Cindy Whitmarsh – Healthy Cooking Tips!

The Top Plank Exercises!  Plank your way to six pack abs! 

1. Basic plank

2. Plank arm walking

3. Plank tick tock

4. High plank knee tucks

5. High plank leg lifts

6. Side plank rotations

7. Side plank hip raises

8. Side plank ab crunch

Bonus: Plank reaching

Cindy’s Recipe of the Week!


(2 servings)

1 ½ cups plus 2-T. low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup chopped onion

2 t. minced garlic

2 t. minced jalapeno

½ t. ground cumin

Pinch of ground cloves

1 cup cooked or canned Great Northern white beans, drained

1 T. lime juice

8 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast, poached and shredded into bite-sized pieces

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro or dill

1 T. grated Parmesan (non-fat)


1.    In a medium soup pot, heat 2-T. broth over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, jalapeno, oregano, cayenne, cumin and cloves. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until fragrant.

2.    Add the beans, lime juice and remaining 1 ½ cups broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the chicken, adjust the seasonings, and heat through.

3.    Add the cilantro and stir gently. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Serves 2

Serving Size: ½ recipe

Calories: 350

Fat: 6g

Healthy Cooking Tips!

Sauce and Entrée Tips

Ø  To make a low fat and unique pasta sauce, sauté mushrooms like shitake or chanterelles in a nonstick pan with a little bit of oil until they’re very brown.  Then toss in aromatics like chopped onion, shallots or garlic and some herbs like thyme or sage.  Then deglaze the pan with a small amount of vermouth or other white wine, add nonfat chicken stock, and boil everything down to the consistency you like.  This creates a rich and delicious glaze style sauce that is very elegant.

Ø  To replace fat with intense flavor, grill or smoke vegetables, like tomatoes, and puree them in a blender with balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and garlic to serve with salads or grilled fish and poultry. 

Ø  Reducing liquids is another way to intensify sauce flavor.  To make a sweet-and-sour glaze for grilled pork tenderloin, chicken breasts or any white-fleshed fish, boil down fresh carrot juice with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Then add a few drops of vegetable and chili oil to perk up the taste.

Ø  Use flavorings and seasonings to enhance the taste when fats and oils are eliminated.

Ø  Lemon or lime juice and their grated peels are interesting on chicken, fish, veal, and vegetables.

Ø  For a spicy treat, Mexican salsa will add zest to anything.

Ø  Instant lower fat or nonfat substitutions for soups

If a recipe calls for:

  • Whole milk, use lowfat or skim milk
  • Whole milk, use half broth or tomato juice
  • Heavy cream or half-and-half, use whole milk
  • Sour cream or whole milk yogurt, use lowfat or nonfat yogurt

                                                            Calories                       Fat                   Cholesterol


1 cup mayonnaise                               1600                            176                              80

1 cup reduced-calorie

mayonnaise                                         800                              80                                80

1 cup cholesterol-free

mayonnaise (without egg yolk)             640                              48                                0

8 ounces cream cheese                      792                              80                                248

8 ounces low fat cream cheese           490                              35                                105

8 ounces lowfat yogurt                        140                              3.4                               14

8 ounces nonfat yogurt                       110                              0                                  5

1 cup Yogurt Cheese from lowfat         220                              6.8                               28

1 cup Yogurt Cheese from nonfat         288                              0                                  10

8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese       342                              19.6                             68

Pasta Tips-lighter, quicker and better

Here are a few tips for keeping down the fat in your favorite pasta dishes:

Ø  Think lean.  Choose tomato and vegetable-based sauces with just a little olive oil.

Ø  Sweat vegetables.  Cook vegetables in a minimal amount of olive oil in a nonstick pan to start.

Ø  Keep pasta moist.  Ladle out a little of the cooking liquid just before you drain the pasta.  Add a splash of the pasta cooking liquid when tossing the pasta with the sauce.  The starchy liquid binds with a small amount of grated cheese and what Italians call a “thread” of olive oil, forming a light sauce, with minimal fat.

Ø  Use small amounts of flavor-packed cheese.  One or 2 tablespoons per serving of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese-the real thing- provide more flavor than larger amounts of reduced-fat cheeses.  1 tablespoon of grated parmesan or romano has only 25 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.

