart ingredient substitutions, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too!

Gingerbread Muffins

These moist muffins call for less butter and sugar than a traditional cake recipe, resulting in about a third less calories and more than 50% less fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Makes 20 muffins

1 cup Boiling Water
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Unbleached White Flour
2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Ground Cloves
½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ cup Canola Oil
¼ cup Fat-Free Sour Cream, Greek yogurt or Fat-Free Cream Cheese
½ cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Unsulfured Molasses
1 large Egg
¼ cup Egg Substitute or Egg Whites
Powdered Sugar (Optional Garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with 20 paper cupcake liners.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and boiling water. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the white flour, whole wheat flour, spices, salt, and baking powder.
4. In a large mixing bowl beat together the canola oil, light cream cheese or sour cream, and brown sugar with an electric mixer.
5. While beating on low speed, slowly pour in the molasses, the baking soda mixture, and the egg and egg substitute.
6. Continuing beating on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
7. Fill muffin cups with about ¼ cup of batter each. Bake for about 22-25 minutes.
Optional: Dust with powdered sugar.

Per muffin: 150 calories, 3 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 3.1 g fat, .3 g saturated fat, 1.9 g monounsaturated fat, .9 g polyunsaturated fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 250 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 18 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids = .3 grams

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Recipe of the Month – September

September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

Here’s a comforting fall favorite featuring a new technique of blending mushroom pieces with lean meat to cut down on the amount of meat per serving and boost all sorts of nutrients from mushrooms.


Mushroom Blend Turkey Chili
Makes 5 (1-cup) servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped red, green or yellow bell peppers (1/2 whole)
3 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (sliced white button or portabella can be substituted)
10 ounces ground turkey (93% lean)
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
16-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 teaspoons basil flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

1. In extra large, deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent and mushrooms are nicely cooked.
2. Add ground turkey to skillet with vegetables and cook until browned, breaking up turkey into crumbles as it cooks using a potato masher or similar.
3. Add remaining ingredients (crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, chili powder, maple syrup, chicken stock, garlic powder, hot sauce, seasoning salt, basil and oregano) and stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer chili for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Per cup: 283 calories, 22 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber, 980 mg sodium.

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Recipe of the Month – August

August 26th, 2014 · No Comments

Check out Elaine’s new edition of her best-selling book “TELL ME WHAT TO EAT IF I HAVE DIABETES”


–This month’s recipe is to celebrate the berries of summer before the season is over–

Whole Wheat Blender Swedish Pancakes
Makes 6 servings (about 2 large pancakes each)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, higher omega-3 and/or cage free
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 cups lowfat milk
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

(Optional) 3 cups fresh fruit for filling if desired

1. Place first nine ingredients in blender. Mix on medium speed until batter is smooth (about 1-2 minutes).
2. Heat large, nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Coat with canola cooking spray. Drop 1/4 cup of batter into skillet; tilt pan to coat the pan evenly and make a circle. In about a minute, the edges will brown lightly. Turn the pancake over and cook other side for about a minute. Remove pancake with spatula to holding plate.
3. Repeat with remaining batter. Fill each pancake with fresh fruit of choice and roll up. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Per serving (with strawberries): 179 (205) calories, 8 (9) g protein, 21 (27) g carbohydrate, 7 (7.5) g fat, 1.5 (1.7) g saturated fat, 3.5 (3.6) g monounsaturated fat, 1.5 (1.7) g polyunsaturated fat, 42 mg cholesterol, 2 (3.5) g fiber, 280 (281) mg sodium.

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Recipe of the Month – July

August 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers (Microwave-Ready)

  • This is a great summer recipe because you use the microwave for all of the cooking!
  • You can make the peppers vegetarian by leaving out the sausage!
  • If you need to follow a low sodium diet, delete the salt added and use low sodium marinara or tomato sauce.