Ø  Don’t rinse pasta with water while draining.  The starch on the pasta allows sauces to coat and stick better.

Vegetable Tips:

Ø  Any array of steamed vegetables with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is a great accompaniment to poultry, fish or meat dishes. Store lemons at room temperature for maximum juice, then cut and squeeze over cupped palm to catch seeds while allowing juices to seep through.

Ø  Sprinkle steamed veggies with a low sodium seasoning or lemon and garlic pepper for added taste. 

Ø  Continually experiment with new vegetables and combinations, especially lots of dark leafy greens for good sources of folic acid, calcium and magnesium.  Try spinach, broccoli (including broccoli sprouts), Swiss chard, escarole and kale.

Ø  If sautéing veggies, use a small amount of high quality, extra virgin olive oil to first wilt flavorful aromatics such as garlic, onion or ginger.  Then add veggies and cook al dente (crisp tender).

Ø  Instead of using butter, try potatoes with yogurt, low-fat or non-fat milk, pepper, parsley and chopped scallions or fat-free chicken broth in regular or garlic flavored.

Ø  Vitamin C is very important for its antioxidant properties, which may protect the body against cancer.

Each of the following fills the USRDA for vitamin C:

o   6 ounces grapefruit juice

o   1 kiwifruit

o   1 orange

o   ½ cup chopped red bell pepper

o   One cup of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or kohirabi contains as much or more vitamin C as an orange.

Ø  Steaming

It takes longer to steam than to boil vegetables, but more of the nutrients are retained.

Suggested steamed vegetables and cooking times:

Asparagus, whole                                                       4 to 6 minutes

½-inch diagonal slices                                                 2 to 4 minutes

Broccoli, stalks                                                           6 to 8 minutes

1/2-inch pieces                                                           4 to 5 minutes

Carrots, 1/4 –inch slices                                              4 to 5 minutes

Cauliflower, 1-inch florets                                             5 minutes

Corn on the cob                                                           6 to 8 minutes

Green beans (young and tender)                                   4 to 6 minutes

Spinach                                                                      2 minutes

Sugar snap peas                                                         2 to 4 minutes

Snow peas                                                                  3 to 4 minutes

Acorn or other winter squash, 1-inch cubes                    5 minutes


This method is borrowed from Asian cultures where fuel for fires was-still is-in short supply so cooking had to be accomplished quickly.  Use a wok or large wide skillet with a nonstick surface over high heat and stir constantly.


Vegetables can be cooked in a small amount of fat (preferably extra virgin olive oil) in a hot oven.  Because the heat is dry there is no problem with leaching out of nutrients or flavor.  To roast vegetables, move the oven racks to the lowest level and set the oven temperature to 400 degrees to 450 degrees.  Use a nonstick baking sheet or jelly-roll pan, a heavy baking dish, or a roasting pan.  This is not a quick method-most oven-roasted vegetables (except asparagus) take at least 30 to 50 minutes to brown-but it is easy and gives great results.

Broiling and/or Grilling

Many vegetables can be broiled or grilled until lightly browned and tender.  Use a grilling basket or mesh grill cover so vegetables don’t fall through the rack onto the fire.  Remember to lightly brush the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, turn vegetables frequently during cooking, and move vegetables around to ensure even cooking.

Suggested broiling or grilling vegetables and cooking times:

Shitake mushroom caps                                  2 to 3 minutes per side

Small zucchini split lengthwise                        4 to 5 minutes per side

Small yellow squash split lengthwise                4 to 5 minutes per side

Eggplant slices, 1/3 inch thick                         4 to 5 minutes per side

Onion slices, ½ inch thick                               4 to 5 minutes per side

Quartered bell peppers                                    5 to 6 minutes per side

Potato slices, ¼ inch thick                              6 to 7 minutes per side


The microwave does a great job of cooking many vegetables, and of all the methods, microwave cooking preserves the most nutrients.  “Baked” potatoes (both russet and sweet potatoes) are especially time saving, although the skin won’t be crusty.  For “baked” potatoes, wash the potatoes, pierce the skin twice with the tip of a knife, and place in the microwave.  Two potatoes cook in 7 to 9 minutes; 4 potatoes in 12 to 13 minutes.  Wrap in a cloth towel and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

For vegetables, place in a 10-inch glass pie plate or 2-quart microwave safe casserole, add water, cover with a glass cover or vented plastic wrap, and cook. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving to finish cooking.