Makes 3 stuffed peppers

3 large red peppers (green, yellow or orange can be substituted)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (canola oil can be substituted)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup (at least) sliced crimini or white mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced or chopped garlic
4 ounces light turkey sausage (your choice), finely chopped (grass-fed super lean ground beef can be substituted)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) ground allspice
1 cup bottled marinara sauce (tomato sauce can be substituted)
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Cut the top off the peppers (reserve the tops) and scoop out the seeds and the inside flesh. Discard the stems, chop the pepper tops and set aside. Place the peppers on a large microwave-safe dish with about a cup of water in the bottom, cover, and microwave on HIGH until just tender (about 8 minutes). Remove the peppers from the dish and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, mushrooms, parsley, garlic, and reserved chopped pepper pieces. Sauté the mixture, stirring often, until the onions are soft (about 4-6 minutes). Spoon into a large bowl.
3. Add the sausage to the same skillet and cook over medium heat, crumbling the meat with spatula as it cooks and is nicely browned (about 5 minutes). Add the meat to the onion mixture, and then add the rice, paprika, salt, pepper, allspice, and ½ cup of the marinara sauce. Stir to blend the ingredients well.
4. Fill the peppers with rice mixture and stand the filled peppers in a loaf pan or similar deep dish and microwave on HIGH for about 8 minutes. Pour the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the tops of the peppers and sprinkle with the cheese, if desired. Microwave, uncovered, for about 2 minutes longer and serve!

Per pepper: 354 calories, 14 g protein, 55 g carbohydrate, 9.4 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber, 1,043 mg sodium.

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Diabetes: Surprising Foods That Can Help Lower Blood Sugar

June 17th, 2014 · No Comments

For the 26 million people in the U.S. with diabetes and the estimated 79 million American adults with pre-diabetes, there has never been a better time to start managing and improving your diabetes. Researchers know more today than they did just five years ago about diet, insulin, medications and complications.

Each person with type 2 diabetes needs to work out his/her particular eating, exercise or medical plan so it translates into normal blood sugars in his/her particular body. In general food and meal choices that work best for these people are lower sugar, lower sodium, higher fiber, lean meats and plant protein, fruits and vegetables and sources of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Beyond that there are some specific and even surprising foods that may help lower blood sugars in people with diabetes. Information and recipes for the following can be found in the new edition of my best-selling book, Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Diabetes.

Foods with little to no carbohydrate

The following foods, when eaten alone, even in large amounts, are not likely to cause a significant rise in blood sugar because they contain few carbohydrates:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Dark green veggies and salad vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms

Some Nuts (a 2-ounce serving of these nuts contain 5 grams or less net carbs: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts).

Foods with synergy

In my book, FOOD SYNERGY, I looked at research that suggested synergy within and between certain foods or food components—where components seemed to work together for maximum health benefit. Foods with synergy that seemed to keep insulin levels steady include:

  • Whole grains
  • Soluble fiber in oats
  • Soy protein
  • Ground flaxseed

Foods and food partnerships with synergy that might improve blood sugar control include:

  • Fiber
  • Whole grains
  • Soluble fiber in oats
  • Beans
  • Ground flaxseed

Green Tea

I’m a big green/white tea advocate because of all the antioxidant plant compounds (polyphenols) it provides, but there are possibly bigger benefits for people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. More investigation needs to be done, but a review of 17 randomized clinical trials suggests green tea consumption was associated with lower fasting blood sugar levels and lower fasting insulin levels.


There’s a lot more to beans than helping fill burritos! It’s the whole nutritional package (both types of fiber, carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals and assorted plant compounds) that may help improve blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes. The plant protein and fiber in beans slow digestion (releasing carbs into the bloodstream slowly), which can help lessen the rise in blood sugar. The protein may help stimulate the release of insulin after the meal, while the protein and fiber also enhance the feeling of fullness.


Buckwheat does appear to be a potentially “magical” intact whole grain for people with diabetes; new research suggests buckwheat extract lowered meal-related blood sugar levels by 12-19 percent when given to rats. Look for buckwheat soba noodles and start experimenting with buckwheat groats.

Whey protein

Whey protein hydrolysates may prove to be helpful anti-diabetic agents, according to new research with obese diabetic mice. The whey protein improved blood glucose clearance, reduced elevated insulin levels, and remarkably restored the ability of pancreas cells to release insulin in response to glucose. These amazing potential benefits aren’t totally out of the blue, past research has linked lowfat dairy with a reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes and specific amino acids in milk have been reported to stimulate insulin secretion.


Several studies suggest cinnamon has a possible blood sugar lowering effect. For example, one study suggested less than a half-teaspoon of cinnamon a day might reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Another study found 2 teaspoons helped lower blood sugar levels after meals. More research needs to be done but in the meantime, sprinkle some cinnamon in your morning cereal, yogurt, smoothies, or coffee/lattes.


Stay tuned as more research trial results become available, but put mushrooms on our list of potential foods with anti-diabetic properties. So far, preliminary data from human trials appear to mirror the encouraging results in diabetic animal research, which includes potential in helping to lower plasma glucose, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and serum triglycerides. Polysaccharides (possibly both alpha- and beta- glucans) are the plant compounds in mushrooms that are thought to be responsible for these desirable effects. The mechanism needs to be confirmed, but some researchers suspect they work directly with insulin receptors on target tissues.