Suggested microwave vegetables and cooking times:

Asparagus, 1 pound, trimmed and cut into 1-inch diagonals (1/4 cup water)           

4 to 5 minutes stirring

Beets, 3 medium, trimmed and scrubbed (1/4 cup water)                 

15 to 18 minutes

Broccoli, 1 bunch, thick stalks trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets (1/4 cup water)

8 to 10 minutes

Corn on the cob, 4 ears, husks on, rinsed with cold water but not dried      

5 to 6 minutes

Green beans, 1 pound, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (1/2 cup water) 

10 to 15 minutes

Dessert Tips

Ø  For best cake results, use the pan size and preparation recommended in the recipe.  Preheat the oven for 15 minutes.  Test for doneness at the minimum bake time given.

Ø  When cooking, place cake on a wire rack or inverted colander for greater air flow.  If the cake sticks to the pan, put it back in the oven for one minute and it will loosen.  Before putting the cake on a plate, dust the plate with sugar to absorb moisture and avoid sticking.

Ø  If you don’t have time to prepare a homemade pie crust, purchase a reduced calorie, low-fat pastry or graham cracker ready made pie crust from the grocery store. 

Measuring and Preparation Tips

Ø  Measure liquids in glass or clear plastic liquid-measuring cups and dry ingredients in nesting dry-measuring cups (usually made of metal or plastic) that can be leveled off with a knife. 

Ø  Measure flour by spooning (not scooping) it into a dry-measuring cup and leveling off with a knife without tapping or shaking cup.

Ø  Do not sift flour unless specified in recipe.  If sifted flour is called for, sift flour before measuring.  (Many brands say “presifted” on the label; disregard this.)

Ø  When we call for a shallow baking pan, we mean an old-fashioned jelly-roll or four-sided cookie pan.

Ø  Measure skillets and baking pans across the top, not across the bottom.

Ø  To prepare a water bath for baking, put your filled pan in a larger pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the smaller pan.

Ø  Use light-colored metal pans for baking unless otherwise specified.  If using dark metal pans, including nonstick, your baked goods will likely brown more and the cooking times may be shorter.

Ø  Wash and dry all produce before using.

Ø  Before prepping fresh herbs or greens, remove the leaves or fronds from the stems-the exception is cilantro, which has tender stems.

Ø  Pack fresh herbs or greens before measuring.

Ø  Black pepper in recipes is always freshly ground.

Ø  Wear protective gloves when handling chiles.

Ø  Grate cheese just before using.

Ø  To zest citrus fruits, remove the colored part of the rind only (avoid the bitter white pith).  For strips, use a vegetable peeler.  For grated zest, use the smallest teardrop-shaped holes or the tiny sharp ones on a four-sided grater.

Ø  Toast spices in a dry heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant and a shade or two darker.  Toast nuts in a shallow baking pan in a 350 degree oven until golden, 5 to 10 minutes.  Toast seeds either way.

Ø  To peel a tomato or peach, first cut an x in the end opposite the stem and immerse in boiling water (10 seconds for a tomato or 15 seconds for a peach).  Transfer it to ice water and then peel.

Ø  Dry Measures

3 tsp………….1 tbsp………………1/2 oz………………..14.3 gm

2 tbsp…………1/8 cup……………..1 fl oz………………..28.3 gm

4 tbsp…………1/4 cup…………….2 oz………………….56.7 gm

5 1/3 tbsp……..1/3 cup…………….2.6 oz……………….. 75.6 gm

8 tbsp………….1/2 cup…………….4 oz…………………113.4 gm

8 tbsp………….(1 stick of butter)

12 tbsp………..3/4 cup…………….6 oz…………1/2 lb…170.0 gm

32 tbsp………..2 cups………………16 oz………..1 lb…….453.6 gm

64 tbsp………..4 cups………………32 oz……….2 lbs……..907.0 gm nearly a Kg.

To measure dry ingredients and solid fats, use standard dry measuring cups.

Cindy’s Featured Product of the Week!  

Need help creating a meal plan for yourself?  Here are great menu and meal ideas that are the perfect portions for your healthy eating plan!  

Stay Fit and Healthy! 

Cindy Whitmarsh

Categories: Fitness with Cindy Whitmarsh