Diet Soda

Diet soda can be a great alternative for soda lovers because they don’t contribute carbohydrates or calories. Recent intervention studies point toward a beneficial effect of low or no calorie sweeteners on fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels as well as insulin levels, energy or calorie intake and body weight—all things that people with diabetes care about. Certainly it is important to drink water most of the time, but there is definitely room within a healthy diabetic lifestyle to enjoy a diet soda when a flavored beverage is preferred.

Originally published at Fact Based Health

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Happy Father’s Day: How to Keep Your Favorite Men Healthy

June 13th, 2014 · No Comments

If you are a man, pay attention. If you are a woman who loves a man, pay attention. In honor of father’s day, I wanted to present some key nutrition tips–with men’s health issues in mind.

Men are a little special when it comes to health because of a few things:

They go to the doctor less than women and are more likely to have a serious condition when they finally go.
They are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables compared to women and more likely to eat red meats and other sources of saturated fat like fast food.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer of men ate 45 to 54! And men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke compared to women.
One out of three men have high blood pressure and a third of them don’t even know it. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, ED and kidney disease.

Besides going to the doctor for check ups, exercising regularly, and not smoking, here are some nutrition tips that can help men with the above health concerns.


#1 A Handful of Nuts A Day Or A Nut-Filled (low sugar) Bar

Nuts are rich in antioxidants along with monounsaturated fat and most contribute phytosterols, which help lower blood cholesterol, enhance the immune system and decrease the risk of cancers. Along with reducing the risk of heart disease, nuts may also reduce the risk of diabetes. Nuts are considered a smart snack for people with diabetes because when eaten alone, they tend not to raise blood glucose levels.

One convenient way to “get nutty” every day is to snack on a nut-filled bar made from ingredients you can see and pronounce like STRONG & KIND which contain 10 grams of natural protein per bar in bold flavors including Honey Smoked BBQ, Honey Mustard and Roasted Jalapeno.

#2 Fatty Fish

Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring) are the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which I would categorize as “smart fats” because they appear to benefit the heart, circulation, and immune system. Omega-3s are potent anti-inflammatory substances that help lower serum triglyceride levels, reduce aches and pains in athletes and possibly people with certain kinds of arthritis. Try to eat fish twice a week if possible.

#3 Plant Omega-3s

Plant sources of omega-3s are also important to get on a daily basis. To boost the plant omega-3s in your diet, add a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed every day, switch to canola oil as your cooking oil (along with extra virgin olive oil), enjoy walnuts often in recipes, and buy higher omega-3 eggs if available.

#4 Eat Your Vegetables! Particularly dark leafy greens and the cabbage family veggies

There are three groups of plant compounds that are particularly helpful and protective against cardiovascular disease (polyphenols, plant sterols/stanols and lignans). You can find them in the red/purple fruits, beans and nuts & seeds, and assorted vegetables especially the dark leafy greens and cabbage family veggies.

#5 Embrace the Brown (Whole Grains & Beans)

These are your “smart carbs” that give you fiber, all sorts of important antioxidants and phytochemicals, and even some protein along with the carbohydrates. Switch to whole grain breads whenever possible–about 40% of the carbohydrates in the typical American diet come from the bread group so switching to whole grain breads could have a big impact on health. Try to include beans several times a week either as an entrée or side dish or added to soups or salads.

Originally published on Yahoo Voices

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Recipe of the Month — April

April 22nd, 2014 · 2 Comments

To celebrate Spring and all the succulent strawberries starting to hit the produce stands, here’s a lighter version of my mom’s amazing strawberry cheesecake.

Grandma’s Strawberry Cheesecake
Makes 12-14 servings

strawberry cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (12 whole crackers)
6 tablespoons melted whipped butter or less fat margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Filling:
2 packages, 8 ounces each, light cream cheese or Neufchatel (let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so it blends better)
2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, higher omega-3 if available
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Sour cream topping:
1 cup of light sour cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate with canola cooking spray.
2. Add graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish; set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, egg substitute, and almond extract until well blended and fluffy. Pour into graham cracker crust.
4. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes. Top evenly with 2 cups sliced strawberries.
5. In medium bowl, combine 1 cup of light sour cream, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and vanilla extract with whisk. Spread over strawberry topped cheesecake and bake in oven 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per slice: 235 calories, 6.5 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 6 g fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 61 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 245 mg sodium. Omega-3 fatty acids = .2 grams, Omega-6 fatty acids = .7

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